Samburu County is located on the floor of the great Rift Valley and borders Baringo County to the west, Laikipia County to the south, lsiolo County to the East and Turkana County to the northwest and Marsabit County to the north, Mararal being the main town. The county is semi arid in nature.
Samburu offers all of what makes up the wild beauty of Kenya’s outback. Open spaces, serenity and some of the best opportunities for game safaris as well as other outdoor activities and not to forget this is where you can still encounter the fascinating pastoralist culture of the Samburu people who lent the land their name who are also cousins of the famous Masai
Samburu County is big on tourism with amazing sceneries and breath-taking places.
The Samburu Culture
Besides the aforementioned culturally rich tribes (the Maasai and Turkana), the Samburu community are the other group; among the very few in Africa that are still adept to their culture, practises and heritage. Many tourists visiting the Samburu region every year, both from the local markets and abroad, are usually entertained with song and dance by the the Samburu dancers and people. The Samburu people are an attraction of tourists not only regionally; but globally.
The Samburu people have a rich pastoralist culture which is expressed through their adorable bead work and colourful attire. Their ranging lands stretch up to the Eastern shores of Lake Turkana with several places offering the unique opportunity to share a couple of days in a village or visit one of the community owned lodges within the sanctuaries of the region. This will give you the chance to learn more about the Samburu culture concerning the use of traditional medicine and herbs, their incredible knowledge of livestock as well as the slowly fading practice of divination, prophecy and reading the stars.
Samburu Game Reserve
Samburu Game Reserve is located on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River which translates to ‘brown water’ in Maa language. In the middle of the reserve, the Ewaso Ng’iro ﬂows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests that provide water without which the game in the reserve would not survive. The Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the best-selling book and award winning movie, Born Free and its sequels. The Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak (the blessed one) a lioness who adopted six Oryx calves between 2002 and 2003.
There are over 50 species of wild animals in the reserve including unique species of Gravy Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Besia Oryx, Grater and Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk, Somali ostrich, pancake tortoise and others.
There are over 450 species of birds identified and aquatic species in the Waso Nyiro River
The major Topographical features include
-The spectacular great Rift valley
-Lake lokipi hot spring the breeding site of flamingo and home to various reptiles.
-Lake Turkana (known as the Jade sea)
-Largest indigenous forest in Kenya is located here
-The amazing escarpments – Lolokwe, Ndoto, Nyiro (Mathew ranges)
-Ewaso Ngiro River meanders through the rugged landscape and provides the only source of water in Samburu national reserve
Buffalo Springs National Reserve
It takes its name from an oasis of clear water at the Western end of the sanctuary. The reserve is generally an old lava flow and olivine basalt volcanic soils plain that experience dry, hot and semi-arid climatic conditions. The reserve has also great features such as the Champagne Ride which is found in the southeast and an ancient lava-terrace. The reserve also has the rare flora and fauna flower vegetation because of its semi arid climate.
You will be able to see a lot of animals including but not limited to 365 species of birds, reticulated Giraffes, Gravy’s Zebra, Elephants, Lions, Cheetahs, Beisa Oryx, Somali Ostrich, and Gerenuk.
The activities you can be involved in are bird watching, hiking, camping and game drives.
Shaba National Game Reserve
The reserve is a semi desert, but attracts a good range of animals because of the river, which acts as a lifeline, while the combination of the arid desert, volcanic rocks and riverine forests make for a very interesting landscape.
You can enjoy hot springs and a waterfall here. There is also a solitary mountain that rises to 2145 meters from an otherwise flat area.
You will be able to see the Gravy Zebra, Somali Ostrich, Gerenuk, Reticulated Giraffes, Gazelles, Lesser Kudu, Leopards, Lions, Elephants and birds.
Maralal International Camel Derby
Samburu International Maralal Camel Derby is once in a year opportunity for you to enjoy camel racing among other activities during the event.
The event is set to a unique and adventures three-day event that is centered on camel riding. Maralal is the ideal place for the derby because it is located at the heart of Camel County and is also a gateway to the untamed region of northern Kenya.
Camel has been the source of transport for Samburu and their neighbours Rendille. The annual camel derby is thus a celebration of the local way of life. The event brings life and colour and celebration to the usually remote town as well as visitors who will enjoy all aspects of the event!
Competitors come from East Africa, Europe, china, Australia and South Africa and battle it out over 12km amateur and 42km semi-professional stages. There is also a partnership with the Kenya Amateur Cycling Association at organizes mountain-biking and amateur cycling races. The events are based at the Yare Camel camp.
