The National Parks of Kenya


Samburu National is a journey of about 220 miles north of Nairobi in Kenya’s arid, northern scrub lands.  This tiny park is only 64 square miles but in its boundaries is the best game viewing the north country has to offer.

A Samburu native, a good friend of ours, is fond of saying “the animals in the north are more beautiful” – and while there’s certainly some regional pride in this statement, there’s also quite a lot of truth.  You will see species here you won’t see anywhere else and yes, they are uniformly beautiful.  Reticulated giraffe, boldly marked blocks separated by the finest of lines, delicately browse through acacia branches.  Grevy’s zebra, fine lined patterns that seem to merge to gray from a distance, is easily distinguished from its Burchell (common) zebra cousin – besides the finer patterning the Grevy is larger with more of a domesticated horse conformation; front and back ends seem more in balance.  Grevys also seem to have a bit more self possession, less of the Burchell’s spookiness, and maybe that comes from the higher self esteem good looks bring about?  One of our favorites is the gerenuk, the gracefully long-necked “giraffe” antelope, who’s perfectly capable of stretching full height on his hind legs to snatch an acacia morsel.  That strikingly marked huge antelope, Beisa oryx, lives here as well, as do elephant, lion and the occasional leopard.

Our tours that include Samburu schedule 2 nights here.  And it’s just barely enough.  Samburu is a place, like the deserts of the American Southwest, that inspires strong emotion, fierce feelings of connectivity with the land and its wildlife.  Samburu conjures a sense of place…a feeling that every scrubby acacia, every thorn bush, every tuft of desert grass or riverbank green has a secret story.  And if you’re lucky, you’ll be a part of some of them.