Since the first time I was surrounded by a huge herd of elephants in the Hwange NP in Zimbabwe, I'm completely fascinated by elephants. So we were very happy to see so many elephants in the Samburu National Reserve. I realized I sometimes almost forget to breathe.
The more breathtaking is it, when two elephants start a fight, like I saw near Savuti Camp in Botswana. Bot the most breathtaking event is, when an elephant starts an attack or it looks like he or she has the intention to do so. Till now all the elephants I saw to do so, luckily stopped in time, sometimes after a driver or ranger shouted something.
Samburu National Reserve is visited by large herds of Elephants, drawn by the promise of water. At some places the verdant riverine forest along the banks of the river is even threatened to be destroyed by the elephants.
In the dry season, the elephants use their tusks to dig deep into the dry river beds, unearthing precious water. These waterholes then become a drinking and bathing place for other game.
During our gamedrives we saw a lot of impressive herds of elephants. We had to look good, because everywhere between the trees we saw more elephants. You can see also more elephants by enlarging the picture.
During our visit in March 2004 we saw a lot of baby elephants, protected by their mum or aunts. It's allready breathtaking to see so many elephants, but looking at the many little elephants makes it even more special.
What we didn't know at the moment of our visit, that we should adopt an baby elephant at the orphanage of Nairobi two weeks later. We choose for Tomboi. And after we got the papers of his background, we found out that he was rescued in the Samburu National Reserve some months before.
He was wounded a bit and abandoned after shooting was heard at night, probably by poachers. Maybe his herd escaped in panic to the other side of the river. After the rangers found him, they tried to trace his mum or one of his aunts to look after him. When they didn't succeed, the plane of the orphanage came to rescue Tomboi and fly him to Nairobi.
After his stay in the orphanage in Nairobi Tomboi moved to the Tsavo NP and lives there now to get used again to go back into the wild.
The Ewaso Nyiro River is not only the central feature of the landscape in the Samburu National Reserve, but also the lifeblood of the ecosystem.
Because of the dryness in this area the river attracts a lot of animals in search of water. Along the river you find riverine woodland with acacia and doum palm.
The huge elephant herds are responsible for the ruination of several parts of these riverside forests.
Archer Post is the village at the eastern side of the Samburu National Reserve. Not far west from this village we had our first camp on the northbank of the Ewaso Nyiro River.
We arrived late after a long route, coming from Marsabit in the north. We were tired and dirty after a long day and at arrival it was allready dark. So we had the feeling to be in the middle of nowhere.
We decided to return to the village in search for a dinner in one of the small local restaurants and do some shopping for the next days. Luckily we had our dinner and found enough bread and vegetables in three different small shops and streetstalls.
The next morning we saw how scenic our campsite at the riverbank and the area really was.....
During our stay in the Samburu Game Reserve we made three gamedrives early in the morning and late in the afternoon. In this arid area in the north of Kenya, water means life. So the waters of the Ewaso Nyiro river draw wildlife in great numbers to its banks.
Samburu National Reserve is visited by large herds of elephants. The Samburu region is the best place to find endemic species of the north, including the gerenuk, the giraffe, and zebra. The forests along the river banks are home to many birds, including local species of the vulture and the dove. These forests are also home to many leopards. Also lions are frequently seen on the riverbanks. The cheetah can be found on the open plains.
The Samburu and Buffalo Game Reserves are along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River and cover an area of about 300 sq. KM. The river provides the central feature of the landscape.
The surrounding area is essentially a lava plain that features steep sided gullies and rounded hills. The vegetation comprises predominantly acacia woodland with bush, grass and scrubland.
Because of the dry country ecosystem around this area attracts large variations in the animal populations as they move in search of water and pasture.
Poaching has completely wiped out the rhino herds, but lion are often seen and large elephant herds. The range of species also includes reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra and Somali ostrich. The birdlife is diverse including marshal eagle, pygmy falcons, hornbills and Egyptian geese.
In the plains of the Samburu National Reserve we didn't see many animals. The first two hours in the park on our way from the entrance to the Samburu lodge we saw some zebras, reticulated giraffes and gerenuk antilopes.
Just before arriving at the lodge in the riverine woodlands we discovered a lot of elephants. A pity we didn't see cheetahs and leopards during our three game-drives.
After we spotted the lions at the plains, they moved towards the riverine forest. They crossed the track just in front of our truck. It was amazing, so see them that close !
We had to turn our truck and tried to overtake them again. I think they did their hunting in the meantime, because when we saw them again, they were having their breakfast between the bushes. It was so far and and the lions were so hidden in the high grass, that we couldn't recognise which kind of animal they had catched.
During my former visits to National Parks in Africa it was not very common to see buffalos. So we made some efforts with our truck to find a track to approach this buffalo at the riverside. It was our last game-drive in the Samburu National Reserve before we left for Maralal.
Because of the differences in height we couldn't approach any further, but we were near enough to discover this buffalo had only one horn.
At our last gamedrive early in the morning we were very lucky to see four female lions. We saw them at the edge of the plains and the riverine forest. The highlight of the day !
To see lions is always very impressive for me. The first time I visited Nationals Parks in Africa, it took four weeks before I saw lions at the very last day. So this time we were lucky to see lions in the first Reserve we visited during this trip.
Do make a visit to the Samburu people, who live on the edges of the game reserve.
Yes, you have to pay, but it's worth it. I was so moved when the women sang me a welcome song. They also explain about the social hyrarchie, show you their house, visit the spear maker, ...
At the end of your visit, all the women show their goods on the 'market'.
We had seen the tiny Dik-Dik in Amboseli, but they are terribly nervous animals and move away at the slightest noise that they don't like. Normally always in pairs we found this little fellow on its own, but surprisingly not making his usual dik-dik sound. Only standing at 30 cms they are the smallest of all antelopes.
Photo 2. A female waterbuck seemingly keeping an eye out for the Dik-Dik.
Photo 3. Superb profile the Red-Beaked Calao. The male and female are very similar although the male has a larger beak.
Photo 4. This strange looking bird is the Helmeted Guineafowl. Weighing in at around 1.25 kilos, it will run before flying when alarmed but can actually fly short distances. May be seen in quite large flocks scratching around for insects and roots.
Photo 5. Beautiful colours of the sunset on an Impala.
The strange Gerenuk, has the body of an antelope and the neck of a small giraffe, that allows it to reach up to the top of tall bushes for food where other species cannot reach, for the succulent leaves. Its large eyes and ears has the same look as the "Mule Deer". The animal doesn't need to drink either as it gets its water from these same leaves and other buds and plants. The Gerenuk is also known as the Waller's gazelle and as the "Giraffe-necked Antelope".
We had just stopped to look at the Vervet monkeys and let the elephant past so he could cross the river, when our chauffeur/guide whispered "Look up to the left on the far bank, do you see the lioness ?". After much staring through leneses we finally spotted the first one, but after waiting 30 mins and moving along the bank a few yards, what was not our surprise to see the whole pride.At first the male couldn't be seen,but when, what we thought was a large rock, moved, the male was staring at us through a small bush. Even at that distance, the adrenaline cranked itself up. The pride consisted of 1 male, 2 lioness and 3 cubs.