Kenya derives its name from the Samburu people of Kenya who have lived in the area for many years.

The Uaso Nyiro River cuts through this reserve, drawing a big population of Kenya animals to the park. The river bustles with activity from its huge population of Nile crocodile.

The reserve’s topography is mainly open savannah (grassland) with clusters of acacia trees, forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation.

Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness. Their story was made famous by the bestselling book and award-winning movie “Born Free”.

The game reserve is renowned for its rare species of animals unique to the park, namely: the long necked gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx and the Somali ostrich. The elusive Kenya leopard is often known to visit the park, especially in the evenings.

The Grevy’s zebra has a stripe pattern as unique as a human fingerprint, and large round ears which distinguishes it from other zebras. 

Other Kenyan wildlife presents in the park includes cheetahs, lions, leopards, impalas, buffalo, hippos, and dik-diks.  You are guaranteed to see most animals during the dry season as they converge at the Uaso Nyiro River, their main source of water during the long dry weather. Elephants are also spotted during this time, and you can watch the Nile crocodiles swim in the river.

Reticulated Giraffe

It is the largest land animal with a long neck and pelage with spots. However, there is more to this species because there are several types. 

One method of identifying the reticulated giraffe is looking at its splotches. This animal looks like it has a white net over its pelage, which is the reason for its name. The clear red patches with white lines around them make it easily recognizable from the other subspecies. 


It’s a long-necked species of antelope. The head is small compared to the body, but the eyes and ears are proportionately large. They have short, black tipped tails. The legs are long and slender. Their long necks and legs in combination with the ability to stand on their hind legs allows them to obtain tree leaves that are out of reach for most other antelope species. The gerenuk is believed to be independent of free water, obtaining all the moisture it needs through its diet. Gerenuks use several vocalizations, including a buzzing sound when alarmed, a whistle when annoyed and a loud bleat when in extreme danger.

Beisa Oryx

The oryx is a large antelope of striking appearance with long, spearlike horns. Oryxes don’t prefer to wander in their habitats; instead they like to dig shallow depressions in ground surrounded with bushes and shrubs for sleeping or resting. What makes the oryx such a beautiful creature is their characteristic markings on their bodies, face and legs. Oryx can survive without water for very long periods of time. The vegetation that the oryx consumes collects dew and provides both food and water. They have a very receptive nose that can even sense rain. They follow the rare rainfall to feed on newly grown grasses.


Birdlife is as plentiful as wildlife at Samburu National Reserve, which boasts over 350 different species of birds including vultures, kingfishers, marabous, bateleurs, guinea fowl, Somali ostriches and others.

Samburu Cultural Tours

Visit the local Samburu villages where you get a chance to interact with the colorful Samburu people in their traditional setting and experience their culture. This is a good opportunity to purchase traditional Samburu souvenirs, art and collectibles.

Getting There

By Road: From Nairobi, it takes about seven hours to get to Samburu. 

By Air: Direct flights from Nairobi Wilson Airport are also offered daily and are roughly 50 minutes in duration. Safarilink and Air Kenya are two domestic airlines that provide direct flights.