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Saruni Samburu

Saruni Samburu is a beautiful and exclusive tented lodge built on a hill in the Kalama Conservancy to the north of Samburu National Reserve.

Upon arrival at Saruni Samburu the first thing you think is ‘wow’. The setting is stunning and the views are pretty spectacular. Many years ago when the property first opened it was a bit soulless – an amazing lodge which lacked the management to bring it all together. Now, it is a slick and well run property, with super food and attentive service and very comfortable accommodation offering a mix of the authentic and contemporary. The villas can still offer a very private experience for those who prefer that, but the lodge now has a more communal atmosphere and a hands on management team. In terms of activities, there is the option of game viewing in Samburu which is classic big game country. However, core game viewing areas are 50 minutes drive from the lodge.

The Kalama Conservancy is a little thin on game compared to the core areas of the National Reserve, though game concentrations are improving. Local activities also focus on visiting nearby communities, taking you to their underground hide overlooking a water hole, and to various fantastic sunset spots. Saruni Samburu is a lodge where you can combine some big game viewing with a heavy dose of relaxation, spectacular scenery and interesting cultural experiences.

Rooms

Saruni Samburu has six villas spread out along the hillside, all with magical views. They are built with a combination of solid walls and canvas, technically tented but a little more spacious and luxurious than the usual safari tent. The front of all villas can be left completely open, though there are canvas blinds that may be closed up at night. All villas have en suite plumbed bathrooms and private indoor and outdoor sitting areas where meals may be enjoyed. Two of the villas are completely detached, whilst another two have separate entrances but are linked by a large lounge area and additional private sitting areas. These villas can be sold as individual units with the lounge area closed off, or as one larger two bedroomed unit (suitable for friends travelling together or families). The last two villas are family villas with one entrance and two en suite bedrooms linked by an internal lounge area. There are quite a few steps at the property with some of the villas being a reasonable walk from the main areas which may not suit everyone.

Central Areas

The central area of the lodge contains an open plan lounge and a dining room. Meals are generally hosted and taken communally, though private dining is easily arranged as everything is very flexible to suit your needs. There is a Samburu Wellbeing Space offering a variety of massages and treatments, with a complimentary 30 minute massage included per room during your stay, and two infinity swimming pools.

Facilities

Wi-Fi – Yes
Power for Charging – Yes
Swimming Pool – Yes

Habitat & Wildlife

Saruni Samburu is located in the Kalama Conservancy which borders Samburu National Reserve to the north. Samburu is a relatively small reserve, but is continuous with two further protected areas, the Buffalo Springs Game Reserve and Shaba National Park.

The reserves lie at an altitude of around 3000ft above sea level and have a typical semi-arid habitat comprising essentially of acacia bush with riverine woodland along the river courses. The Ewaso Nyiro river is the region’s lifeline, and responsible for the large animal populations which include elephant, lion, leopards, Grevy’s zebra, buffalo, hyaena, impala, hartebeest, baboon, hippo, crocodile, vervet monkey, dik dik, and the Reticulated giraffe as well as species specifically adapted to the dry environment – Beisa oryx and the long necked gerenuk. The bird species are also representative of the habitats, with a variety of raptors, shrikes, babblers, starlings, the vulturine guineafowl and the Somali ostrich commonly seen. The people of the region include the colourful Samburu (cousins of the Masai), the Sakuye, Ndorobo, Somali and Boran. The Samburu can often be seen on the borders of the reserves tending to their livestock.

The Kalama Conservancy does do not offer the same game populations as Samburu Game Reserve, but there is general game to see, and elephants often visit the water hole where an underground hide has been built. There are some amazing sunset spots from the various hills in the conservancy.

Activities

Game drives into Samburu Game Reserve are offered and are very productive for game viewing, especially for leopard, elephant and lion. However, with core game areas 50 minutes away from the lodge, twice daily game drives into Samburu are unlikely. Two game drives into the reserve within a three night stay would be most likely. Game drives on Kalama Conservancy can be interesting and are very exclusive, but rarely produce significant big game sightings. However night drives are possible on the conservancy and can be more productive.

There is also a photographic hide which offers guests the opportunity to photograph animals at a water hole from ground level.

Cultural visits form a significant part of your stay at Saruni Samburu with the Kalama Conservancy being home to several Samburu villages (there is usually a visiting fee to be paid to the villages locally).

Walking is also possible on the conservancy and various options exist from short afternoon walks to beautiful sunset spots, to more dedicated, longer morning walks. Day trips to climb the sacred Ololokwe Mountain are also possible (at extra cost).

Although not technically safari activities, it is worth saying that swimming in the lodge pools, admiring the views, relaxing in the sun, reading a good book and perhaps enjoying a massage could all form part of your stay at Saruni Samburu!

Seasons

Saruni Samburu is open all year round, though November, April and May in particular can be affected by rain. Game viewing is generally best in Samburu between July and October.

Saruni Samburu is very suitable for families who wish to combine big game viewing with relaxation in the sun, possibly some walking and certainly some meaningful cultural interaction. The family villas are perfect and very spacious. There is no ‘kids club’, but they do have a dedicated ‘Samburu Warriors’ program which is aimed at younger guests. Guides and staff will also be great at entertaining children and teaching them about Africa. However, very young children may not be suited to the lodge location or experience.

Saruni Samburu is the only lodge on the Kalama Conservancy and so provides income to the local Samburu people in the area through employment and training. Through its conservation fees, funds on behalf of the guests are given to the Samburu landowners, incentivising the communities to protect their land and wildlife.

Saruni, owners of Saruni Samburu, are members of the Mara North Conservancy (MNC) and part of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) both of which are community-owned wildlife conservancies highlighting the connection between communities and conservation through tourism.

ALTERNATIVE CAMPS IN THE Samburu & MATTHEWS RANGE