Samburu County

Discover Samburu County

Spatial Location of Samburu County in Kenya
Spatial Location of Samburu County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Samburu County

Surrounded by striking mountain ranges and spectacularly christened big game country, Samburu County is an immensely indulgent wilderness instantiated by diverse landforms and wildlife. Most prominent of its pleasant, stretching range of mountains sprucely dominating the north and eastern areas are Nyiru Range, Ndoto Mountains and Mathews Range. The Kirisia Hills form a similar range in the western area. These ranges are surrounded by gullied and craggy footslopes, often of dramatic dimensions, niply piecing a jaw-dropping landscape in almost every direction you take – including to the much-liked Sacred Mount Ololokwe.

The whole western border beyond Samburu Hills is marked by the howling Rift Valley, best sighted at the Losiolo Escarpment that is reachable on an afternoon outing from Maralal Town. At Losiolo the land dramatically drops into a 20-30 kms wide strip of step-sided hills, plateaus and volcano foot-ridges to compose one of the most breathtaking landscapes in Kenya. For hundreds of feet below, stretching as a far as the eye can see, the floor of the Rift Valley transforms itself with every changing season. Inaccessibility is a major downside of its undersell, yet, it is satisfactorily incredible and well worth all the difficulty of getting there.

To put it briefly, Samburu is scenically-splendid, wild and savage, with plenty of wildlife concentrated along River Ewaso Nyiro. And the excursion to Samburu is no less interesting. The newly built A2 Road, connecting Nairobi and Moyale, and traversing Samburu, is a joy to drive on.  If all the above were not sufficient, the appeal of this area is capped by the authenticity of its Samburu Community. Adorned with painting, scarring, colorful regalia and ornaments, the Samburu People are as distinct as they are unique. Their believes, customs, cultures and other flairs splendent when observed at close quarters. Most akin to the Maasai.

While many of the hills and mountains in the south of Kenya are associated as battlefields, the mountains in Maasailand and Samburuland are seldom settled, revered for all manner of divinity. Perhaps in equal measure in both these tribes (the Maasai and Samburu) is the mountainous terrain is an ideal refuge over the drier times of the year, except that their enemies are the other pastoralist communities competing for the same rugged real estate. In stead, the mosaic of patrolarists communities, predominantly of the Samburu, are mainly out in the plains below, less tolerant there, especially over the drier months of the year, where they refrain from coexisting over pasture and are far less civilised over fractious fighting. However, amongst themselves, they have managed to live in peace for decades, left with the all-consuming pursuit of grazing their livestock and the less dangerous one of beading intricate ornamentation and subsistence.

 Sacred Mount Ololokwe in Samburu County.  Image Courtesy of All Events
Sacred Mount Ololokwe in Samburu County.  Image Courtesy of All Events

Salient Features of Samburu County

  • County Number 25
  • Area – 21,000 km2
  • Altitude – 2,000 ms 
  • Major Towns – Maralal, Archer’s Post, Wamba, Baragoi
  • Borders – Laikipia, Isiolo, Baringo, Turkana, Marsabit
Samburu County Map

Brief History Samburu County

The arrival of the British drastically changed the nomadic ways of the Samburu Community who comprise 80% of the population. The British Administration introduced grazing schemes in the 1950’s, against the proclivity of the Samburu Community, as a way to safeguard land that had been previously over-grazed.  Also, some forests were demarcated by the new administration, where grazing was completely forbidden. In the 1970’s, post independence, the Government of Kenya helped to establish some of its group ranches as a way of re-demarcation. And thus the land ownership was transferred back to the Samburu Community.

View of the Ndoto Mountain Range.  Image Courtesy of Samburu Primate Research
Ndoto Mountain Range.  Image Courtesy of Samburu Primate Research
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35 Attractions in Samburu County, arranged as one would visit these - south, north, west then south - with aid of in-depth narratives, images, strip maps and distance chart:

Shaba National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Ashnil Samburu Camp, Archer's Post, Chanler’s Falls, Umoja Cultural Village, Nashipa Eco Lodge, Samburu National Reserve, Kalama Conservancy, Saruni Samburu Lodge, Westgate Conservancy, Meibei Conservancy, Namunyak Conservancy, Mount Ololokwe, Reteti Sanctuary, Mathews Range, Kitich Camp, Sarara Camp, Singing Wells, Sera Conservancy, Saruni Rhino Camp, Ndoto Mountains, Ngurunit Valley, Mount Nyiru, El Barta, Samburu Hills, The Nachola Site, Losiolo Escarpment, Emuruangogolak, Kirisia Forest, Ngari Hill Ecolodge, Maralal Game Reserve, Yale Camp, Maralal Camel Derby, Kenyatta House.

Geography, Land-Use, Highlights, Population, Roads, Airports, Climate and National Monuments in Samburu County