Places to Visit in Samburu, Samburu Safari, & Ultimate Guide to Samburu County
Samburu County lies in the former Rift Valley Province of Kenya. It covers a wide area of over 21,000km2 and is mainly habited by Samburu people. It stretches south from Lake Turkana to the north of Ewaso Ng’iro or Nyiro River and also features Mount Kulal, which lies east of Lake Turkana.
This county has four major towns: Lodosoit, Wamba, Archers Post, South Horr, Baragoi, and Maralal, the capital and the biggest town of the county. Samburu County tourist attractions include Samburu National Reserve, Shaba National Park, Maralal National Reserve, and Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
Samburu National Park lies along the Ewaso Ng’iro River, roughly 350km from Nairobi (Kenya’s Capital City). It is a 165 sq. km reserve that supports a fantastic population of wild animals, including Wild Dogs, Gerenuk, leopards, Elephants, cheetahs, and other species.
You will also find over 500 bird species in this reserve. To the south of the park, you will find Shaba National Reserve, which supports a considerable population of wild animals and over 400 bird species.
You will find Buffalo Springs National Reserve to the south of Samburu Game Park. It is a 131 sq. km park that supports many rare species of animals and birds, including the reticulated Giraffe, the endangered Beisa Oryx, and Grevy’s Zebra.
The little heaven of Eland, Leopard, Hyena, Buffalo, and Zebra, Maralal National Reserve, is located in Samburu County. It is a perfect destination for wild animal viewing and Samburu safari.
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Our Most Booked Samburu County Safari and Other Packages
|Our Most Booked Kenya Safari Packages 2023||Price Per Adult Sharing||The Detailed Itinerary|
|1-Day Nairobi National Park & Giraffe Center Tour||From USD 119||See the Itinerary|
|1-Day Nairobi National Park & Nairobi Animal Orphanage Tour||From USD 34||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Camp Packages||From USD 1015||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Christmas Packages||From USD 1010||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Easter Packages||From USD 985||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Festive Packages||From USD 1315||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Lodge Safari||From USD 995||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Packages||From USD 955||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Masai Mara Packages from Nairobi||From USD 995||See the Itinerary|
|3-Day Ol Pejeta Easter Safari||From USD 1175||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Africa Migration Masai Mara Packages||From USD 1360||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day L. Naivasha & Masai Mara Easter Safari||From USD 1249||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day L. Naivasha & Masai Mara Safari||From USD 1174||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day L. Nakuru & Masai Mara Safari||From USD 1162||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Masai Mara Camp Packages||From USD 1195||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Masai Mara Easter Packages||From USD 1235||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Masai Mara Migration Packages||From USD 1360||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Mombasa & Diani Safari||From USD 937||See the Itinerary|
|4-Day Mombasa & Diani Valentine Safari||From USD 1405||See the Itinerary|
|5-Day Flying Safari to Masai Mara & Ol Pejeta Conservancy||From USD 3777||See the Itinerary|
|6-Day Kenya Wildlife Safari from India||From USD 1730||See the Itinerary|
|7-Day Kenya Christmas Safari||From USD 3093||See the Itinerary|
|7-Day Kenya Wildlife Safari||From USD 1884||See the Itinerary|
|8-Day Kenya Wildlife Safari||From USD 4413||See the Itinerary|
|8-Day Wildlife & Beach Safari||From USD 1585||See the Itinerary|
|12-Day Kenya Wildlife & Beach Safari||From USD 4216||See the Itinerary|
|18-Day Kenya Family Safari||From USD 5849||See the Itinerary|
The Ultimate Guide to Samburu People - Food, Clothing, Language, Beliefs, & More
The Samburu People are a Nilotic clan that inhabits Kenyan’s northern plains. They are similar to the Maasai People; they speak Maa language. The Samburu tribe is a nomadic community that moves from one area to another, searching for water and fresh pasture for cattle, sheep, goats, and camels.
Samburu are considered even more remote and traditional than their cousins and have maintained the identity of their culture by following their traditions and resisting modern trends.
Other neighbors of the Samburu People include the Pastoral Borana, Rendille, and Turkana tribes.
The History of the Samburu People
Samburu’s history is similar to that of other Kenya’s Nilotic groups. They are believed to have originated from Southern Sudan, settling south of Lake Turkana in the Rift Valley and north of Mt. Kenya.
Upon their arrival in the 15th century, they parted ways with their cousins, the Maasai, who moved further south while they moved north. Samburu tribe was not entirely affected by the British colonial government since the British didn’t find their land attractive.
