Samburu National Reserve

Gerenuks feeding in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Gerenuks feeding in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya


LOCATION Samburu National Reserve flanks the Ewaso Nyiro River in north-central Kenya, about 1 hour by (appallingly rutted) road from Isiolo

AREA 150 sq miles (390 sq km)

KEY WILDLIFE Gerenuks, Grevy’s zebras, reticulated giraffes, Beisa oryxes

Samburu lies in the parched badlands that divide Kenya’s central highlands from the Ethiopian border, and protects the most unusual fauna of any African savanna preserve. Here lives the gerenuk, an extraordinary gazelle-like creature distinguished by its long neck, freakishly small head, and habit of standing on its hind legs to feed on leaves. Other oddities include the densely striped Grevy’s zebra, the geometrically marked reticulated giraffe, and the regal Beisa oryx. All of these make the preserve attractive to regular safari-goers, but first-timers have plenty to enjoy too – elephants and lions abound, and the forest fringing the Ewaso Nyiro River is one of the best places in East Africa for spotting leopards.


Getting There The best way to visit Samburu is with a recognized safari operator or in a private 4WD. These can be rented in Nairobi, which is about 155 miles (250 km) to the south.

When to Go It is good all year round, but wildlife concentrations along the river are highest in the late dry season (Jun–Oct).

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