This post continues our Kenyan Safari with our visit to the Samburu National Reserve, which is 64 square miles in area and about 220 miles from Nairobi.
Our guide, Andrew Mwenda, picked us up early at the Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, which is a little more than 1° south of the equator. The Samburu National Reserve is just north of the equator, so we crossed the equator as we drove north. Photo op! We took photos of the four of us standing with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other foot in the southern hemisphere, and we watched a demonstration of the Coriolis effect caused by the earth’s rotation.
We arrived at the Samburu National Reserve early in the afternoon. We checked in at the Sopa Samburu Lodge, had lunch, and relaxed by the pool for awhile before our first game drive – ever – that afternoon into the early evening.
There are no paved roads in the national reserves and national park we visited during our safari in Kenya. Think of the worst dirt road you ever drove on – now multiply the ruts and bumps by 10 – only then can you even imagine the road conditions in Samburu National Reserve. We rode in a 4-wheel drive van with a pop-up top. Ours was a private tour for the four of us arranged with Monograms, a tour company specializing in independent travel.
The goal for anyone on safari is to see the Big Five of African animals – elephant, water buffalo, rhinoceros, lion, and leopard (probably the most elusive). The first animals we spotted on our first game drive were dik-diks, small antelopes that weigh 6-12 pounds. That afternoon we also saw warthogs (Pumbaa!), ostriches, gerenuks (long-necked gazelle), giraffes, guineafowl, impalas, elephants, a cheetah, and lions. Already two of the Big Five!
The next morning was our second game drive. We saw many of the same animal species from the day before, including a second cheetah and many elephants crossing the river. We also saw a red-billed hornbill (Zazu!), Nile crocodiles, baboons, an oryx, and a secretary bird. After lunch, we visited a Samburu tribal settlement and witnessed their primitive culture. The highlight of the afternoon game drive was the sighting of a large eagle that had just killed its prey and a mother leopard with her almost full grown cub.
That’s now three of the Big Five!
The next morning we departed for the long drive to Lake Nakuru National Park. As we left Samburu National Reserve we saw jackals, oryx, and a large herd of elephants crossing the road as we departed.
Next time: Lake Nakuru National Park.