Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Reserve;

It 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 is located north of the great Ewaso Ng’iro river banks. The river, a lifeline of the arid landscape, serves wildlife, domestic animals and humans alike. It gets its name from the colour of its waters. Brown water, is what Ewaso Nyiro means in the local language.

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 home to elephants and large predators such as the lion, leopard and cheetah. Kamunyak the miracle lioness that adopted the baby oryx was as a resident in the reserve. Wild dog sightings are also a common attraction to this unique protected area.

A daily highlight of the area’s dry season is the visits to watering holes called ‘Sarara Singing Wells’ by Samburu warriors. The warriors descend into the holes which can be up to 10m deep. They then pass water hand to hand up to the waiting cattle while chanting their traditional Samburu songs.

Birdlife is abundant with over 450 species recorded. The Samburu ecosystem of vegetation in this arid region supports a very wide range of smaller birds. You’re not likely to miss the big flocks of vividly plumaged helmeted and vulturine guinea fowl, while among the many birds of prey, pygmy falcon and martial eagle from opposite ends of the raptor spectrum are both easily seen, as are Kori, Heuglin’s and buff-crested bustards, and lots of weavers, shrikes, woodpeckers and flycatchers as well as the distinctive, blue-skinned Somali ostrich, which you’ll see stepping out across the plains.


The Samburu are semi-nomadic shepherds of a Nilotic origin, who live in an arid zone in North-Central Kenya, this forcing them to move frequently in search of new pastures for their cattle; in some respect they are very closely related to the Maasai, with whom they share many traditions and base their wealth on cattle that is the basis of their survival.

The Samburu name comes from the word Samburr, that is a kind of bag used by members of the tribe, although the Samburu refer to themselves as Loikop, or Lokop, that means land owners. They speak the Samburu language, a Nilo-Saharan language similar to Maa, that is the language spoken by the Maasai. The Samburus are considered even more traditional and remote than their Maasai kin, and have maintained the authenticity of their culture by sticking to their ancient traditions and defying modern trends.

The Samburu dress in brightly colored traditional shukas, especially women, who adorn themselves in beautiful, multi-beaded necklaces, anklets and bracelets. The Samburu, who have been traditionally described as great warriors, have a strong military and cultural alliance with the Rendille population, who have adopted the Samburu language.With the Rendille tribe they also share the same passion for pieces of jewelry made of colourful beads; the Samburu make anklets, colorful bracelets and necklaces, that symbolize the wealth of the wearer but also identify the marital status, as each colour used has a specific meaning.

The Samburu love to sing and dance and do not use any musical instrument, only the sound of their voice; the men usually dance in a circle jumping feet together and upright, like the Masai dances, and the women also dance but separated from men. Dances usually accompany rituals or ceremonies; the main ritual in the Samburu society is male circumcision that marks the transition to adulthood, while the most important ceremony is undoubtedly the wedding.

The structure of the Samburu villages resembles to that of the Masai villages: there is a thorn fence for the cattle inside the village and one outside to protect the village itself; the circular huts are made of braided tree branches, mud and cow dung; unlike the Masai villages, the Samburu villages can be easily dismantled to be rebuilt elsewhere, that makes them perfectly adapted to the semi-nomadic life of this people.

Their  people

Samburu Giraffes

move frequently in constant search of new pastures for the cattle on which their lives and survival depend; the cattle in particular play a central role in the life of this people.

Activities  include: camel rides, cultural visit to the Samburu people, climbing Mt Olo Lolokwe, discover the singing wells and discover the rare five species – a game drive’s highlight is spotting the rare five that are the Beisa oryx, the Somali ostrich, gerenuk, the reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra.

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