Samburu National Reserve is located in Samburu county which is in Northern Kenya. Samburu county is as a hot and dry area and thus I had previously stereotyped the reserve to not have a large number of wildlife. I was greatly and pleasantly surprised by the wide array of animals we found. The reserve decided to show off, to factually tear down the stereotype and reveal its true self, a true home to a wide array of wild life.

In this instance, we were camping within the park, both a new thing for me as well as an adventure that could not be missed. As we pitched our tents near the Ewaso Ngiro/Ewaso Nyiro banks, the monkeys were all too glad to  welcome us. They eyed us from the safety of the trees and only the bold ones  approached our camp. Kindly note, we were camping in a designated camping area,  don’t go about pitching a  tent in the middle of the park.

On the first game drive , an elephant decided to welcome us majestically, by walking right ahead of our vehicle. First I was in awe of how huge an elephant is up close, it  is huge. We tried to calm our nerves, tried to keep quiet so as not to disturb it and slowly followed it. Eventually, it got tired of being in the spot light and moved away.

Lion hiding in the bush-Samburu National Park, Kenya
Lion hiding in the bush-Samburu National Park, Kenya

Next up, the lions decided to show off, the King of the Jungle does reside in this reserve. First up, we saw a lion trying to hide from the sun under some bushes, or was it hoping we would be stupid enough to get off and it would pounce? It eyed us, as we eyed it,  a male with a dark mane, lay watching us, watching it. Next up,  another came to check up on us and walked slowly along the vehicle. I am not sure if it was giving us “Animal security”, but it was both scary and exciting. These “cats’ are actually larger than what I had envisioned, larger than what I thought after watching TV programmes like “National Geographic”.

The king of the Jungle, at Samburu National Park, Kenya
The King of the Jungle, the Jungle at Samburu National Park, Kenya

The grand finale was when we got front row seats to a mating scene, who would have thought that even in the jungle, seduction is key. We found two lions, a male and a female sitting a few steps from each other. The male then broke the awkwardness and  walked over to the lioness, went around her and returned to its spot a few feet away. The lioness then arose, walked over to the lion, went around it and then returned to its spot. This seduction went on for a while until finally, the lioness gave in and went and sat near the lion, she accepted to be seduced. Thereafter, we were granted a free for all to see mating session between the two 🙂  blush,blush.

Talk about the first day starting on an all time high. When we eventually returned to our camp, we found that we had been raided by the monkeys. They had accessed our zipped tents, unzipped them and were nice enough to only take our snacks. We could hear their chatter and banter from atop the trees, they were indeed really happy with their accomplishment.

Elephants at watering hole in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Elephant herd enjoying a drink at a watering hole in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Very early the next morning, we went for a game drive and decided to start off at the watering hole, and what a wise decision that was. We parked on a raised semi-hill and had a great vantage view of the watering hole and its environs  from atop. We watched as a large elephant heard consisting of  bulls, cows and calves headed to the watering hole. The herd had lots of calves and it was interesting watching the bulls spread out around the herd, while the cows guided the calves. The sight is a beauty to behold and a true reflection of how their community works together.

Elephants at watering hole in Samburu National Park
Elephants at watering hole in Samburu National Park

Once at the watering hole, all were excited drinking and playing in the water. However, we noted that the bulls seemed on edge, they started moving a small distance from the cows and calves and formed a sort of “hedge’ around them. Soon, even the cows seemed to notice the same and seemed to huddle together, getting the calves in between them. Soon, we  got to see what had caused this change, this anxiety, this level of heightened alertness. Two lionesses actually attempted to attack the herd, targeting the calves. Serenity was shattered, the elephants blew their trunks loudly, they stamped the ground, soil flew on all sides, they shook their heads making their large ears flap from side to side and they charged at the lionesses as the mothers surrounded the calves even more. I could hardly breath, it’s a mixture of awe and fear and eventually, the lionesses were driven away leaving the herd to enjoy their morning drink. We stayed here for quite sometime both to catch our breaths after what we had just witnessed as well as to continue watching them as its not everyday one gets to watch such an experience.

A cheeter at Samburu National Reserve
Check out the stream lined body of a cheeter at Samburu National Reserve

As we headed back to the campsite, we got to see the ever shy cheetah at close range. This is the fastest animal in the world. It has a slim stream lined body, spots on its body, black streaks on its face from the eyes to the chin and a small head. They are cute to observe and actually almost seem harmless. It was also interesting to actually see how easily they can camouflage with their surrounding.

A cheetah seeming on the prowl in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
A cheetah seeming on the prowl and camouflaged  in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

We also got to see  Zebras, gazelles, giraffes buffalos among other animals, capping our amazing exploration of the Reserve.

A giraffe enjoying its meal at Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
A giraffe enjoying its meal at Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Bufallo at Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
This Buffalo seemed ready to charge at us in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

I am happy that I did not let a previous biased stereotyping of this reserve, make me opt not to visit. Honest, where else would I have ever experienced this, watching a botched hunt attempt, to seeing lions mating :-). Now, do you see why I say you should travel anywhere and everywhere? The places you least expect to impress you end up giving you experiences to last you a lifetime. Go on, head to Samburu National Park, seeing it for your self is so much better.

Transport:

It is about 345 km from Nairobi and can be accessed via Isiolo which is the route we used or through Maralal. One can either self drive from Nairobi , use the services of a tour firm or the luxury hotels within or fly to the Samburu airstrip which is within the Samburu National Reserve.

Accomodation:

There are a variety of accommodation options to suit all pockets. One can go for budget like the camping we did or enjoy the various middle range and luxury hotels at the park.

For more on my exploits of Northern Kenya, check out: