Samburu National Reserve Safari in Central Kenya

Samburu National Reserve is located in central Kenya about a six hour drive from Nairobi. The climate in this region is rather arid due to the location of nearby Mount Kenya. Fortunately, the Ewaso Ng’iro River flows through the reserve providing a consistent water source. The water supports the many animals found in Samburu National Reserve such as elephants, dik dik, baboons, grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffes and also lions. For our Samburu safari drive, we followed the route of the Ewaso Ng’iro River.

Animals at Samburu National Reserve

This was my first encounter with grevy’s zebra, although I have had encounters with other zebra species such as the elusive Hartmann’s mountain zebra and the more ubiquitous Burchell’s zebra which I photographed extensively in Namibia.

Also known as the imperial zebra, Grevy’s zebra is found in both Kenya and Ethiopia. However, compared to other species of zebra, this species has large ears, it is bigger and its stripes are narrower. Unfortunately, it is also the most threatened species of zebra.

Nonetheless, Grevy’s zebra was the most photogenic zebra species that I encountered. This is due to their elegant stripe patterns which seem to be superior to the others. Fortunately, there were some good photo opportunities on our Samburu safari drive.

Grevy's zebra Samburu National reserve
Grevy’s zebra seen at Samburu National Reserve near the Ewaso Ng’iro river.
Grevy's zebra with gemsbok
Gemsbok and Grevy’s zebra mingle on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river.
Grevy's Zebra

The dik dik is a miniature African antelope species and its name is derived on account of the alarm calls that the female dik dik makes. However, the dik dik also makes a shrill whistling sound that other prey species appreciate because it alerts them to approaching predators.

Dik Dik, Samburu Safari
Two Dik Dik, Samburu Safari
Resting Dik Dik
This small group of dik dik that we encountered at Samburu National Reserve was a fascinating experience.

Baboons always make for some interesting photos. Indeed, I have observed a lot of baboons but never seen them transporting each other quite like this.

Baboon family Samburu National reserve
Small baboon family seen near Ewaso Ng’iro river at Samburu National Reserve.

Elephants at Samburu National Reserve

We observed a small herd of elephants crossing the Ewaso Ng’iro river. Actually, this was quite amusing because there was a young calf that needed to be hurried along by its mother.

Elephant Calf Samburu National Reserve
There was a small elephant herd we encountered crossing the Ewaso Ng’iro River. This young calf seemed to be falling behind and its mother is encouraging it along.
Samburu National Reserve elephant calf
elephant calf Samburu National Reserve
Some more assistance arrives and then the calf finally decides to finish crossing the river.

Samburu National Reserve Self Drive Safari

A safari can be done with professional guide or there are also self drive safari options (not always available). In Kenya, the large game reserves such as Maasai Mara and Amboseli require a professional guide (for better or worse). As a result, Samburu National Reserve self drive safari offers a unique opportunity for adventure. My two friends from Nairobi had invited me along for the weekend. It sounded like a great idea and I am always up for an African safari adventure.

Samburu is a good reserve for this type of thing because it is not so large at only 165 sq kilometers. To put things in perspective, the iconic Maasai Mara is 1500 sq kilometers. However, there is an abundance of game available for Samburu safari and having a permanent water source makes the animals much easier to locate.

Before driving back to our hotel in Meru we took a short break for some photos on the Ewaso Ng’iro river. Fortunately, the elephants were still crossing the river in the background.

Safari Guide Photo Samburu National Reserve
My friend Grace and our driver on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river at Samburu National Reserve.

Enjoy the Best of Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Reserve self drive safari is the best way to go. Theoretically, professional guides are the only way to find the best photo opportunities. But the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of incompetent and lazy professional guides out there.

Kenya is the only country where I used a professional guide. In my Maasai Mara safari post I am referring to our professional guide in a very positive manner. However, he was the best of the best and we were lucky to find him. Plus, we had him for the whole week. Given a choice between a lame professional guide and a self drive safari, I will always choose to take my chances on the latter. This has worked out very well in the past.