Experiencing Saruni Samburu and Seeing the Northern 5 in Kenya - Africa

Our experience at Saruni Samburu was unbelievable! Yes, I know I say this often but I mean it! From the room to the food to the guides, our stay was absolutely perfect and we were sad to leave. We even got up close and personal with the Northern Five native to Northern Kenya!

Reticulated Giraffe seen while on safari with Saruni Samburu

Reticulated Giraffe seen while on safari with Saruni Samburu

How to Get to Samburu, Kenya

We stopped in Nairobi and took a smaller plane to Samburu for about an hour's flight. They did weigh our luggage but you give them your bags over a counter so you can kinda hide a camera if you’re worried about the 33 lb weight limit. The coolest part was sitting behind the pilots and landing on a dirt runway!

Flight to Samburu Kenya.jpg
Landing Samburu Kenya.jpg

Our guide met us there and took us to the Saruni Rhino where we spent a few days but the drive from the air strip was about 30-45 minutes from Saruni Samburu.

See more on our trip to Saruni Rhino and how we got up close and personal with a baby rhino here: Rhino Tracking at the Saruni Rhino

Guest Rooms at Saruni Samburu

Guest Room Bed at Saruni Samburu

Guest Room Bed at Saruni Samburu

I wish we had more time to spend in the room! WHO SAYS THAT?! Well, when you have a room with a second floor and a lovely living room overlooking Kenya, why wouldn’t you?!

As we walked into our room, which was not a suite, this is their standard room, we were blown away by the size of the room and the balcony attached to it!

Panorama of our room

Panorama of our room

View from our room

View from our room

We then discovered we had another room upstairs! This room was also large in size set up like a living room, complete with a dining table.

Our living room attached to our bedroom

Our living room attached to our bedroom

The bathroom was huge and had a bidet next to the toilet. Not only was there a shower inside the bathroom, but there was also a shower outside overlooking the conservation. I did take a shower outside one morning while watching elephants at the waterhole.


Safari Time at Saruni Samburu

How do safaris work?

We weren’t sure exactly what to expect for our safaris, but we were very happy with our experience. Everyday you’ll head out in the morning or afternoon for a safari. Depending on what you see and how great your guide is, you’ll drive around for 5-8 hours which sounds crazy but goes by real quick! Our car was completely open and had panels that came down in case it rained.

Elephant Crossing

Elephant Crossing

What should you wear on a safari?

I read a ton of blogs telling me what to pack and that I needed to purchase $100 safari shirts… Let me tell you, I was just fine in my Gap t-shirt and leggings. We did treat our clothes with permethrin, a bug repellent for your clothes. In the morning and late afternoon, I made sure to have a sweatshirt but there were also blankets in the car. Unless you are getting out of the vehicle, which you aren’t supposed to, there’s no reason not to where something comfortable that you can sit in for long periods of time.

Traffic in the conservancy

Traffic in the conservancy

Our Safari Experience

Joseph was our guide for the time we were at Saruni Samburu as well as Saruni Rhino. Since he is from the local village, he knew the area (and animals) very well and was phenomenal at finding animals far away. Joseph understood various animal behaviors and explained their actions, teaching us fun facts about each animal.

Reticulated Giraffe having Breakfast

Reticulated Giraffe having Breakfast

Here are some of the animals we saw over the course of 3 days:

  1. Impalas - we even saw a newborn, birthed seconds before we arrived

  2. Batiat foxes 🦊 

  3. Beisa Oryx (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)

  4. Leopards - mama and cubs

  5. Egyptian geese 🦆 

  6. Lions 🦁 

  7. Elephants

  8. Dik-diks - little antelopes about a foot tall

  9. Rock hyraxes 

  10. Wilds dogs - very rare

  11. Somali ostrich (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)

  12. Dwarf mongoose

  13. Fotery guinea fowl

  14. Gerenuk

  15. Grant’s Gazelles

  16. Grevy’s Zebras 🦓 (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)

  17. Nile crocodile 🐊 

  18. Cheetah 

  19. Reticulated Giraffes (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)

  20. Warthogs - Even our guide called them pumbaas (which means dumb in Swahili)! Since they have such a short term memory, they are known to walk by a lion and walk back to the same spot 5 minutes later, forgetting they had passed it.

  21. Eastern yellow-billed hornbill - AKA the flying banana or Zazu from the Lion King

  22. Baboons

  23. Monkeys

Cheetah stalking antelope

Cheetah stalking antelope

We went out in the early morning and late afternoon covering all basis to see as many animals as possible. Every day we saw something different and right when one day couldn’t possibly top the day before, it did! Depending on how long we were going out, we either ate before or after the safari, or they packed us breakfast or lunch.

