A walk on the wild side

Samburu National Reserve – Kenya

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Picture Pride Rock, from the Lion King animated film, and then you look around you and then you realise – “Wow! Yes, this is it!”

This is the gateway to Samburu National Park, found in the northern, central part of Kenya and is home to the Samburu tribe, a tribe that has been around for a fair amount of time and have kept up with most of their traditions and have held their cultural identity to high esteem. Samburu is also home to diverse wildlife and this is where you can find the big five, something that is not easy to find in one place in parks across Africa.

Well, the first thing you’ll need to do to make this adventure happen at a one-stop-shop to give you the best value for your dollar, is to head into the city centre of Nairobi, Kenya’s capitol City, and go around the wildlife safari offices and speak to the agents there to create a package that will meet your standards and expectations. Once you get that sorted, I can assure you that you will be a happy camper by the end of your adventure.

In general the guides that the agencies will provide you with will do their utmost to make sure you are satisfied with the tour, and work around the clock to track down the wildlife that you eagerly came here to see. All that will be expected of you is a reasonable tip, which will help to take care of the driver’s family. When you compare the cost of living, you will realise that this is a very fair deal.

It’s about a four-and-a-half hour drive from Nairobi to the Samburu Reserve. On the way there, your guide will stop you off at some cool tribal stands that will sell different types of attire and tribal crafts. They will be in the middle of nowhere however they will be used to foreigners passing through so you will have to polish your bargaining skills.

You will also be passing through the equator to get to Samburu Reserve and there you will stop at a landmark that shows where you are passing over the line. Take a couple of snaps and head off for the final leg of the journey, to the reserve itself.

The terrain that you will pass through is pretty spectacular and your guide will be talking and describing the places that you will see. In most cases you will be travelling in a converted mini bus with an open top roof.

” the guides that the agencies will provide you with will do their utmost to make sure you are satisfied with the tour, and work around the clock to track down the wildlife that you eagerly came here to see “

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If you are lucky, you will manage to get one of the 4x4s, however these are increasingly uncommon due to the bureaucracy of the government-run board for national parks.

The wildlife found in Samburu is abundant and I can guarantee that on every drive you go on you will see loads of impala, buffalo, dik diks, gazelle, baboons, zebra, ostrich, elephants and giraffes. If you persist in your search, you could come across lions, cheetah and wildebeest. If you’re really lucky, you might also come across the elusive leopards or even a rhino, however rhinos are on the brink of extinction in this park due to heavy poaching. A very very sad situation indeed.

As I stated earlier, your guide will work magic to make sure that you are comfortable, satisfied and exhausted from all the exploring and wildlife spotting. They will give you a variety of options on how to spread out your day and mix up wildlife spotting with educational treks around the land so that you can learn about life in this environment, as well as survival skills and facts about the wildlife. Also, if the Samburu tribe agree, they often let the guide bring a small group of people to tour the villages and witness the way of life of the Samburu people. They will invite you into their homes and show you how they are built, how they hunt and cook, and explain the traditions and culture of the tribe. Before you leave they will ask if you are interested in buying any of their wares and crafts.

Your accommodation on this safari will depend entirely on you. You will have the option to simply camp out in the bush, sleep in cabins, or enjoy the full comfort of a safari resort. All have their perks and excel in certain areas to create an experience to remember. For the ultimate safari experience, I will always recommend sleeping in a tent. The sounds of the night are so invigorating and curious that you will automatically throw your mind back to the past of human life. Needless to say, you will get that true explorer feeling.

Check your calendar, pack a good camera, and book those tickets. You won’t regret it, and you don’t need to worry about a right time of year, as all year round has its benefits.

Keep the good days rolling and let the world be your playground.

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Marc Casolani