Samburu National Park, located in the middle of Kenya, can easily be reached from the country’s capital, Nairobi, which is 350 kilometres/215 miles to the south east. This wildlife reserve was made famous by naturalist, artist, and author, Joy Adamson. Her book, Born Free, describes her experiences of raising a lion cub named Elsa. Born Free was eventually made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. Samburu National Park is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves.
Samburu National Park is one of 56 protected areas in Kenya and came into being due in part to the generous assistance given by several individuals and foundations. In 1962, with the financial help from the Elsa Trust, Samburu Game Park was formed. It enjoys a richness of flora and fauna. The Ewaso Ng’iro River flows through the palm groves and thick forests, providing water for the game inhabiting this arid region, which could not otherwise survive.
The Flora and Fauna
Botanists have identified more than two dozen plant types in Samburu National Park, but thorny scrubs cover much of the reserve. The most common are Acacia elator, Acacia tortolise, Salvadora pesica, and the Down palms.
There is a wide variety of animal and bird life to be viewed. Common to Kenya’s northern plains, several large game species can be found in abundance here, including the gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, oryx, and reticulated giraffe. The Masai lion, Tanzanian cheetah, and leopard can also be found here, as well as elephants, buffalo, and hippos. Other mammals frequently seen in the park include olive baboon, warthogs, Grant’s gazelle, Kirk’s dik-dik, impala, and waterbuck. Unfortunately, due to heavy poaching, rhinos are no longer present in the park. The Ewaso Ng’iro River contains large numbers of Nile crocodile.
With over 350 species of birds recorded, Samburu National Reserve is a paradise for bird lovers. You can enjoy a colourful assortment of birds such as kingfishers, marabous, bateleurs, guinea fowl, Somali ostriches, various vultures including the palm-nut vulture, and much more.
Who lives in or around the Reserve?
The Samburu tribe – a clan of the Maasai people, are a neighbouring community to the Reserve. As a cultural tourist attraction, they play a major role due to their traditional ceremonies, food, dances, and sale of traditional crafts. While in the reserve, you can visit the local Samburu villages where you have the opportunity to interact with these colourful people in their traditional setting and experience their culture.
3-Day Fly-In Kenya Safari – Samburu