Samburu is home to the Endangered Five: Gerenuk, Reticulated Giraffe, Somali Ostrich, Beisa Oryx and Grevy’s Zebra.
All of the above are great photographic subjects and all the more special for their rarity.
There are plenty of the big cats present – Lion, Leopard and Cheetah – and was once home to one very special lioness, Kamunyak, who around the turn of the millennium adopted several oryx calves as her own fighting off all other predators to protect them.
As to vegetation, the amazing Doum palms are dotted all over the reserve. Rather than a traditional palm tree with a single trunk and head, these giant trees defy the norm and branch out into multiple trunks each with its own multi fronded head.
Samburu, in Samburu County, is not a very large reserve, being only 165 km² in size, and approximately 350kms North East of Nairobi.
The main water source of Samburu is the Ewaso Ng’iro River (meaning “brown water” and pronounced U-aa-so-Nyee-ro) along whose banks the majority of wildlife can be found.
There are two prominent mountains (Koitogor and Ololokwe) visible on the reserve which give the vista a stark contrast to the open plains of The Masai Mara. The vegetation is also harsher with more thickets of thorny bushes interspersed with acacia, riverine forests and open grasslands.
The environment feels harder than the rival reserves and thus the inhabitants are adapted and strikingly different.
Flights from Wilson Airport (Nairobi) to Samburu take around 1.5 hours and it is standard practice to leave the Masi Mara and connect to a flight to Samburu on the same day as there are no direct flights.
It is possible to drive from Nairobi to Wilson but its a long hot and a dusty drive and with the air charter being so easy we strongly recommend flying.
Samburu is great all year round as the animals don’t migrate like in the Mara. The year has two rainy seasons. The Long Rains in March April and May and the short rains in October and November.
Most of our clients add on Samburu to a visit to see the migration in the Masai Mara around August and September. It is important to get the Samburu add-on booked as soon as possible though as Saruni Samburu is not a very large lodge and gets filled up quickly at that time of year.
Samburu’s “secret season is between December and early February when there is a dry spell between the rainy season and the vegetation is more verdant – and the reserve quieter as it is out of season for the Migration in the Mara.