Samburu Social Organization
The Samburu tribe is a gerontocracy community. The elder power is linked to the uncompromised belief in their curse, highlighting their monopoly over prearranged marriages and marrying many wives.
This is at the expense of unmarried guys whose growth up to 30-year is in a state of social suspension, extending their adolescent status. The paradox of their gerontocracy is that most attention focuses on these bachelors’ deviant and glamour activities.
They stretch to form a gang disputing between clans, theft of their stock, and widespread suspicions of secret adultery with partners of older men.
A Samburu man wears a cloth which is usually black or pink, and is wrapped around his waist in a similar way to a Scottish Kilt. The men decorate themselves with anklets, bracelets, and necklaces, like the Maasai.
Warriors (members of the moran clan) often wear their hair in huge braids, shaving when they become seniors. It is usually colored with red ochre. Sometimes, their bodies are decorated with ochre.
On the other hand, women wear two pieces of purple or blue cloth, the first piece wrapped around the waist, the other one over the chest. They keep their hair short and wear dozens of bracelets and necklaces.
Nomadic Lifestyle of the Samburu People
Like other Kenyan pastoralist communities, the Samburu family rears vast herds of cattle, camels, goats, and sheep, which they graze on their lathe community’s land. Samburu herders and their animals stay in a single grazing land as long as it has enough water and pasture, then migrate to new areas once the site has been exhausted.
Every time they relocate, they build new Manyattas (mud-walled and grass-thatched huts) to live in and fence their animal compound with thorns. A traditional Samburu village usually contains a few Manyattas belonging to a group of 5 to 10 families.
Samburu Beliefs, Faith, and Religion
Traditionally, the Samburu community believed in one God – Ngai or Nkai – who was thought to dwell in the mountains. The community had diviners who were intermediaries between Nkai and other mortals.
Although some people still follow their traditional beliefs, others have accepted the Islamic or Christian faith.
Position in Western Culture
Samburu culture has been extensively showcased in western culture, ranging from mainstream journalism, major television commercials, and Hollywood movies. Such events make good use of this culture but sometimes without any accuracy.
One of the most famous and earliest film appearances by Samburu was in the 1950s John Ford classic Mogambo (they served as background stars such as Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Clark Gable).
In the 1990s, a group of Samburu traveled to S. Africa to play against Kevin Bacon in a basketball comedy called The Air Up. Here, they are portrayed as a team called The Winabi.
Their extras were also used to showcase the Maasai culture in a film called The Ghost and the Darkness, starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas. Their culture also features in a 2005 film called The White Masai, where a Swiss lady falls in love with a Samburu man.
Samburu culture has featured in a MasterCard commercial, Nike commercial, CNN documentaries, and MSNBC documentaries, among others.
Samburu Culture and Language
Just like the Maasai, the Samburu community speaks the Maa language. Although they share the same language, they speak more rapidly than their cousins.
Together with the Turkana and Maasai, the Samburu are among the few tribes that still follow their culture.
The Food of the Samburu
Samburu’s primary food is milk, blood, and corn (maize). Although they don’t slaughter their cattle too often (only in special ceremonies and occasions such as childbirth, circumcision, and marriage), they drink their blood regularly.
They pierce the vein of an animal with a knife or spear, draw blood, and then reseal the wound with hot ashes.
The Top 9 Places to Visit in Samburu and Things to Do
Samburu County is a gem for holiday seekers. If you want to get a feel of what this County is all about, here are nine things you can do in Samburu, Kenya.
Ride a Camel
Samburu’s heart is the Ewaso Ng’iro River, which meanders via Samburu National Park, leaving a trail of green pasture for the park’s hundreds of species. Enjoy a breathtaking camel ride along the bank of this river.
A local guide will guide your camel along the riverbank and into the nearby villages. Alternatively, participate in the Maralal Camel Derby in Midyear.
Participating in this derby is one of the most exciting things you can do in Samburu town.
Mingle with the Samburu People
Discover more about the fantastic culture of Samburu residents by visiting their villages. Participate in chores around their homestead like milking goats, making traditional ornaments, and goading cattle into thorn pens and also learn their nomadic way of life.
Discover the World’s Five Rare Species
In Samburu County, a quick game drive highlight is coming face-to-face with the world’s rare five: the Grevy’s Zebra, Somali Ostrich, the Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, and the Beisa Oryx.
