Lying in the heartland of the Samburu people, Samburu National Park is famed outside of Kenya for being the setting of George and Joy Adamson’s orphaned lion reintroduction – on which the well-known film ‘Born Free’ is based. Situated north of Mount Kenya, Samburu National Park is hot and arid and combines rolling plains with thorny bush and rocky outcrops. It is strikingly beautiful and unique, and the animals that live here are much the same. Samburu National Park is home to several species not found anywhere else in Kenya, so a visit is well worth it indeed. Visitors to Samburu will delight in spotting the rare Grevy’s Zebra, Beisa oryx, Somali ostrich, gerenuk (a large breed of antelope that stand on their hind legs to eat from shrubs and trees) and the reticulated giraffe. Aside from these interesting rarities, Samburu National Park houses the Big Five, zebra, wildebeest and other common grazers and browsers, and a thriving bird population.
The Ewaso Ng’iro river flows north of Samburu National Park, with seasonal river offshoots that break up the rocky outcrops with life-giving small swamps and waterholes. The Shaba hills in the east are popular with leopards, which live and thrive in its ravines. The area is also starting to gain a reputation as a good place to spot African Wild dogs – also known as ‘African painted dogs’ for their unique markings.
A visit to Samburu National Park is not complete without interacting with the native Samburu people after which the park is named. With knowledge of the land that is second to none, the warm and welcoming tribe provides fascinating insights into the beloved place they call home. Most lodges in the region run community projects with the Samburu, so you’ll get a chance to witness their culture first hand and tap into their incredible wealth of knowledge on local fauna and flora.
Samburu National Park is accessed via a flight to Nanyuki, and then a road transfer or chartered flight to your lodge. Favourite camps in the region include Joy’s Camp in Shaba and the super luxurious Sasaab Camp.