Samburu County

Attractions in Samburu County

11. Westgate Conservancy

Wedged between Namunyak Conservancy (north), Kalama Conservancy (east) and Samburu National Reserve (south), Westgate covers a 367 km2 rangleland with a core conservation area of 9 km2 and buffer zone of 12 km2. The area was formerly the community-owned Ngutuk-Ongiron Group Ranch. Almost self-same with the surrounding conservancies, the landscape is that of the thorny acacia scrubland dotted with a great many impressive rocky outcrops. The main tree species include various Acacia and Commiphora: Acacia Species – Lchurai, Ltepes, Ildepe, Lderkesi, Sesiai; and Commiphora species including – Siokotei, Lcheningiro and Samanderi. An archetypal scenery of Northern Kenya.  Unique to Westgate Conservancy is that is hosts upwards of 500 Grevy’s Zebra, which are endemic to Northern Kenya. Other Key wildlife species include Reticulated giraffes, lions, impala, wild dogs, elephants, Grant’s gazelles, leopards, cheetah, Lesser and Greater kudu and warthogs, among others. Likewise, Westgate is one of the inspirational success story in communal integration of wildlife-land management. The only accommodation at Westgate Conservancy is the 18-bed luxury Saasab Tented Camp which is nestled on the banks of River Ewaso Nyiro (the main water source within the conservancy) and which looks out to Laikipia Plateau and Mount Kenya National Park. The main gate into Westgate is found about 70 kms from Archer’s Post. You travel north via A2 then west via the C79 Archer’s Post-Baragoi Road; that forms its northern boundary with Namunyak.

Aerial View of Saasab Tented Camp in Westgate Conservancy
Aerial View of Saasab Tented Camp in Westgate Conservancy

The architecture of Sasaab follows strong Moroccan design, in which African heat is of primary consideration. Each of the nine Moroccan-styled rooms is over 100m² with an enormous open-air bathroom and private plunge pool. From the veranda, guests can take in the remarkable views across the Laikipia Plateau toward the jagged peak of Mount Kenya. Its position on the river naturally facilitates watching the vast herds of elephant that come to bathe

12. Meibei Conservancy

Meibei Conservancy, famous for its abundant wildlife and incredible landscape, remains largely an undeveloped wilderness with decisive potential for tourism, which will, before long, become the priority for the local community working in conjunction with Northern Rangelands Trust who are implementing a grazing management program aiming to holistically involve land-use planning and new grazing methods at the whopping 116 km2 conservancy. Meibei Conservancy is comprised of Ngaroni, Lpus and Barsalinga communally-owned group ranches. Found around the foothills of Matthew Range it boasts of an especial landscape.

13. Namunyak Conservancy

The intrepid who decides to travel up into Northern Kenya – it is 223 kms from Archer’s Post to Marsabit – now travels on tarmac all the way through some of Kenya’s most beautiful scenery. Of note along the stretch of road from Archer’s Post to Merille, 104 kms, is that it cuts through two protected areas, Namunyak Conservancy (west) and Sera Conservancy (east), redolent of the surpassing 60 kms stretch of road along the A104 between Mtito Andei and Manyani that cuts through Tsavo East National Park. Founded in 1996, the 3,440 km2 Namunyak Conservancy is comprised of six Samburu Group Ranches that joined hands to better manage land and provide a safe range for wildlife to thrive. Namunyak, meaning blessed in Samburu, is notable as the premier community conservancy established in Northern Kenya, consequently growing into a treasure trove for safari enthusiasts who can explore its rare and uncatalogued floral diversity and the outstanding wildlife displays. Likewise, Namunyak serves as a vital wildlife refuge for varied species and is home to plentiful populations of giraffe, gerenuk antelope, leopard, African wild dogs, impala, lion, greater kudu and elephant. Equally stirring are the landmarks and formations: Mount Ololokwe, Mathews Mountain Range and Kitich Forest. It is also home to Sarara Camp and Kitich Camp. Namunyak Trust HQ is about 80 kms northwest of Archer’s Post, via A2.

Spatial Location of Namunyak Conservancy in Samburu County
Spatial Location of Namunyak Conservancy in Samburu County

14. Mount Ololokwe

33 kms northwest of Archer’s Post driving along the A2 Archer’s Post-Merille-Marsabit Road, at the southeast edge of Namunyak Conservancy and isolated in the out-and-out arid plains, there is a spectacular volcanic centerpiece. As far as impressive mountains in Kenya go, few match the elegance and grace of Mount Ololokwe, in equal parts striking and one of the most important cultural sites in Samburu County. Rather unmistakable, its rockface and flat tabletop jut-out, in isolation, from the low-lying plains, peaking at 3,000 feet. It stands-sentinel at the doorstep of Samburu as the universal welcome to the Great North of Kenya. A breathtaking landmark, considered as a sacred mountain locally known as Ol Doinyo Sabache, it is, beyond-doubt, one of the best eminence from where avid hikers can relish beyond-money vistas stretching over the arid plains, Mathews Range and Mount Kenya in the background. For the strong-minded adventurer there is a camping ground at the top of Mount Ololokwe and Sabache Camp at its base. It is located 33 kms from Archer’s Post within Namunyak Conservancy.

View of Mount Ololokwe along A2 Highway. Landmarks in Kenya
View of Mount Ololokwe along A2 Highway. Landmarks in Kenya

15. Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

Until a few decades ago the wildlife in Samburu had been decimated to a likely crises. The genesis and exodus, experts warned, was a lack of empowerment to local communities to take ownership of these resources which they considered a crises they did not create and solutions they did not want to be part of. Today, all that has been refashioned, the local Samburu taking charge of the resources, and the turn-around in the wildlife numbers being a very impressive one. One of the biggest attractions today of such community-led initiatives is, deservedly, Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Established in 2016 within Namunyak Conservancy, Reteti became the first community-managed and community-owned elephant sanctuary in Africa. It enkindles a modern wave of wildlife conservation that is moving-forward Kenya’s agenda of restoring its wildlife and habitats. The very first 40 elephants at Reteti were rescued in 2016 with strong involvement from the communities living around the conservancy, who really wanted to see these elephant thrive and who were previously entangled between ‘a rock and a hard place’ on how to resolve the human-wildlife conflict. Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is open to the public for 3 hour daily – between 8:30-10 am and between 11:30 am and 1 p.m. It is important that you arrive promptly at 8.30 am or 11.30 am and wear green if possible. Conservation fee is Shs. 150 for residents and USD 20 for Non-residents. It is found 63 kms northwest of Archer’s Post at Sereolipi.

One of the most beautiful things about Reteti is that it is a community-owned effort. All employees come from the local Samburu Community. Right now Reteti has 35 staff caring for 12 elephants, which need 24-hour oversight. For many employees, this is their first job. It’s a fine balance between giving elephants space and time to do what they should be doing as elephants, but to also be in tune with an elephant’s needs and behavior so that these keepers know when they need to step in and take a more active parental role. – RWS