Samburu National Reserve lies 325 kilometers north of Nairobi in the hot and arid fringes of the arid northern region of Kenya. The Reserve is within the lands of the colorful Samburu people, close relatives of the Maasai, and harbors a number of wildlife species rarely found elsewhere in any numbers. These include the Grevy zebra, the reticulated giraffe, and the Beisa oryx all species found only north of the equator.
The long-necked gerenuk is a graceful antelope, which spends much of its time in a bi-pedal stance seeking succulence among the withered scrub, which dots this harsh terrain. Other animals commonly seen are elephants, lions, cheetahs, gerenuks, buffalos, grants gazelles, dikdik, and waterbucks. There are over 350 varieties of birds. These include the famous Somali Ostriches (distinguished by their unique purple/blue legs during mating season), kingfishers, hummingbirds, eagles, guinea fowls, and vultures.
Scenically and faunally dramatic, for most of the year Samburu National Reserve is under the unsympathetic equatorial sun. But relief comes from the wide swathe of the Ewaso Ngiro River which rises some hundreds of kilometers to the west on the foothills of the Aberdares and which vanishes beyond Samburu in the recesses of the Lorian swamp.
The river is at its best in the Reserve, broad and sluggish with a large population of crocodiles seen on sandbanks at almost every bend. In the lower reaches, where permanent pools have formed as a tributary joins the river, are hippos. The river is fringed with giant acacias, figs, and doum palms all of which provide shade and sustenance to the wildlife, which comes to water.
Elephant roams the gaunt hills, which punctuate the scrubland and where occasional clusters of the vividly colored desert rose to challenge the arid surroundings. These elephants seek solace and contentment in the shallow waters of the river and from time to time a visitor finds herds bathing and drinking in a spectacle of unconscious pleasure.