This is number 7 of my Top Ten, simply because it provides the opportunity to see some unusual species in comparison to the rest of East Africa!
Why: Unusually amongst East Africa’s parks, Samburu offers a number of dry area, or desert-adapted species more commonly associated with the deserts of northern or southern Africa. These include oryx, gerenuk and the Somali ostrich, but also present are reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra. The proud and colourfully and exotically dressed Samburu people live in this area and are often employed in the camps, providing an interesting cultural aspect to the visit. There are some wonderfully remote and scenically spectacular areas outside the reserve offering great desert-type vistas.
When: Samburu is open year round but game viewing tends to be at its best during the dry season, June to October when wildlife is drawn to the waters of the Ewaso Ng’iro River. Unfortunately due to holiday season this is also the busiest time for visitors to Samburu.
Where: The Samburu Reserve itself is small at only 165 sq.km and does have the most dense concentrations of big game: elephants, crocodiles and all the big cat species can be found here, but it also has the highest density of lodges and camps, meaning it is heavily used by safari vehicles. Staying in one of the more upmarket camps outside the reserce will help avoid the congestion, spending time in the more remote areas and coming into the reserve itself for your big game ‘fix’.
What to do: Game viewing by vehicle is the option inside the Reserve, but if you are staying outside walking safaris and balloon trips are possibilities.
My View: The game viewing in Samburu is unusual and can be terrific. You have to decide if the crowds will bother you, if so, either give Samburu a miss or stay outside of the Reserve. If you are a first time safari-traveller, seeing the spectacular oryx and gerenuk, not to mention reticulated giraffe will probably make the visitor traffic worthwhile!
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Next on the Top Ten – the Selous Game Reserve.