Samburu is home to some extraordinary and rare species that we rarely get a chance to see or photograph known at The Samburu Special 5. The strangest of these is the Gerenuk (or long necked gazelle) who seem to outnumber the impala in the area. They are fascinating creatures who feed by standing upright on their hind legs stretching out that ridiculously long neck to browse on the new leaves higher up the bushes and trees.
Along with the Gerenuk you will see plenty of Reticulated Giraffes, Somali Ostrich, Grevy’s Zebra and also the unique Beisa (or East African) Oryx which make up the rest of the five. The birdlife is prolific with several exotic species including the Somali Bee-eater, Vulturine Guinea Fowl and The Golden Breasted Starlings making for some awesome imagery.
But it doesn’t stop with the fauna as the flora is also startling and none more so that the Doum Palms which are the only example of palm trees with multiple trunks and heads. Great for sunset shots!
A huge highlight though are the Samburu people though who are some of the nicest, gentlest and certainly best dressed and adorned of all the Kenyan tribes. Unlike the more famous Masai the Samburu warriors wear more blue than red and have taken the use of silver and gold decorations to the next level. They are striking and hugely impressive and most importantly happy to have their photos taken. They are incredibly proud of their heritage and custom and are incredibly photogenic people in general.
The lodge that we use is called Saruni Samburu owned by the delightful Riccardo Orrizio. A journalist from Italy in his previous life he is now a dedicated conservationist and a true gentleman with an impeccable reputation in the travel industry. We will probably never know what possessed Riccardo to chose to build this lodge on top of a rocky mountain but we are so very happy that he did. Its breathtaking!
Riccardo has recently completed a fantastic photographic hide within easy reach of the lodge and is a first of its kind in Kenya. Built using a shipping container its seats four photographers in comfort and is starting to produce some great images from the animals drinking in the waterhole just in front.
Situated just outside the Samburu reserve on a private conservancy this small lodge spread out over this rocky base is beautifully decorated and designed utilising the natural stone formation wherever possible. Some of the rooms have been built around boulders as large as houses and the views from every room are spectacular. The food and service are superb with delicious Italian delicacies and staples making it onto the menu.
We are so glad to have found Samburu and we would encourage everyone traveling to Kenya to include this package into your itinerary. You will not be disappointed.
When you are in Samburu spending some time with the tribe its an idea to pack a flash with you to make the most of the portraiture opportunities. The warriors are very amenable to having their photo taken and this experience is very rewarding both photographically and culturally.
Location : Samburu, Northern Kenya