Samburu National Park lies in the north of Kenya, where the flat greenness of the rest of the country starts giving way to arid scrubland, kopjes and immense rocky outcrops, all centred on the meandering Ewaso Ngiro River. Far from being dull, this extraordinary landscape supports animals uniquely adapted to the drier, rockier conditions.
Known for more than just its big herds of elephant, prides of lion and leopard, Samburuland has its own ‘Special Five’ lurking in the dry bush: Grevy’s zebra, long-necked gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and Beisa oryx. Head out on a game drive in search of these unique creatures, some of which are found nowhere else in Africa, and explore the reserve.
Wild, rugged and enticingly empty (of tourists that is, not wildlife) Samburu National Reserve is a place of baked red earth, extraordinary vegetation and unsurpassed beauty. Cleaved in half by the Ewaso Nyiro river, there’s more water around than you might think, given the stark landscape, and the ribbons of green that hug the winding waterway attract elephant, buffalo and zebra. Look a little bit harder and you’ll find lion reposing in the shade of the golden tamarinds and leopard darting amongst the acacias. This is a desert wilderness that is absolutely worth discovering, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Samburu National Reserve: The Experience
The reserve is a haven for elephant and predators like lion, leopard and wild dog. The Samburu birdlife is abundant with over 450 recorded species like vulturine guineafowl, lesser kestrel and the taita falcon. For animal and safari lovers, one of the biggest and most exciting reasons to visit Samburu are the quasi-endemic species found here that have adapted to the more arid and hillier conditions: – Gerenuk or giraffe gazelle, Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra, Reticulated giraffe and Beisa Oryx.
Samburu National Reserve: Birdlife
There have been more than 390 bird species recorded in Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves. The reserves protect a variety of habitats, home to different bird species including arid acacia savannah, scrub and gallery forest alongside the Uaso Nyiro River. The dry, open country offers very rewarding birding opportunities and boasts a number of northeast African dry-country species shared with Ethiopia and Somalia, such as vulturine guineafowl, Somali bee-eater and golden-breasted starling.
Samburu is a bird watcher’s delight all year. Many unusual, dry-country specials reside here and can be spotted year-round. Migratory birds arrive into the reserve from November to April. One important consideration is the weather, as heavy showers can mess up your birding plans – November and April receive the most rainfall.