North of the Laikipia Plateau is the scrubby open bushland of the Samburu National Reserve. This is the homeland of the Samburu people who were drawn here by the Ewaso Nyiro River which provided a reliable water source for their cattle.
The Reserve sits to the north of the river, which separates it from Buffalo Springs National Reserve. As well as provididing an invaluable water source for the Samburu herds, northern Kenya‘s least seasonal river also attracts a wealth of wildlife. The area is teeming with plains game as well as lions, leopards, cheetahs and elephants. Samburu is also home to species you won’t find elsewhere in Kenya, including the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich and the gerenuk antelope.
Samburu is an arid region, its dry plains dotted with acacia trees and rocky ridges, and the banks of the river lined with fig and palm trees. Sharing this landscape with the wildlife is the Samburu tribe. Closely linked to the Maasai – both speakers of the Maa language – these pastoralists are characterised by colourful wraps and beaded jewellery, and staying in one of the luxury lodges enables you to gain a deeper insight and understanding of their culture.
When to go
The best time to visit is February to March and July to October. Long rains fall in April and May and while there are short rains in November and December, it is still warm and they won't really disrupt your visit.
What to do
- Enjoy some great game drives
- Go on a guided bush walk
Itineraries including Samburu
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Lodges and camps in Samburu
Here are some of our travel designers' favourite options
Sasaab LodgeLocated on the edge of the Ewaso River in a pristine wilderness within the Westgate Community Conservancy, the lodge boasts some fantastic views and is perfectly located to give you some amazing game sightings. If you want to get involved in activities, there is a huge variety of things to get involved with but otherwise, ‘Spa Saab’ will look after you in calming treatment rooms and it even offers yoga. What’s more, Sasaab is involved in many projects with the local Samburu tribe and runs many sustainability initiatives. Each of the nine distinctive open-walled rooms are furnished with a Moroccan flair with simple but elegant trimmings. They are extremely spacious (over 100sqm each) with west facing verandas and their own private plunge pools overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro River. You’re higher up and closer to the Sahara here, so it can get very warm, but the lodge has been built to provide respite from the heat. The open tented rooms are airy and your plunge pool is just a short stroll from your bed. The family unit is ideal for two couples travelling together as well as families. This luxurious suite is spacious, featuring one en-suite double room and one en-suite twin room with a communal lounge and private plunge pool. The main dining area is reminiscent of a souk and is great for a lazy afternoon watching the game frequent the river below. The lodge has a strong relationship with the hundreds of families that live on and own the conservancy and they are very proud to give guests to the lodge a special insight into their daily lives. These cultural experiences are non intrusive and if you’re lucky, they might even invite you to see a genuine traditional ceremony in the village. Trips to the local Samburu markets take place twice a week and are not to be missed.