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5 reasons why the Samburu National Reserve is different

Personally I think it might be my favourite.



Travel Writer
Published on

27 Nov 2017

Updated on

17 Nov 2020

Saruni Samburu Samburu Warriors

You might not have heard of Samburu. Whilst it isn’t as well known as Kenya’s southern reserves, and may be more frequented by the safari veteran than the first timer, Samburu is every bit as diverse and beautiful. Personally I think it might be my favourite, simply because it’s so different.

Here are 5 reasons why the Samburu National Reserve is different.

Somali Ostrich In Samburu National Reserve
Somali Ostrich in Samburu

Unique Wildlife

Forget the ‘Big 5’. In Samburu you can tick off a rather more exclusive wildlife list. The Samburu Special 5 are unique animals endemic to this area. Where else will you see an antelope walking on its hind legs to feed on high tree branches? Samburu is also home to some of Kenya’s rarest species, such as the striped hyena, civet cat and African wild dog. It’s an excellent place for elephants too, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love an elephant? Wildlife in Samburu is surprisingly abundant. You won’t be tripping over it like you will on a Masai Mara safari, but sightings here are perhaps even more rewarding because you (or your guides!) have to work a little harder for them.

Elephants Mock Fighting In Samburu National Reserve
Samburu Elephant Safari

Intriguing Landscape

Most people go on safari for the animals, but for me landscape is equally important. It’s the scenery that really sets Samburu apart from other reserves in Kenya. The diversity of the savannah, forests and mountains is a beautiful combination, and it’s exciting to have land-forms on the horizon rather than just miles and miles of grassland plains.

Overlooking The Samburu National Reserve In Kenya
Colourful Samburu Landscape

Samburu People

Unlike in some other tourist areas in Kenya, there’s nothing contrived or commercial about interactions with the local people. The reserve is a vast wilderness area operated and managed by local Samburu communities, who expertly maintain the delicate balance between human inhabitation, tourist visitation and wildlife protection. Most of the staff in the lodges here are local Samburu people. As a guest at Saruni Samburu I was at first a little apprehensive at spending a few days with a real-life Samburu warrior, but guess what? They’re just normal friendly people, albeit with spears, and it was such fun having the chance to get to know them in a natural way. Most of them have a fabulous sense of humour too!

Heather And Lepayon
Heather And Lepayon

Singing Wells

Now you might not think that seeing a cow could be a highlight of an African safari. But trust me, it really can. Each morning the Samburu herders head down to the family well to draw water for their livestock. They then begin to sing, and amazingly their cattle recognise the unique tune and head down for a drink. Genius. Life is tough in Samburu and in times of drought the cattle and their owners have to walk for miles in search of water, so we saw them quite often. It was exciting to stumble across vast herds of livestock out in the bush, meet the people who were protecting them, and have such an intimate glimpse into local life.

Samburu Cattle
Samburu Cattle

Exclusive Feeling

The Samburu National Reserve isn’t one of the most visited wildlife areas in Kenya, thus making it feel much more exclusive than its southern sisters. There are fewer lodges which means fewer tourists and far less competition during game viewing. At times it felt like we were the only people in the reserve during our drives, and it was so refreshing to come across some new-born baby lions, a tree climbing leopard or enjoy a bush breakfast without a dozen other safari vehicles all zooming up for a share of the sighting.

Samburu Bush Breakfast
Samburu Bush Breakfast

If you'd like to arrange a safari to Samburu, call our friendly team on 01768 603 715 who will be happy to help you!

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