Samburu National Reserve offers what is arguably Kenya’s greatest - and least changed - encounter with the wild Africa of yesteryear. The best feature of Samburu is not the wildlife of the picturesque surroundings, but the fact that it is one of the lesser visited regions in Kenya.
The peaceful atmosphere and the authentic wilderness experience set it apart from the better known wildlife reserves in Kenya, This harsh, savagely beautiful wilderness depends on the steady flow of the Uaso Nyiro River for its existence; the river waters a wide variety of animal species not found south of the Equator, including the majestic Beisa Oryx, the reticulated giraffe, the thin-striped Grevy’s zebra, and the ‘giraffe-necked’ gerenuk antelope, which stands on its hind legs to feed. Elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard can all be seen along the river, and the 400-plus species of birds are positively spectacular.
With 165 square kilometers, the Samburu area is the most accessible of the North Eastern sanctuaries. Lying within the lands of the colorful samburu pastoralists, relatives of the famed Maasai, it contains the rare Grevy Zebra and the shy long-necked Gerenuk. The latter spends most of its time standing on two legs nibbling at the upper section of withered thorn trees.
Relief from the harsh equatorial sun is provided by wide swathe of the Ewaso Nyiro river which is at its best in the reserve where it is broad, often sluggish, with a large population of crocodile and hippo. Elephant roam the nearby hills and scrubland, coming in to drink the shallow waters of the river where their herds can often be seen. Over 100 species of colorful birdlife can easily be encountered in a days viewing.
At the nearby Buffalo Springs Game Reserve, with its pools and streams of fresh water, literally thousands of sand grouse and doves together with a galaxy of smaller birds can be seen. The name is taken from an oasis of liquid crystal clear water.
The adjacent Shaba National Reserve is where the late Joy Adamson wrote her books on the rehabilitation of a leopard. The reserve’s northern border is marked by the wide sauntering flow of the Ewaso Nyiro on its way to disappear in the Lorian swamp. This trio is a worthy introduction indeed to this most colorful part of Kenya.