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!
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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some of the animals we saw over the course of 3 days:
Impalas - we even saw a newborn, birthed seconds before we arrived
Batiat foxes 🦊
Beisa Oryx (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)
Leopards - mama and cubs
Egyptian geese 🦆
Dik-diks - little antelopes about a foot tall
Wilds dogs - very rare
Somali ostrich (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)
Fotery guinea fowl
Grevy’s Zebras 🦓 (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)
Nile crocodile 🐊
Reticulated Giraffes (part of the Northern Five, more on that below)
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.
Eastern yellow-billed hornbill - AKA the flying banana or Zazu from the Lion King
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.
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!
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:
Male and female Ostriches
Striped hyena - very shy, very rare
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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