Come to Samburu and leave with memories of incredible culture and a rustic feel of local adventures from this county. Buy one of their brightly colored shukas and indulge in cattle herding just like a local.
Samburu is a place of pure unspoiled repose. Whether you want to enjoy a game drive across Samburu National reserve, go fishing at Ewaso Nyiro River or just help the community with their conservation efforts, this place is full of experiences.
About Samburu County
Located in Kenya’s hot and arid northern region, Samburu County is named after its native tribe, Samburu related to the famous Maasai. You might have seen Samburu people featuring in Hollywood movies The Air Up There, The Ghost and the Darkness, The White Masai and controversial “Just do it” Nike commercial.
Samburu is a dry county where nomadic tribes roam herding kettle, goats, camels, and donkeys. During the British colonial period, you needed a special permit to get there, so it remains largely unspoiled and undeveloped.
Samburu covers an area of roughly 21,000 km² in northern Kenya., Stretching north from the Ewaso Ng’iro River to the south of Lake Turkana. It includes Mount Kulal which lies just east of Lake Turkana. Samburu borders four other counties; Marsabit to the north and northeast, Isiolo to the east, Turkana to the west and northwest, and Laikipia and Baringo to the southwest.
The average temperatures in the county range between 25°C during the coldest months (June and July) and 35°C during the hottest months (January to March). Samburu is one of the driest counties in Kenya receiving between 200mm and 250mm of rainfall annually. The rainfall pattern is unpredictable, and sometimes it doesn’t rain for the whole year.
Less than 300,000 people inhabit this vast, arid landscape. Maralal, the place of famous camel races, is the capital of Samburu County and the largest town in the Couty. Other notable smaller towns are Baragoi, Archers Post, South Horr, Wamba, and Lodosoit.
According to Info track, Laikipia has the happiest people in Kenya.
While herders Samburu are the largest ethnic group here, the county is also populated by Turkana, Rendille, Borana, and Pokot.
The Samburu are famous for their colorful clothes, young men hairstyles of long braids decorated with ochre, but more importantly traditional jewelry, such as colorful bead necklaces and bracelets that play an important role in courtship. Tourists can buy traditional jewelry in local markets. Samburu also has a rich cultural tradition of songs and dances.
The Maralal Camel Derby
The annual Camel race is held in Maralal town usually in the summer. It’s Kenya’s best known and most prestigious camel race, attracting local and international competitors. The race is accompanied by the market and general festivities.
The mountain bike race on a challenging course takes place in parallel to the main event but becoming an event in its own stature.
Samburu National Reserve
The Samburu National Reserve is a game reserve on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river. On the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. The park is 165 km² and elevated 800 to 1230m above sea level. Doum palm forest along the river banks house giraffes, gazelles, giraffe gazelles, elephants, and hippopotami as well as 350 species of birds. But the reserve is probably most famous for its big cats – Masai lion, Tanzanian cheetah, and leopard. The Reserve was one of the two areas in which lived Elsa the Lioness made famous in the bestselling book and award-winning movie Born Free.
Other wildlife reserves located near Samburu Reserve and worth exploring are Shaba National Park, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, and Maralal National Reserve.