Samburu National Reserve


About Samburu National Reserve

Nestled along the meandering path of the Ewaso Ng’iro River in northern Kenya lies the captivating Samburu National Reserve, a sanctuary spanning approximately 64 square miles. Renowned for its rich biodiversity and storied history, Samburu beckons adventurers and wildlife enthusiasts alike to immerse themselves in its rugged beauty.

This iconic reserve holds a special place in conservation lore, serving as the backdrop for the timeless tale of Elsa the Lioness in Joy and George Adamson’s beloved book, “Born Free.” Established as a protected wildlife area in 1948, it was entrusted to the stewardship of the African District of Samburu in 1963. Today, the reserve stands as a testament to community-driven conservation, managed by local Samburu communities and revered as one of Kenya’s premier safari destinations.

Accessing this natural wonder is a journey unto itself. From Kenya’s bustling capital of Nairobi, a scenic six and a half-hour drive north along the Thika and Nyeri Katerina highway reveals the untamed splendor of Samburu. Alternatively, a 90-minute flight from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport transports travelers to the doorstep of adventure, with landing options including Buffalo Springs, Samburu Oryx Airstrip, and Kalama Airstrip.

Upon entering the reserve, visitors are greeted with a symphony of sights and sounds that epitomize the African wilderness. Majestic leopards roam freely, while unique species such as the iconic Somali ostrich and elegant Beisa oryx captivate the imagination. Bird enthusiasts are treated to a kaleidoscope of over 450 avian species, including the endemic vulturine guineafowl and Hunter’s sunbird, painting the skies with vibrant hues.

Samburu’s climate reflects its rugged terrain, characterized by a blend of arid and semi-arid landscapes. Temperatures typically range from 65°F to 85°F year-round, with sparse rainfall punctuating the dry expanse. Optimal game viewing beckons during the dry winter months of June, July, and August, when the savannah yields its secrets amidst clear, crisp days.

To maximize the safari experience, adventurers can embark on exhilarating game drives, led by expert guides traversing the vast terrain in search of wildlife encounters. Alternatively, guided walking safaris offer an intimate exploration of the arid landscape, revealing hidden gems amidst rock formations and riverbanks teeming with life.

For those seeking a truly immersive adventure, camel trekking safaris provide a unique opportunity to traverse the landscape at a leisurely pace, soaking in the sights and sounds of the wild. Cultural enthusiasts can delve into the heritage of the Samburu tribe with visits to traditional villages, while conservation-minded travelers can support efforts at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a beacon of hope for orphaned elephants on their journey back to the wild.

Whether traversing the savannah on a game drive, embarking on a guided bush walk, or immersing oneself in Samburu’s rich cultural tapestry, every moment spent in this wilderness sanctuary is a testament to the enduring allure of Africa’s untamed beauty.


The optimal time to visit Samburu Game Reserve is during the dry winter months of June, July, and August for unparalleled wildlife sightings and ideal safari conditions.

Home of

Grevy’s Zebra Beisa Oryx Wild Dog

Peak Time

Jul - Oct

Famous For

Unique Plains, Game Sightings

Best Time to Visit

Jul - Oct, Dec - Mar

Related Safaris

3-Day Best of Samburu Safari


8-Day Samburu, Lewa, Ol pejeta, & Masai Mara Safari


8 Days Kenyan Safari



Yes, Samburu is definitely worth visiting for its unique arid landscapes and special wildlife species.

Samburu is home to species rarely seen elsewhere in Kenya like Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk antelope, and Somali ostrich.

The non-resident entry fee for Samburu is around $70 per person per day.

Estimates suggest around 30-50 lions live within Samburu National Reserve.

The drive takes approximately 17-18 hours between the two reserves.

It takes around 5-6 hours to drive from Nairobi to Samburu via A2

To see its endemic dry-country wildlife and experience the colorful Samburu culture.

Yes, there is a malaria risk, so precautions are recommended.

Lightweight breathable clothing in neutral colors is advisable in Samburu’s hot climate.

Large elephant herds are commonly seen within the Samburu reserve.

Samburu is located in central-north Kenya, near the town of Isiolo.

No, it’s a semi-arid/savanna habitat, not a true desert.

The average elevation in Samburu is around 800-1000 meters above sea level.

Yes, Samburu has a small but notable population of cheetahs.

Human-wildlife conflict over grazing land/water for livestock is an issue.  

By air charter from Nairobi, the flight time to Samburu is under 1 hour.

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