Kenya’s Samburu Special 5
This article talks about Kenya’s Samburu Special 5 which are almost exclusively found in Samburu National Park which lies approx 6 hours north of Nairobi and a must visit.
The Samburu National Reserve is a game reserve on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river in Kenya. On the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. The park is 165 km² in size and is situated 350 kilometers from Nairobi. It ranges in altitude from 800 to 1230m above sea level. Geographically, it is located in Samburu County.
In the middle of the reserve, the Ewaso Ng’iro flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests. It provides water, without which the game in this arid region could not survive.
The Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the best-selling book and award-winning movie Born Free. The Elephant Watch Camp, of which Saba Douglas-Hamilton is director, lies within the park. The Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves.
The Leopard Lair
Samburu is actually famous for Leopard sightings. Although most people call it ‘Samburu’, it actually represents three national reserves that lie next to each other, Samburu National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, and Shaba National Reserve. They are the most southern parks in Northern Kenya. The landscape is bare, with long, straight, empty highways.
Samburu is famous for the leopards residing in it; it’s ranked as the place with the highest chance of spotting them in Kenya. It is advisable to take an experienced guide, as they know exactly where the leopards go for their daily stretch; apparently, they are quite predictable creatures. However, they are very, very hard to spot, so you also need the guide for his ‘African eye’, as they like the bushy areas or the rock backgrounds where their coat merges (camouflages) with the background and makes it that much hard to spot it.
Besides the leopards, there are lots of other animals to spot – the tiny dik-dik gazelle for example. These dik-diks are the Romeo and Juliet of the antelopes: as soon as they form a pair, they stay together for their entire life. More fascinating is that when their spouse dies, the other one commits ‘suicide’; it stops eating and dies from starvation. Other eye-catching animals are the oryx, gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, elephants, Reticulated giraffes, lions, and lots of crocodiles on the river bank.
Samburu Special 5
Some of the species are very specific to the north of the Equator and are found here and form the Samburu’s Special 5 which are gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, Reticulated giraffes, Oryx, and the Somalia Ostrich.
Make sure you plan your itinerary such that you get to spend 2 nights here in Samburu and get to see the Elusive Leopard so that you don’t miss out on the Big 5 in your trip and of course the Samburu Special 5.
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