You can also explore the Samburu National Reserve Kenya, Shaba National Park, Maralal National Reserve, and Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
Climb Mount Ol Lolokwe
Travel around the superb Mt. Ol Lolokwe. The five to seven hours hike will reward you with an unrivaled view of Samburu town.
Attend Limuget Ceremony
Like the Maasai, the Samburu people host propitious celebrations when the warriors (morans) become elders. Known as Limuget, this celebration takes place every seven years and is celebrated by the morans, their families, and friends as well as other friends.
You should visit this county when Limuhet is taking place and experience the Samburu’s culture.
Discover the Singing Wells
A lot of things take place in the wells of Samburu. They often dig up to water their troughs and call their animals with tunes that the cattle recognize as the family tune. The community also gathers in these wells to socialize.
If you are lucky, you might spot a wild animal strolling around the wells to enjoy the remaining dug water. Ensure you don’t leave this Samburu County before witnessing this side of the community.
Your day should begin with a morning game drive. Samburu game reserves offer an opportunity to view rare species and other animals. These are Lions, Elephants, Gazelles, Buffalos, Water Bucks, and Cheetahs.
There have been over 400 bird species recorded in this great County of Samburu. The dry, open county offers rewarding birding watching opportunities. The area features several African dry-country birds, which it shares with Somalia and Ethiopia.
They include Somali Ostrich, White-headed Mousebird, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Somali Bee-eater, and Golden Pipit. Migratory species arrive in the parks from November to April.
Samburu Cultural Tour
Samburu National Reserve Kenya was one of the two reserves where conservationists Joy and George Adamson raised the famous lioness, Elsa. The story was told by the bestselling as well as the award-winning film “Born Free.”
In addition, you will learn about the local community when you visit them, interact with them and learn about their culture. This is also the best opportunity to purchase some traditional Samburu art, souvenirs, and collectibles.
Best Time to Visit Samburu (Month by Month)
The arid and semi-arid climate of Samburu offers guests a superb Kenyan Safari any time of the year. However, Aj Kenya Safaris.com Ltd recommends that you factor in some climate patterns of equatorial Kenya to maximize your safari activities and game viewing.
Daytime temperatures range from a high of 32 degrees to a low of 29 degrees, and nighttime temperatures range from a high of 19 degrees to a low of 16 degrees. This often depends on the month you travel.
The temperature gets low when the sun sets. We recommend you carry additional clothing such as a sweater or fleece to fend off the cold night air. However, it doesn’t get very cool in this part of Kenya compared to the highlands of the Great Rift Valley like Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Amboseli, and Lake Naivasha.
Another aspect of your tour of Samburu National Parks that you should consider is the weather. The logistics and the experience will vary during the rainy and dry seasons. In Kenya, the long dry season runs from July to early October.
This is the best time to plan for your Kenya Samburu Safari, and you will enjoy plenty of sunshine and blue sky with no rain. The dry weather usually reduces vegetation and water sources; thus, all the animals congregate along the Ewaso Ng’iro River to feed and drink, making it easier to spot them.
It is also easier to move around due to dry roads. This time of the year coincides with the Great Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara; it’s just a few hours’ drive from Samburu (double fun!).
The short rains fall from late October to December. This is not an ideal time to visit the County, although visitors still come to enjoy their Christmas Holiday.
The short dry season runs from January to February, followed by long rains between March and May, dusting off by June. In most situations, rainfall is limited to afternoon and evening showers, having little effect on morning safari activities.
The Ultimate Guide to Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve is located in the southeastern part of Samburu County in the former Rift Valley Province of Kenya. The park covers a wide area of 165 km2 and is about 345 km from Nairobi.
It’s boarded to the south by the great Ewaso Ng’iro River, which separates it from the beautiful Buffalo Springs National Park. The Ewaso Ng’iro River flows via three beautiful northern reserves, Shaba, Maralal, Buffalo, and Samburu.
Its water forms an oasis of lush vegetation on its banks that draws animals in huge numbers. The river banks contrast sharply with the arid and semi-arid thorn-studded plains.
Samburu National Reserve Kenya is the home to a large number of Elephants, invited by the abundant food and water. This region is also the perfect place to view various endemic Northern species such as the Reticulated Giraffe, Grevy Zebra, and Gerenuk.
The forests along the Ewaso Ng’iro River banks are home to countless birds, including indigenous species such as the Vinaceous Dove and Palm Nut Vulture. These forests also shelter many Leopards, regularly seen after sunset.
