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Samburu - What to do
A safari through Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba is a rich and rewarding experience. Travelling along the banks of the Ewaso N'giro provides a fascinating procession of varied species. Elephant come to the river to drink, and in the dry season, use their tusks to dig deep wells in the dry river beds.

These elephant excavations then become a focal point for other plains game and troops of baboon, attracted by the fresh water supply.

Samburu - What to do

Wildlife Safari

The surrounding riverine forests are good birding country, and in the late afternoon also excellent leopard territory. Several individual leopards are commonly seen in trees around the river each day.

When the rains bring water back to the Ewaso N'giro, the river becomes a desert oasis of life. Large herds of Reticulated Giraffe, buffalo and Impala all gather on the banks to drink. Elephant herds often wade across the river, stopping to wallow and bathe in the shallows.

There are plenty of crocodiles here, and large specimens can be seen sunning themselves on sandbanks. The heavy traffic of game around the riverbanks means that Lion are commonly seen hunting here.

The plains and surrounding hills are also well worth exploring, and are the best place to find gerenuk, Grevy's Zebra and cheetah. The rocky slopes of the Kopjes and hills are good country for Kudu and are home to several prides of lion.
Most of the lodges and camps here are situated on the river bank, and there is good game viewing from these properties.

The best time to see game is early morning and late afternoon. In the midday heat, most animals retreat to the cool of thick undergrowth and become invisible. Morning and afternoon game drives also allow you to witness the unforgettable African dawn and sunsets.

The most common means of Game viewing here is in customized vehicles, specially designed for photograph. In some parts of the Reserves, guided walks, bird walks or Camel rides are possible, usually along the banks of the Ewaso N'giro. These can be arranged through your safari operator, lodge or camp.

If you have a particular wildlife or birding interest, look for a Safari operator who can offer you specialized guiding and services to suit your needs.

White Water Rafting

One of Kenya's best adventure safaris is a rafting expedition along the Ewaso N'giro river. The trip can last between three and eight days, depending on water levels and accessibility. Full equipment and expert guides are provided for this ultimate adventure. The river winds its way through spectacular white water, with up to 30 kms of nonstop Class II, III and IV rapids, and seperate stretches of demanding Class V water.

This trip also promises plenty of game, with the river itself home to both crocodiles and hippos. The banks attracts plenty of big game, and herds of Elephant, antelope, zebra and giraffe are usually seen along the way. Rafting trips in this area have even been known to encounter lions.

Each night camp is made on a sandbank, and rafters sleep under the stars, surrounded by the sounds of the African night. For the real adventure traveller, it doesn't get much better than this. High water season is May and December.


Some lodges and camps organize game walks and hikes. There are definite hiking possibilities in areas around the reserves, but local guides would be advisable. The best options for walking are the nearby private sanctuaries, where skilled Samburu guides can give you a personal introduction to the area.

A privately escorted foot safari is the best way to really experience the African bush at its best. Walking through the wilds let you explore the wild at its most pure and visceral. as you track big game, you become aware of every sight and sound, the smell of the earth and the touch of the wind. An expert tracker will teach you the signs to look for, tracks- the individual tracks and spoor, and show you how to use the wind to disguise your scent, and to move silently through thick cover and get up close and personal with the game.

When you are at close range your senses are heightened, and you become increasingly aware of the animal you are watching, how it moves and feeds, how it reacts to its environment. If the animal reacts to your presence, it can be a real adrenaline rush.

There are few experiences as exhilarating as a close encounter with an elephant, lion or buffalo. This is an experience that will make you feel more alive.

You will, of course, want to stay alive so make sure that any foot safari is undertaken by a fully trained and responsible guide.

Camel Safaris

Samburu is camel country, and an ideal place for a camel safari. Many of the lodges and camps within the reserves have camels for guided rides and trips.

For a longer safari, there are many possibilities in surrounding areas. The camel is perfectly adapted to this landscape and is widely used throughout Northern Kenya. They are usually used for pack animals rather than riding, and are ideal as back up on a trek through the bush. Camels with saddles are usually also supplied for those who want to ride.

Many camel safaris either carry all camping equipment and supplies with them, or use vehicle back up to set up camp ahead of your arrival at a prearranged spot. Gifted Samburu guides, for whom a camel train through the wilderness is a way of life, will introduce you to the bush and the local wildlife.

This is a once in a lifetime experience, walking through the bush with only the sounds of the wild and the soft tinkling of the camel bells, you will find yourself travelling at a relaxed pace, moving through the wild in tune with the rhythms of nature.

Rock Climbing

The impressively stark massif of Ol Olokwe, 30 kms north of Samburu Reserve, has some excellent climbing routes, summiting at 1.853 mtrs. Ropes and Equipment, and a guide with some good local knowledge is advisable.

Bird Watching

This area is very popular with birders, and specialist birding safaris. Samburu and Buffalo Springs have over 380 recorded species, with similar numbers in Shaba.

Notable species recorded include arid endemics such as Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow Weaver, Shining Sunbird and the Bristle Crowned Starling, many Vulturine Guinea fowl, several Hornbill species, Somali Ostrich and rare species such as the Taita Falcon, migratory Kestrels and William’s Lark.


For those with an interest in traditional medicine, some safari operators and private sanctuaries can arrange for guests to learn more about the herbal medicines and rites of the Samburu.

Throughout most of Kenya's traditional cultures, herbalism has played a major role. Traditional healers used blends and preparations of native herbs, leaves, and particularly barks to treat and prevent a wide range of ailments and disease.

This practice continues today, with herbal practitioners known as Daktari wa Miti Shamba offering traditional remedies. As the practice fades, studies have shown that in many cases these traditional blends were indeed beneficial and potentially curative. One of the largest problems, however, is that these remedies and recipes were handed down orally from generation to generation, with no written or permanent record. So as the practice fades and these traditions are abandoned so is a treasure trove of medicinal practices that may hold great scientific value.

Efforts are now being made to research and record these practices before it is too late. Visitors can arrange to learn more and visit with traditional healers and herbalists.

Another fascinating and fading part of traditional culture in this area is the practice of divination and prophecy. The Samburu have many astrological beliefs, and read the night sky and position of the stars to make prophecy and predictions.

Spending time among the traditional people of this region is the best way to gain an insight into local beliefs and customs.


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