Loiyangalani- Lake Turkana Festival
Loiyangalani, means ‘place of many trees’ in the native Samburu tongue, and for the nomads and other travelers that follow these ancient trade routes, “trees” means that there is water- an oasis. The village of Loiyangalani not only provides an oasis stopover after traveling hundreds of miles through the black lava hills, but is located at the edge of the largest body of water in Kenya, Lake Turkana.
Loiyangalani hosts the famous annual Lake Turkana Festival in the month of May or June. The Borana, Burji, Dassanech, El Molo, Gabbra, Konso, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana and Wata gather in their thousands in their traditional garb to dance and sing. In the evenings, a message-driven drama, fashion show in traditional costume and then a disco capped by a famous local singer are presented. The festival is completely free and you can take photos.
Encompassed by protected land and playing host to a section of the great Ewaso Nyiro river makes Kalama Community Conservancy a favorable rangeland for people and wildlife alike. For the Samburu, the acacia grasslands hold the promise of well fed cattle, while herds of elephants and other wildlife take advantage of an increasingly secure and well watered corridor between the northern reserves of Sera and Namunyak, to the southern reserves of West Gate, Samburu and Nakuprat-Gotu.
The conservancy was established in 2002 in an effort to draw increasing numbers of wildlife into the area by providing water sources and improved security. It also wants to improve livelihoods through sustainable enterprise development. The wildlife here includes Elephants, Grevy Zebra, reticulated Giraffe, wild Dog, Cheetahs, lesser Kudu, Gerenuk and Leopards.
Ewaso Nyiro River
The river’s name is derived from the local community’s language. It means the river of brown or muddy water. The Ewaso Nyiro (north) River, Kenya’s third longest, The Ewaso Nyiro River flows down from Mount Kenya to water the dry plains that stretch east from the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. Ewaso Ng’iro crosses seven arid to semi-arid landscapes. It is characterized by vastly different physiographic features and species and has become a fundamental component to the survival of the wildlife, as well as the expansion of human population and socio-economic developments.
In the arid North of Kenya, water means life. The waters of this great river draw wildlife in great numbers to its banks, creating an oasis of green.
The Ndoto Mountains on the northern end of Samburu County are an oasis for those adventurous enough to brave the long off-road hot dusty drive through the semi-arid northern frontier plains of Kenya. Ndoto Mountains span 40 kilometres in length and rise 8,648 feet (2,636 metres) in height. The many hills of the range are exciting to explore with its numerous hills creating a stunning panorama of jagged peaks and valleys, in sharp contrast to the expansive surrounding plains.
Mount Ng’iro is a mountain in the north of Kenya overlooking the Suguta Valley, part of the Great Rift Valley, to the west. The mountain is surrounded by desert, but is forested on its upper slopes. It lies in the territory of the Samburu people.
It is a chain of mountains which runs for around 200km into the wild lands of the Northern Kenya. Peaking at over 2500m the higher altitudes benefit from a considerably milder and better-watered climate than the surrounding savanna, with slopes and valleys clad in thick forest. These areas act as critical oases for wildlife during the dry season, especially elephants, which migrate annually up and down the slopes. Best place for mountain treks, forest walks, stalking elephants on foot and scenic flying expeditions up to the remote Lake Turkana.
Cultural interaction with the local Samburu tribes-people can also be very strong, notably at the famous Singing Wells, where warriors extract water by hand from deep excavations.
Karisia is located in eastern Laikipia, an area north of Mt. Kenya known for its wilderness and wildlife. The area boasts the highest diversity of large mammals in Kenya and is also home to several endangered species such as the Grevy’s Zebra, Wilddog, and Jackson’s Hartebeest
Maralal is a small hillside market town in northern Kenya, lying east of the Loroghi Plateau within the Samburu District. The town is home to Kenyatta House, the location where the first Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta was detained prior to his release on the dawn of independence. Kenyatta house in Maralal is a testament to the endurance and workmanship of British colonial architecture. The house is functional with no elaborate décor, it has a tiny verandah as with all colonial designs, and square edges without a curve in sight. The house has three rooms, with three photos of Kenyatta in and around Maralal town in the sitting room, low-hung. The building stands firm, in defiance of the 56 years it has been in existence and sits on a hilly 28-acre piece of land. The house, immortalises the suffering of the people who fought for Kenya’s independence .
Karisia Forest and Loroki Forest
Safari Lodges, Camps, Hotels and Accommodation
Accomodation ranges from executive lodges and camp to budget accommodation fit for any kind of traveler.
Ashnil Samburu Camp, Katich Camp, Samburu Lodge, Samburu Serena Lodge, Samburu Intrepids Camps, Saruni Safari Lodge in Samburu, Larsen’s Samburu, Samburu Desert Rose Lodge, Samburu Saabab Camp, Sentrim Samburu Lodge, Sarova Shaba Lodge, Elephant Watch Camp, Joy’s Camp.