Samburu & Matthews Range

Arid, craggy terrain with Doum palms tracing the river lines.


Wild and soul-stirring, Samburu National Park lies in the tribal lands of the Samburu people. It is nestled in a hot and arid thorn bush area north of Mount Kenya.

Samburu National Park lies north of the Ewaso Ng’iro River. It’s a mix of rolling plains, rocky outcrops and thorn bush. Buffalo Springs lies south of the river. To the east lies Shaba National Reserve, dominated by Shaba Hill. This is a beautiful little park. Here the endangered wild dog are also sometimes found.

The river is the lifeblood of the Samburu region, especially in the dry season. Elephant, buffalo, cheetah, lion and leopard come to quench their thirst. Plus the dry terrain gives low grass cover and thus easier game-viewing.

A particular facet of Samburu is the interaction with the local Samburu tribes. They are excellent guides and you gain a fascinating insight into their culture. You may want to visit the community projects which are run by many Samburu camps.

There are some great private safari camps in the region and our favourite camps are the luxurious Sasaab Camp and Saruni Samburu camp.

Matthews Mountain Range

North of both Laikipia and Samburu is the Matthews Range, a remote, unspoilt and rarely visited area. Wildlife find this verdant forest a natural refuge amid its arid surroundings.  You can spot elephant, buffalo, kudu, waterbuck and giant forest hog as well as a variety of forest birds. Leopard, lion and wild dog are also present but less commonly seen. One of the Matthews Range camps we like is the charming Kitich Camp which specializes in scenic walking safaris. This is a welcome change after several days of sitting on game-vehicles.


Why you may love it

  • Arid, craggy terrain with Doum palms tracing the river lines
  • See ‘dry area’ wildlife that you won’t easily see elsewhere - the rare reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra and Beisa oryx
  • Leopards love this park because of its rocky terrain and steep ravines
  • The birdlife is among the most spectacular in the world, with over 400 species recorded, mostly near the river
  • Samburu tribes make excellent guides
  • Visit the remote Matthews Mountain Range north of Samburu for a walking safari experience

Explore the Samburu & Matthews Range map

When to visit Samburu & Matthews Range

Mid-December to March

Summer in Samburu & Matthews Range

Samburu lies to the north of the central highlands but at a much lower altitude. It is at the border of Kenya’s semi-arid northern region. Daytime temperatures are around 32-33C but nights are pleasantly cool at 15C.
MAX TEMP 34 ℃ / 93 ℉
MIN TEMP 16 ℃ / 60 ℉

Mid-March to May

Autumn in Samburu & Matthews Range

The long rains here take the form of hard afternoon showers but overall rainfall is much lower than further south. April is the wettest month.
MAX TEMP 32 ℃ / 90 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 62 ℉

June to October

Winter in Samburu & Matthews Range

This is best time to visit but it remains warm (31C) and temperatures rise towards the start of the short rains.
MAX TEMP 31 ℃ / 87 ℉
MIN TEMP 15 ℃ / 59 ℉

November to mid-December

Spring in Samburu & Matthews Range

This is the time of the short rains, again short hard showers in the afternoon. This breaks the temperatures so is welcomed by all.
MAX TEMP 31 ℃ / 88 ℉
MIN TEMP 15 ℃ / 61 ℉

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Did you know
  • GeographyMatthews Mountain Range runs for 150km
  • ConservationSamburu part of the Lion Conservation Unit since 2005

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Sonja Brand

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