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Samburu National Reserve

A world apart from other parks in Kenya, Samburu National Reserve boasts a natural serenity due to the distance from industry and the inaccessibility of the reserve for many years. Established in 1985, the reserve lies 325 kilometers north of Nairobi within the lands of the Samburu people.

The reserve rests on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Kenya, which flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests providing relief from the unsympathetic equatorial sun. The abundance of acacia and thorn trees and grassland vegetation attracts a wide variety of wildlife while the arid hilly region creates a dramatic and rugged landscape. In the background, the Koitogor and Ololokwe mountains rise steadily from the grassland and the gaunt hills that punctuate the scrubland are occasionally dotted with clusters of vividly colored desert rose.


This peaceful land attracts lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, buffalo and hippo, while large numbers of Nile crocodile inhabit the famous Lorian Swamp. Unfortunately, rhino is no longer present due to heavy poaching. However, photographers and bird lovers benefit from the over 450 bird species abundant in this region, including the famous Somali Ostriches. The Samburu reserve is also one of the few places where leopard sightings are frequent. Be on the lookout for gerenuks this odd yet distinguished looking gazelle has a long neck and stands on its hind legs to feed.

The Samburu National Reserve is one of the locations where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness and made famous the book and movie Born Free. It is also within the lands of the Samburu people, a semi-nomadic ethnic group of pastoralists similar to the Maasai.

Also on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro are the Shaba National Reserve and the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. While Buffalo Springs and Samburu are contiguous reserves, Shaba is a short drive to the east. 

Visit the Samburu National Reserve on our Safari in Kenya and Tanzania, or our Kenya Wildlife Week.