Because Samburu is situated alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River the
reserve harbours a number of wildlife species rarely found
elsewhere in any numbers. There is a particular abundance of rare
northern specialist species such as the Grevy's zebra, Somali
ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and the beisa oryx (also
referred to as Samburu Special Five).
This is also one of the few places where leopard spottings are
frequent, and the bird-watching here is also superb, with over 350
species taking refuge in the park's dense thickets and tall trees
including numerous weaver birds and the marial eagle.
The Samburu people themselves are goat and camel herders and are
often seen on the reserve boundaries bringing their animals to
To the east of Mount Kenya lies Meru National Park, which was
devastated by poaching in the late 20th Century but is now thriving
again and home to the real big five and many rare species. Often
referred to as 'a complete wilderness' Meru is one of the most
beautiful parks in Kenya. Probably best known as the place where
Elsa the Lion was released by Joy Adamson, it is easy to see why it
was such ideal place to set an animal free. The game is wild and
the horizons are endless. Intrepid explorers will be pleased to
know that, despite being one of Kenya's major national parks, Meru
remains vastly off the beaten tourist track.
With 14 permanent rivers and numerous springs, it is a green
paradise compared to the dry savannah of Kenya's other parks. The
three main rivers - the Rojerwero, Ura and Tana - abound with crocs
and hippo and are flanked by dense tropical riverine forest and
superb stands of doum and raphia palms. Baboons can often be seen
foraging in the forest and climbing the trees at night to sleep.
Away from the rivers, wide grassy plains stretch to the horizon
with the occasional acacia dotting the skyline.
Overall this raw and beautiful landscape is good cover for the
slightly shyer game, meaning this is not the place to rush from
herd to herd. Nevertheless Meru's game is steadily increasing and
now includes everything from elephant, black rhino, reticulated
giraffe to Grevy's and common zebra, Grant's gazelle, lesser kudu,
gerenuk and Beisa oryx. Predators are also present including lion,
leopard and cheetah. Finally the park is also home to several rare
bird species and is a paradise for birdwatchers particularly during
the northern migration between October and March. As with Samburu,
this is an area we at Original Travel know extremely well, and
after repeated visits we can recommend the very best places to stay
and things to do.
Finally, to the northern half of Kenya - the so-called Northern
Frontier District - is a less well explored but equally fascinating
part of the country. It might sound like a small region, but
basically occupies the top half of the country. To the west the
Rift Valley Lakes are havens for flamingo and myriad other birds,
while further north still Lake Turkana, the Jade Sea, lies amidst
the desert wilderness.