Exploring the Golden Oasis in the rocky ravines

Ewaso Nyiro, a river so divine meandering through the rocks from the Mount Kenya and Aberdares Ranges in what used to be Central province, to the deserts of the north, with it a silver ring of life and beauty. Wildlife is so abundant in the Samburu reserve; your exploration will be simply magnificent.  

North of Laikipia, in the vast northern semi-deserts and deserts, lies the land traditionally of the Samburu communities, a people known for their remote culture and nomadic pastoral way of life, drawn here by the Ewaso Nyiro; one of the biggest rivers in Kenya. Flowing from central Kenya, the Mount Kenya and Aberdare Ranges, the Ewaso Nyiro River brings life to this ecosystem, with it, an abundance of wildlife.

Focusing on the riverine, a dry bush on either side of the river with doum palm groves, wild figs and riverine forests, hosts an ecosystem with forbiddingly beautiful fauna and flora.  On one side of the Ewaso Nyiro river banks lies the Samburu National Park.  Stretching about 104 Km2, it is one of the most loved national reserves in Kenya. On the other side, the Buffalo Springs National Reserve sits 131 Km2 South of the river. Downstream across the highway lies Shaba National Reserve, 239 Km2. The Samburu-Buffalo-Shaba complex is so well interconnected that you can explore it all in one visit, roughly in one or two days.

Scrubby, open bushy areas are the dominant theme of the reserve with a twist of fringing riverine acacia forest, figs and palms extending not more than 200M from the riverbanks. This open savannah makes the Samburu National reserve perfect for game drives. The reserve is famed for its abundance in rare northern specialist species including the Reticulated Giraffe, Grevy Zebra, Gerenuk, Somali Ostrich and the Beisa Oryx. Samburu is also a sanctuary to over 900 African Elephants as well as large herds of Cape Buffalo and Hippopotamus. All the African big cats comprising Leopards, Cheetah and Lions as well as the endangered African Wild Dogs are easy sights in the reserve.  You might be lucky to meet Kamunyak, the lioness famous for adopting six Oryx calves. The Pancake tortoises, listed under Appendix II of CITES as critically endangered species are also inhabitants of Samburu National Reserve.  Your Shanjoy tour consultants and guides are experts in tracking these animals to ensure your journey is most rewarding. 

The Samburu National Reserve came to international stardom as the set of the best- selling book and award-winning movie Born Free which focuses on the real-life of Elsa, an orphaned lioness rescued, raised and released to the wild in Samburu National Park by George and Joy Adamson.  The Elephant Watch Camp, headed by Saba Douglas Hamilton is also located inside the Samburu National Reserve


Away from the river, the landscape is dominated by rocky gaunt ridges running from north to south. The knife-edged Koitogor forms the masterpiece of the escarpment with a magical transformation to a pyramid as you drive around it. About 20 km away from Koitogor to the north lies an impressive Ol Olekwe mesa, majestic like something from a mystical movie. It forms the gateway to Northern Kenya and routes up to Marsabit. You will enjoy perfect animal photography in this gaunted yet bouncing with life ecosystem.

Bird-watching is a sensational experience at the Samburu Reserve. This river oasis has over 450 birds species recorded including the vulnerable Great Egret, African Darter, Martial Eagle, White-headed Vulture, Superb Starling, the Yellow OX-pecker, Kori, Heuglin’s, buff-crested bustards and the distinctive Somali Ostrich.

Fact Files

Climate: The climate in the reserve is hot and dry during the day (around 300C) and cool in the nights (around 200C).

Attractions: In Samburu, you guaranteed to sight the northern specialist species including the Beisa Oryx, reticulated giraffe, native gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, as well as Kenyan lions, leopards, cheetahs, Elephants hippos, buffalo, impala and dik-diks.

Bird-viewing: There are over 450 recorded bird species in the reserve including the Somali Ostrich, White-headed Vulture, Superb Starling, the Yellow OX-pecker, Kori, Heuglin’s, buff-crested bustards among others.

Samburu Cultural Tours: Visiting and interacting with the colourful Samburu people in their native traditional setting is transformational. You also get to purchase art and souvenirs.

Accommodation: inside and reserve suburbs, you can find comfortable lodging at: Samburu Game Lodge, Elephant Bedroom Camp, Sarova Shaba Lodge, Samburu Simba Lodge, Lion King Bush Camp, Samburu Sopa Lodge, Sentrim Samburu Lodge and Joys camp.

Access: The Samburu National Reserve is located 400KM northeast of Nairobi, in what is now Samburu County. It can be accessed through road through Isiolo and Archer’s Post and by Air through Nairobi-to Samburu flights available daily.  Private charter flights are also allowed entry. Our Shanjoy tour consultant will guide you on the best route for the most superb experience.