Samburu National Reserve

- Overview Samburu Safaris

About Samburu National Reserve

Samburu is the most popular reserve in northern Kenya. Wildlife viewing is excellent, and most big safari animals are easily spotted. Rhinos are absent, but elephants are very common, and usually relaxed. The arid environment is home to a variety of north Kenya specials – both birds and mammals. This makes Samburu a very worthwhile addition to a standard Kenyan safari. Saruni Samburu and Sasaab are very exclusive lodges in conservancies adjoining Samburu National Reserve.

In June 2017, local pastoralists moved into Samburu NR seeking new grazing ground for their cattle, which has disrupted wildlife viewing - see our Malaria & Safety page for more information.

Size: help
165km² / 64mi²
Altitude: help
845-1,236m / 2,772-4,055ft
Pros and Cons
  • Excellent wildlife viewing with four of the Big Five easy to find (rhino excluded)
  • Interesting mammal species restricted to the arid north
  • Beautiful barren scenery
  • Excellent birding with many dry-country specials
  • A good range of accommodation catering to different budgets
  • Very hot and dry


Samburu offers great wildlife viewing and four of the Big Five are present. Rhinos are absent, but big herds of elephant cross the reserve. Of the big cats, leopards are very rewarding with some habituated individuals giving high-quality sightings. Most interesting are the northern Kenya specials including Beisa oryx, lesser kudu, Reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra and the odd-looking gerenuk.
More about the wildlife


Samburu protects an area of semi-arid savannah extending from the lovely Ewaso Nyero River. The reserve is made up of riverine forest along the water and dry acacia scrub peppered with termite mounds. Koitogor Hill marks the middle of the reserve. Two community conservancies – Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy and West Gate Community Conservancy adjoin the reserve.

Weather & Climate

When it comes to temperature, hot is the best way to describe Samburu. That said, the average temperature more than halves at night – rug up if you’re heading out on safari when the sun isn’t high in the sky. The Dry season (June to September) lives up to its name, with almost no rain. Similarly, the Wet season (October to May) gives the landscape a regular wash.
More about the weather and climate

Best Time to Visit

Dust hangs in the air in the Dry season (June to September), giving the landscape a hazy look. But this is definitely the best time to check out the local wildlife due to decent road conditions and little vegetation to obscure your view. An exception is the birdlife, which is at its most vibrant and spectacular in the wetter months.
More about the best time to visit

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Safari Reviews

- Samburu
Expert Rating
Scenic beauty
Bush vibe help
User Rating
Scenic beauty
Bush vibe help
Latest User Review
By Em from AustraliaAU
 30 Sep 2017Reviewed:

Great diversity of wildlife and ecosystems. Could have spent longer than our 2 days here. So much to see.

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