Guide to visiting Samburu National Reserve

Guide to visiting Samburu National Reserve: Samburu national reserve is a very fascinating Kenya safari destination for its unique wildlife which in abundant regardless of its desert-like climate, Samburu national reserve is a magical reserve and one of the two regions where Joy Adamson raised and natured Elsa the lioness who story featured in the best – selling book and movie of Born Free which made the reserve more famous. Samburu national reserve never ceases to be a Kenya safari destination of wonders, the reserve is a home to the renowned lioness by the names of Kamunyak loosely translated as the blessed one who adopted 6 orphan Oryx calves. Kamunyak fought for the lives of Oryx calves and at one point she fought off the predators to save the young orphans and this scene is portrayed in the film “the heart of a lioness”

Samburu national reserve is a must wildlife destination on a Kenya safari and here is your guide to visiting Samburu national reserve 

samburu national reserve

Where is Samburu national reserve? 

Samburu national reserve is located in northern Kenya in the Rift Valley Province and lies in a distance of just 350 kilometers from Nairobi, Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and a prominent tourism centre where most safaris to Samburu national park and other Kenya safari destination begin from. 

Samburu national reserve sits on the banks of Ewaso Ng’iro River in Samburu county, on the other side of the river there lies the Buffalo Springs national reserve. 

How to get to Samburu national reserve 

For international tourists from countries such as Europe, United states of America, United Kingdom and others, Samburu national reserve is accessed by flying to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) situated in Nairobi city. This airport is the main gateway to Nairobi for international tourists, from Nairobi one can decide to use either air or road means of transport, domestic flights are offered from Nairobi’s Wilson airport to Samburu airstrip. By road there are both private and public means of transport used to get to the reserve from Nairobi. 

Rates and fees to visit Samburu national reserve 

Like other Kenya safari destinations, Samburu national reserve has rates and fees for tourists entering the park for a safari, Samburu national reserve rates and fees are drafted by Kenya wildlife services (KWS) a governing body for all Kenya wildlife destinations. 

Non-resident  Residents 
Adult : 70 US$ 250 Kshs
Child: 40 US$ 100 kshs

Vehicle fees 

No of seats  Fees (Kshs)
Less than 6 seats  300
6 to 12 seats 1,030
13 to 24 seats  2,585
25 to 44 seats  4,050
45 seats and above 5,000

Camping fees 

Type of the campsite  Age  Fees
RESIDENTS (KSHS) Non-residents  (US$)
Special campsites  Adult  250 35
Child  200 20
Public campsite  Adult  200 25
Child  150 15

Best time to visit Samburu national reserve 

Samburu national reserve can be visited all year round but for wildlife watching safaris, the best time to visit the reserve is in the period of June to October and December to March. These periods are  dry season and animals are easier to spot as they congregate at water holes. 

For bird watching, the best time to visit Samburu national reserve is in the wet season period that is November, April and May, though wet season is best for birding, it is not ideal for wildlife watching as the grass is high. 

A short history of Samburu national reserve 

Samburu national reserve was formerly used as a hunting ground during the European presence and leadership in Kenya until 1948 when the territory was gazetted as a protected area together with Marsabit National reserve. Following the separation of the north of Ewaso Ng’iro River as a reserve following the suggestions of Rodney Elliot, a senior ranger  thus the establishment of Samburu national reserve in 1962. 

Attractions in Samburu national reserve 


Samburu national reserve is a great Kenya wildlife viewing destination and a residence to a variety of wildlife species in high densities, animals in Samburu national reserve include the reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, grevy’s zebra, Beisa orys, hippos, elephants, leopards, hyenas among others. 


Samburu national reserve is boost over 350 bird species making the reserve a delightful haven for Kenya bird watching safaris, birds found in the reserve include Somali ostrich, Acacia tit, Bare-eyed thrush, African palm swift, Ashy cisticola, Black-bellied sunbird, Black-capped social weaver, Brown-tailed rock chat, Chestnut-headed sparrow lark, Chestnut weaver, Donaldson-Smith’s sparrow-weaver, Fischer’s starling, Golden pipit, Golden-breasted starling, Greater kestrel, Grey wren-warbler, Hunter’s sunbird, Lanner falcon, Mariqua sunbird, Northern brownbul, Palm-nut vulture, Pink-breasted lark, Pygmy batis, Red-bellied parrot, Red-necked falcon, Red-winged lark, Reichenow’s seedeater among others. 

 Safaris in Samburu national reserve 

Samburu national reserve offers a number of thrilling and adventurous Kenya safari activities which include 

  • Game viewing safaris
  • Bird watching safaris
  • Walking safaris
  • Cultural encounters

Where to stay in Samburu national reserve 

In Samburu national reserve there are a number of safari lodges, tented camps and camps offering accommodation to tourists visiting the reserve for a Kenya safari, these accommodation establishments are categorized as luxury, midrange and budget. Accommodation in Samburu national reserve include Elephant Bedroom camp, Sasaab camp, Saruni Samburu, Samburu Sopa lodge, Samburu Riverside Tented camp, Samburu Intrepids and many more/

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