Overview – Samburu NR

Samburu is the most popular reserve in northern Kenya. Wildlife viewing is good, and most big safari animals are easily spotted. The arid environment is home to a variety of north Kenya specials – both birds and mammals.

Nearby Samburu pastoralists live a semi-nomadic lifestyle and occasionally they might temporarily drive off wildlife as they pass through the reserve with their cattle. The encroachment is worst in times of drought when they are desperate for water available inside the reserve. However, their movement is usually restricted to the peripheries of the reserve.

Best Time to Go June to September and January to February
High Season December to March and July to October (Busy)
Size 165km² / 64mi²
Altitude 842-1,064m / 2,762-3,491ft

Pros and Cons

  • Great wildlife viewing with four of the Big Five relatively 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 Safari Reviews

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Wildlife

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.

Scenery

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.

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.

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.

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Samburu Safari Reviews

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Most Helpful Expert Review
Northern Kenya in a Nutshell
4/5

Set in the land of the Samburu people, this pocket-sized game reserve enables you to experience everything that is best about the burning semi-deserts of the NFD – the Northern Frontier District, as this wildly beautiful and mountainous...

Latest User Review
4/5

I liked Samburu but it seemed as though it was a bit on the small side for the number of safari outfitters there- thus when a lion or leopard were spotted there were immediately 10 vehicles chasing after it.