Seeing one or two of these spotted creatures is always a fantastic treat. The jungle kings are seen on the banks, and cheetahs can be seen on the open land. If you are lucky, you might also witness a pack of Wild Dogs, well known as African Hunting Dogs, chasing an Impala through the park.
Shaba National Reserve was where Joy, author of “Born Free,” spent her final days, returning a Leopard to its natural home. This inspired her last work, “The Queen of Shaba.”
The locals are herders of cattle, camels, and goats and often visit the reserves’ boundaries to water them. A few private sanctuaries work closely with the local community in areas around the parks to protect the local wildlife and their tribal land.
These sanctuaries accept guests and are worth visiting if you want to learn about the Samburu people.
Samburu Reserve Climatic Conditions
The park lies within an environmental zone V, arid and semi-arid land with a moisture index of 42-57 – which means that the evaporation rate is higher than the available moisture.
The days are usually hot while the nights are often cold. The annual mean rainfall is about 354mm, while the mean temperatures vary between 18-30 degrees.
The wet season begins in November to April (animals are found all over the reserve), while the dry season runs from May to October (animals are located on the river banks).
Samburu National Park Available Games
Samburu Reserve is full of wild animals with fame for notable rare northern species such as the Beisa Oryx, the Grevy Zebra, Somali Ostrich, Gerenuk, and Reticulated Giraffe. The park is also popular with over 900 Elephants.
Large predators like Leopards, Cheetahs, and Lions are a significant part of the reserve (Kamunyak, the Wonderful Lioness that adopted an Oryx baby, is a resident in this park). African Hunting Dogs’ sights are also a great attraction to this reserve.
Birds are abundant, with over 400 species recorded, including the species of global conservation, the Taita Falcon and Lesser Kestrel. The five vulnerable species, the African Darter, White-headed Vulture, Great Egret, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, and Martial Eagle, are also present.
Pancake Tortoise, a critically endangered species, is also found here. Typical games are Impalas, Grant’s Gazelles, Dik Diks, Waterbucks, Warthogs, Olive Baboons, and Hippos. These animals support many carnivores, including Wild Dogs, Leopards, Cheetahs, Crocodiles, and Lions.
Other common birds include Sunbirds, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, Hornbills, Woodpeckers, and many other birds of prey. These included Lappet-faced Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Plam-nut Vulture, and Verreaux’s Eagle-owl.
Samburu County Accommodation - The Top 5 Samburu Hotels
Accommodation choice in Samburu can be the difference between having a great vacation and a disappointing one in this northern Kenya County. Accommodation needs to give you a safe and comfortable place to rest and match your taste and style.
As professional safari consultants with inside knowledge of Kenya, we can direct you to get a Samburu lodge that will satisfy your need. Here are the top five accommodations in Samburu County:
Samburu Intrepids Luxury Tented Camp
Samburu Intrepids is situated deep inside the Samburu National Reserve to guarantee you a close encounter with wildlife, including Leopards, Elephants, and the famous special five.
This beautiful tented hotel offers modern tents with a personalized view over the Ewaso Ng’iro banks. The hotel features spacious rooms with hot showers.
Ashnil Samburu Camp
You cannot go wrong with the Ashnil Camp when looking for a perfect Samburu game lodge. It is located in Buffalo Springs Reserve, opposite the Samburu National Reserve.
The hotel features a pool and a magnificent view of the Ewaso Ng’iro River.
Sentrim Samburu Lodge
Located in the Samburu National Reserve Kenya, Sentrim offers a fantastic view of games as they quench their thirst from the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The lodge features 20 rooms as well as a family house.
All rooms are equipped with a coffee machine and hot showers. The lodge also features meeting rooms, swimming pools, and a bar and restaurant.
Elephant Watch Camp and Safaris
Elephant Watch Camp has established its camp on the edge of the Ewaso Ng’iro River in the incredible Samburu National Reserve. When in this hotel, you can spot different animals as they graze on the banks of the river.
Samburu Serena Safari Lodge
Serena Lodge is located on the lush banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River at an altitude of 70m. The facility echoes the Samburu Game Reserve’s robust nature and features many enmities.
It boasts excellent food – you shouldn’t leave Samburu County before trying their “Nyama Choma.”
When visiting Samburu National Reserve, we recommend combining your safari with a visit to Amboseli, Masai Mara, Nakuru, and Naivasha Great Rift Valley Lakes.
You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas of Meru or Tsavo, ending with a beach vacation and Swahili cultural tour.