Can you spot the leopard? pun intended

Can you spot the leopard? pun intended

The topography was very dry and looked like the elephant graveyard in the Lion King. There is a river about an hour away and the closer you get, the more animals you see! Keep your eyes peeled and be patient. Sometimes just sitting and watching the animals for a while is fun to observe their behaviors. You never know what they might do!

Baby baboon by the river

Baby baboon by the river

Elephant at the water hole at night

Elephant at the water hole at night

One of our nights, we even went out for a night drive. I was nervous going into the dark at night at first and wondered what animals we’d see but there were so many we came across:

  1. Porcupine

  2. Owl 🦉 

  3. Hawk

  4. Hare

  5. Jackal

  6. Male and female Ostriches

  7. Striped hyena - very shy, very rare

  8. Family of Elephants

The Northern Five in Kenya

We were lucky to find the Kenyan Northern Five including the Somali Ostrich, Gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Beisa Oryx, and the Reticulated Giraffe!

Here we go…

1. Somali Ostrich

The Somlai Ostrich differs from most ostriches with a bluish color on their neck and legs, instead of a pink color. The males were beautiful with black and white feathers, while the females had grayish brown feathers.


2. Gerenuk

As part of the antelope family, Gerenuks are also known as giraffe gazelles, appropriately named with their long necks and slender limbs. They’ll even stand erect on their hind legs to reach higher branches. I loved the pattern in their ears!

Gerenuk - Kenyan Northern Five

Gerenuk - Kenyan Northern Five

3. Grevy’s Zebra

In comparison to other zebras, Grevy’s unique characteristics include their taller height, large ears, narrower stripes, and white bellies with no stripes. with their stripes being closer together and thinner, it is easier for them to make a good escape and to hide from predators. Foals are born with brown and white striping which darken as they grow older.

Family of Grevy’s Zebras

Family of Grevy’s Zebras

4. Beisa Oryx

Also known as the East African Oryx, they are recognized by their long horns and striped markings. Yeah, even though they eat grass, I wouldn’t mess with those horns!

Beisa Oryx

Beisa Oryx

5. Reticulated Giraffe

Also known as the Somali Giraffe and most commonly seen in zoos. Their beautiful coats consists of large, polygonal, liver-colored spots outlined by bright-white lines.

Reticulated Giraffe

Reticulated Giraffe

Our camera gear used to grab these gorgeous photos:

Food at Saruni Samburu

The owner of the Saruni franchise is Italian and all food was also Italian with a Kenyan flair. There were always 3 courses for every meal and we never left feeling hungry! Dessert was always a must! Alcohol was included which we typically had wine and beer. There was a beverage menu with more options that you could pay for.

The Grounds at Saruni Samburu

There were 2 gorgeous infinity pools within a short walking distance fo our room. Although they weren’t heated, it was nice to take a dip then sit and enjoy the view.


The main lodge was a nice place to hang out as well. Sometimes before or after a meal we’d hang out and have a drink by the bonfire, or just lounge on the big couches and enjoy the view.


Wifi was only available near the main lodge and it wasn’t very good. Don’t count on working from there, but a few social media posts will go through… eventually.

Activities to do while at Saruni Samburu


Our room came with a complimentary massage for 30 mins for one person. After lugging around our heavy bags through airports, I was ready for a back and neck massage!


Bush Walk

We walked around the outskirts of our lodge with our guide and a ranger, and came across a pack of wild dogs! Apparently they are very rare to see. I thought they were hyenas at first, I just loved their big ears!

Wild Dogs - Rare sight!

Wild Dogs - Rare sight!

Star Gazing

At night there was practically no light pollution leaving a sky full of stars! We were able to see the Milky Way and on Josh’s Sony A7, he was able to capture the Milky Way!

Milky Way seen from the balcony of our room

Milky Way seen from the balcony of our room

We had a wonderful stay at Saruni Samburu and highly recommend it to anyone booking a future trip to Africa. We booked through Scott Dunn to get the best service and bang for our buck! Please tell them we sent you!

Please note this is not a sponsored post and based on my own personal experience, all thoughts are my own.

If you liked this post please share it on your favorite social media site using the Share button below because we’d love to get the word out! Feel free to pin this to your favorite Pinterest board:

Saruni Samburu and the Northern Five in Kenya.png
Saruni Samburu and the Northern Five in Kenya
Saruni Samburu and the Northern Five in Kenya.png

Other posts from Africa (see all Africa posts here)