Follow us:

Samburu, Bufallo Springs & Shaba

Tree Climbing Lion

Fact File: Samburu National Reserve

The country here is empty and wild, a place of baked brown earth and parched vegetation. The silence is almost eerie and at first you might think this whole new world is empty.

However, an exploration will change your mind. It will be one of Kenya’s most rewarding reserves. Running through Samburu, the Ewaso N’giro River is surrounded by a permanent ribbon of green, with tamarinds, doum palms and acacia provide respite from the sweltering sun.

This world apart from the lush green parks of the south, this arid wilderness is a place where the waters of the Ewaso N'giro River attract a profusion of game.

Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves in Northern Kenya are popular tourist destinations with a diverse and unique semi-arid wildlife population. Leaving the hustle, bustle, noise and congested traffic of Nairobi behind and hitting the open road towards Isiolo Town is an adventure filled with excitement of what the Northern Kenya Game Reserves will showcase. The drive is long, but interesting as you travel the Thika Highway passing ramshackle towns and markets. Eventually the rugged peaks of Mount Kenya become visible as you leave the towns behind and enter an area of farmlands, the road climbing past the Aberdares and into rural Kenya.


These northern Kenya game reserves offer a plethora of game and the bird life is prolific. The blue colours of the vulturine guineafowl are doubly striking as they contrast so vividly with the surrounding muted white and brown landscape. The superb starlings and Kenya violet-backed sunbirds add a celebration of colour to this stark land.The following day we head out to Shaba National Reserve, this small reserve is where Joy Adamson lived and sadly died, while she was documenting the release of Penny. the leopard that she had hand reared, back into the wild. The roads of Shaba are made of volcanic rubble, as you bounce along these tracks the landscape changes again; the tectonic turmoil from eons past is more starkly visible here. Hills dominate; the flat areas are dazzling white with powdery sand interspersed with sparse vegetation. This reserve is beautifully stark and desolate, a feeling of tranquillity settles over you as you drive over the rutted track with no other vehicles visible, the isolation and remoteness is palpable.

A Grevy's zebra stands alone, defending his territory from other males and hoping for some passing females to come his way. The comical large ears twitching on either side of his long sad looking face, reflects how vulnerable this species is. In a brittle leafless forest glade, the birdsong is sweet music to my ears. As we arrive at one of the numerous swamps, the area is full of buffalo grazing contently on the green juicy grass. Excitedly I spy some movement in the long grass, it looks like the flick of a tail. With my binoculars out, I focus on the spot and see a leopard lying on the thicket gazing at the baby buffalo.As the sun begins to cool, we climbed up Turkana Hill, where the summit allows a 360o view across the area, we enjoyed the novel experience of being able to see Mount Kenya in the far distance, have a true panoramic view, surveying all around us, and see no sign of human habitation. It is truly breathtaking.

The three game reserves of Shaba, Buffalo Springs and Samburu plus Kalama Conservancy offer such surprisingly distinct topography, vistas and wildlife sightings from the rest of Kenya and even from each other, no wonder they are a popular tourist destination.

The Samburu Safari Experience

Getting There
By road it takes around 6 hours driving from Nairobi, but is an interesting and educational way to see the country. By air there are three airstrips that have daily and sometimes twice daily flights from Wilson Airport in Nairobi. The schedule flights also connect well with other game reserves like Lewa Downs, Meru National Park and the Masai Mara making for a great combination safari in Kenya. This beautiful area is known for its large herds of elephants and elusive leopards, as well as northern endemic species including the gerenuk, Beisa oryx and reticulated giraffe. Samburu encompasses Bufallo Springs National Park and Shaba to the north in one ecosystem and management

A Must Visit on Safari

  • The changing vistas and landscapes on road safari from Nairobi are stunning
  • Samburu National Reserve is made up of scrubby, open bush land and savanna, with the fringing riverine forest of acacias and large doum palms extending along the edge of the Ewaso Ngiro. Aside from the plentiful wildlife that can be seen in the reserve, there are many attractions to Samburu National Reserve.
  • You can see the Samburu 5. Whilst the bigger, and more expected animals (the likes of elephants, giraffe, the big cats etc.) can be seen daily inside the reserve, guests have the remarkable opportunity to see the Samburu Five - five rare and endemic animals to the Samburu ecosystem. These include the reticulated giraffe, the Somali ostrich, the gerenuk, the Beisa oryx and the Grevy’s zebra.
  • the Samburu Tribe who, like the Masai, are nomadic pastoralists, moving from one place to another following patterns of rainfall in search of fresh pasture and water for their livestock. The Samburu Tribe are easily identified as they wear bright and colourful attire and the women adorn themselves in beaded necklaces and jewelry.
  • The park’s landscape is very photogenic. The river Ewaso Ngiro is the heart of the park and contrasts against the dry and arid desert-like soil that shines bright red under the African sun.
  • There are some truly beautiful camps in Samburu. Inside the national reserve, Elephant Bedroom Camp is the perfect choice for those looking for an authentic tented camp in the heart of the game (named so because herds of elephants like to come and browse around the unfenced camp). Outside the park, Sasaab and Saruni Samburu offer ultimate luxury in unique and untouched landscapes.
  • If you stay outside the national reserve, such as Saruni Samburu in the Kalama Conservancy, you can partake in a diversity of activities that are available exclusive to conservancies. These include night game drives, guided bush walks, trekking excursions, visiting the local Samburu caves full of historical rock art, cultural village visits and warriors academy.

Brochure & Holiday Ideas

Click image to view or download brochure on Samburu National Reserve holiday and safari ideas

naivasha title small

Press enter to search
Press enter to search