Samburu National Reserve is one of the lesser-known national parks, but is nevertheless teeming with life. Situated alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River, there is plenty to attract wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains. The reserve lies within ecological zone V – which is classified as arid and semiarid with a moisture index of 42 to 57, which indicates that evapo-transpiration is greater than available moisture. The days are extremely hot while the nights are cool.
The annual mean temperatures range between 18º C and 30ºC, while the mean annual rainfall is 345 mm with peaks in November and April. The dry season starts in late May, and goes up to early October when a large concentration of wildlife is found in the reserve due to availability of lush vegetation along the Ewaso Nyiro River, the main source of water to the Reserve and the nearby communities.
The reserve is rich in wildlife with an abundance of rare northern specialist species such as the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and the beisa oryx (also referred to as Samburu Special Five). The reserve is also popular with a minimum of 900 elephants. Large predators such as the lion, leopard and cheetah are an important attraction (Kamunyak the miracle lioness that adopted the baby oryx is a resident in the reserve).
Wild dog sightings are also a common attraction to thisunique protected area. Birdlife is abundant with over 450 species recorded. Birds of the arid northern bush country are augmented by a number of riverine forest species.
The Lesser Kestrel and the Taita Falcon are species of global conservation concern and they both utilise the reserve. Five species categorized as vulnerable have also been recorded in the reserve.
These are the African darter, great egret, white-headed vulture, martial eagle and the yellowbilled ox-pecker. The critically endangered pancake tortoise (malacochersus tornieri) is also found in the reserve.
Climatic conditions – Arid and semi-arid with hot days and cool nights. Annual mean temperature between 18º C and 30ºC. Annual mean rainfall is 345 mm with peaks in November and April.
Wildlife – Rich in game with many rare species. Game includes Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, beisa oryx, elephants, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dogs and over 450 species of birds.
Access – Road: The reserve can be accessed to by road from Nairobi through Isiolo on all weather bitumen while Isiolo Archers Post is gravelled. The road section distance from Isiolo to Archer’s gate is 34.3 km. Air: The reserve has an airstrip that is the Oryx Samburu Airstrip.
Accommodation – The reserve houses a number of visitor facilities including Lodges: Samburu Game Lodge, Samburu Larsen’s Camp, Samburu Sopa, Samburu Intrepids, Elephant Bedroom, Elephant Watch Safaris, Miiba Mingi Tented Lodge; Permanent campsites: Gametrackers, Lion King Safaris Special campsites: Doom Palm Campsite, Von derdecken (Hornbill) Campsite, Grevy Campsite, Impala Campsite. Public Campsites: Vervet Monkey, Butterfly, Kigelia, Kingfisher
Best time to visit – All year round.
Activities – There are various activities that visitors can engage in while residing at the reserve. These activities include: game drives, bird watching, sundowners, bush breakfast, nature walks, river rafting (depending on the river water level) and the Samburu cultural experience.