Samburu is arid and sandy, making it a tough area for wildlife to live in. Despite this, a bountiful collection exists, typically of animals not found further south - the Beia oryx, Somali ostrich, Masai Ostrich, Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, leopard, cheetah and lion. The aardwolf has been spotted on several lucky occasions. The more common reptiles are seen relatively easily such as the "tree agama" pictured above. As an African colonial we refer to this beautiful boy as a "goggô-mannetjie" although spellings differ depending on how you pronounce it and exactly where you were born!
Samburu National Reserve is situated within the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. Measuring approximately 104sq. kilometres (approx. 65sq. miles) in size, this unfenced savannah grassland is roughly 350km (217 miles) from Nairobi. It is relatively small in size compared to other Kenyan parks, such as Tsavo or Masai Mara.Samburu national reserve derives its name from the Samburu people of Kenya who have lived in the area for many years. The Uaso Nyiro River cuts through this reserve, drawing a big population of Kenya animals to the park. The river bustles with activity from its huge population of Nile crocodile.
The reserve’s topography is mainly open savannah (grassland) with clusters of acacia trees, forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation.Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness. Their story was made famous by the bestselling book and award-winning movie “Born Free”. The game reserve is renowned for its rare species of animals unique to the park, namely: the long necked gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and Beisa onyx. The elusive Kenya leopard is often known to visit the park, especially in the evenings.
In the southern part of the park, you are guaranteed to see most of the Kenyan animals found in Samburu, namely: cheetahs, lions, leopards, impalas, buffalo, hippos, and dik-diks, as well as the native gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and Beisa Oryx. You are guaranteed to see most animals during the dry season as they converge at the Usaso Nyiro River, their main source of water during the long dry weather. Elephants are also spotted during this time, and you can watch the Nile crocodiles swim in the river.
Best time to visit
The months of December through March and July through October are dry, making them by far the best months to visit the Samburu National Reserve. April through June are also good months but might be rainy.