North of Laikipia, the hot, dry, relatively low country (around 800m above sea level) that heralds Kenya’s vast northern deserts and semi-deserts is the traditional homeland of the Samburu people, who were drawn to this region by the reliability of the Ewaso Nyiro, northern Kenya’s biggest and least seasonal river, for watering their herds. The wildlife is plentiful here for the same reason – dozens of species of plains grazers and browsers gathering in the thick acacia and doum palm forest along the river banks to drink and seek shade. Samburu National Reserve, due to its remote location and past inaccessibility, has retained a naturally serene and still much untouched feeling that makes for a wonderful and unique African safari experience.
Measuring approximately approximately 65 sqare miles in size, this unfenced savannah grassland is roughly 217 miles from Nairobi. It is relatively small in size compared to other Kenyan parks, such as Tsavo or Masai Mara.
Samburu National Reserve derives its name from the Samburu people 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 reserve’s topography is mainly open savannah (grassland) with clusters of acacia trees, forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation as well as a river bustling with activity from the huge inhabitants of Nile crocodile.
This 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 Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves.
The game reserve is renowned for its rare species of animals unique to the park including the long necked gerenuk, Grevys’ zebra, reticulated giraffe and Beisa onyx. The elusive Kenya leopard is also known to often visit the park, especially in the evenings. Other Kenyan wildlife present in the park includes cheetahs and lions, as well as elephants, buffalo and hippos. Bird life 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.
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