Samburu National Reserve is our favorite place in Kenya. Many tracks, densely populated with wildlife and leopards.
Samburu National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve
Although most people call it ‘Samburu’, we actually mean three national reserves that lie next to each other, Samburu NR, Buffalo springs NR and Shaba NR. They are the most southern parks in Northern Kenya. The landscape is bare, with long, straight, empty highways.
Samburu offers splendid game viewing and is a self-drive safari heaven. With a 4x4 you can easily follow hundreds of tracks. Some follow the riverbanks; others wander off to the nearby hills. All of them have plenty of wildlife spotting possibilities. Samburu is famous for leopard sightings. We highly recommend going with an experienced ranger, who knows their whereabouts.
Spend a day in Samburu NR
Samburu is famous for the leopards residing in it; it's ranked as the place with the highest chance of spotting them in Kenya. It is advisable to take a local knowledgeable ranger though, as they know exactly where the leopards go for their daily stretch; apparently they are quite predictable creatures. However, they are very, very hard to spot, so you also need the ranger for his ‘African eye’, as they like to call it. This is especially because leopards like the bushy areas, and with their coat they are as elusive as David Copperfield with a train.
Besides the leopards, there are lots of other animals to spot - the tiny dikdik gazelle for example. These dikdiks are the Romeo and Juliet of the antelopes: as soon as they form a pair, they stay together their entire life. More fascinating is that when their spouse dies, the other one commits ‘suicide’; it stops eating and dies from starvation. Other eye-catching animals are the oryx, generuk, Grevy's zebra, elephants, giraffes, lions, and lots of crocodiles on the river bank.
Accommodation in Samburu National Reserve
Samburu NR hosts a number of upmarket lodges and large chain lodges. Some are very expensive, going up to 2000 dollars for a night. The more affordable ones are chains like: Sentrim Samburu Lodge, Ashnil Samburu Camp, Sopa Samburu lodge (all are more or less $250 USD per night for a double). One camp which is fairly priced AND a bit more authentic is the Lion King Bush Camp; though a cheesy name, an affordable mid-range alternative with friendly staff. http://www.lionkingsafari.com/. Don't be surprised by the chewing noise of an elephant who is enjoying its midnight snack of plants next to your tent! Another alternative is the public campsite, though do not expect much from that. Avoid the Umoja campground as it is very rundown.
Some camp sites that have been recommended by one of our enthusiastic Roadtrippers are The River Special campsite in Bufallo springs, which is next to the river and good game-spotting areas and Funan campsite in Shaba, located near a water hole and surrounded by big trees providing you with enough shadow during the hot days. The latter is a bit further away from all the sights, but is supposed to be a very beautiful place worthy of a visit.