Africa Tours Logo

The Reserve lies in the Northern part of Kenya.The Waso Nyiro became known early this century as “big game country” and attracted such famous hunters as Arthur Neumann who set up a camp on the site where Samburu lodge currently stands.

The Reserve is one of the 56 protected areas in Kenya. It can be accessible through Nairobi-Isiolo-Marsabit road and Maralal-Wamba-Isolo road. The reserve is lying on the flood plains and bottom land of Waso Nyiro drainage system in the Great Rift Valley. It rises to an altitude of 2785 ft above sea level and also covers an area of 390 km2.It was established in 1948 as part of the large Marsabit National Reserve under the national park ordinance.

Marsabit National Reserve was gazetted in 1961 and the Senior Game Warden of Samburu District Rodney Elliott suggested to the Samburu County Council that the area north of the river to be set aside as a game reserve. This became a reality due to foresight of the County Council and generous assistance given by several individuals and foundations and In 1962 with the financial help from Elsa Trust, Samburu Game Reserve was formed. In January 1963 the Minister for Local Government then recommended Samburu National Reserve to be administered by the African District Council of Samburu.


The climate for Samburu is hot dry with cool nights with average annual maximum temperature of 30ºc (86F) and minimum annual temperature of 20ºc (68F).


The Reserve receives 350mm (14 inches) during peak rainfall in April and November (Variable). The long rains are expected in early April to the end of May and short rains from mid October to mid December. Dry conditions usually prevails in the month of June to early October and from January to March.


Botanist have identified more than two dozen plants communities, but thorny scrubs cover much of the reserve and the most common are Acacia tortolise, Acacia elator, Salvadora pesica and the Down palms.


There are over 50 species of wild animals in the reserve including unique species of Gravy Zebra, Somali ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, Besia Oryx, Grater and Lesser Kudu, pancake tortoise, Gerenuk, and others.

There are also over 450 species of birds identified and aquatic species in the Waso Nyiro River.


The neighbouring communities to the Samburu national reserve are the Samburu people a clan of the Maasai. They play a major role as part of tourist attraction in the area due to their unique cultural experiences by tourist through traditional ceremonies, dances food and sale of traditional crafts.

Major attractions

Its home to the big five

  • Elephant
  • Lion
  • Rhino
  • Leopard
  • Buffalo

Other animals of interest are:

  • Gerenuk
  • Reticulated Giraffe
  • Somali Ostrich
  • Gravy Zebra
  • Besia Oryx
  • Wild Dog- Endangered
  • Pun cake Tortoise - Endangered

It contains over 450 species of indigenous bird

There are also variety of reptiles and aquatic species in the Waso Nyiro River in Samburu National Reserve

Plants – botanist have identified 2 dozens of plants species

The dominant ones are

  • acacia elator
  • salva dora pesica
  • Down palms.

The major Topographical features include

  • The spectacular great Rift valley.
  • Lake Turkana (known as the Jade sea)
  • The Largest indigenous forest in Kenya is located here
  • The amazing escarpments - Lolokwe, Ndoto, Nyiro (Mathew ranges)
  • The Waso Ngiro River meanders through the rugged landscape and provides the only source of water in Samburu national reserve and
  • Visitors may stay either in:
  • Lodges in SNR - Samburu Lodge (120beds), Samburu Heritage (54 beds), Larsen’s Luxurious tented camp (34 bed)

Other nearby facilities outside the Samburu Reserve includes:

  • Maralal Safari Lodges
  • Yare Safari Lodge
  • Desert rose
  • Sarara camp
  • Kitich camp
  • Umoja campsite

Access is simple– by Air and Road

Through the Isiolo – Marsabit A2 main road
Nairobi to SNR 347 km
Maralal to SNR 222 km.

Cultural and community attractions

  • The unique cultural experience of the Samburu (the butterfly people) by visitors
  • They have cultural villages where they also sell their traditional craft
  • They dance traditional songs
  • They can provide traditional food
  • They accommodate visitors in their traditional huts and community campsites.
  • The communities around the reserve receives revenue sharing which they put back toward uplifting their livelihood and conservation, through employing, training and equipping community game scouts to conserve wildlife in their area.
  • Through the revenue sharing they are encouraged to open up the corridors for the migratory species
  • Since the area is small it also encourage the communities to enlarge the dispersal areas for wildlife