Elephant watching begins from the moment you arrive in Samburu. Our specialized guides will meet you at the airport to whisk you straight off to your first elephant encounter. Over the next few days you’ll be introduced to some of our best known elephant families and will get to know them intimately, like the Royals, led by Cleopatra and Anastasia – the largest family in Samburu with distinctive pink birth marks – or the Artists, Winds or Storms.
Our secret talent at Elephant Watch is to approach elephants with reverence, and get them so used to our presence that they let us into the very heart of the family. It is only then that their true magnificence becomes apparent. As elephants begin to slide so close by to the side of the car that you can reach out and touch them, we encourage you to put your cameras down and just enjoy the experience of their true essence.
Listen to the quiet pad of their feet, smell the herbs that have been crushed underfoot, and feel the deep resonance of their infrasonic song as it vibrates through your chest cavity. You might even get splashed by some mud at a wallow! If you really want to understand what’s going on in their minds, a hot tip is to watch the dance of the tips of their trunks. An elephant’s sensory world is dominated by sound, touch and smell.
En route you’ll encounter many other unusual animals endemic to north Kenya, such as Samburu’s special five – the long-necked gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, beisa oryx and blue-legged Somali ostrich – as well as all three species of big cat, wild dog, striped and spotted hyena, and over 350 species of resident birds plus an additional 70 species of migrants. A host of smaller animals also weave their way purposefully through the landscape.
When you begin to feel hungry, an elaborate picnic lunch is served in the shade of a tree by the river with wild creatures all around. Here you can breathe in the sun-warmed air and bask fully in the sensations of Nature. Watching elephants our way is an experience akin to swimming with whales or wild dolphins. Through these magical interactions, enhanced by the long experience and traditional knowledge of your Samburu guides, you begin to recognise how very similar elephants are to us, and the true extent of their intelligence and ability to feel complex emotions.
MEET THE ELEPHANTS
The Royals. The Storms. The Acacias and the Artists. The Spice Girls and the Native Americans. These are some of the names by which we have come to know many of the 66 families of elephants that live in Samburu National Reserve and its surrounding ecosystem. Depending on the rains, these individuals can be joined by as many again coming together to socialize. This makes Samburu one of the finest areas to see these majestic and threatened animals in their natural habitat.
MEET THE LIONS
Our friends at Ewaso Lions have been studying the lion prides that live in Samburu and Buffalo Springs since 2003, with the aim of understanding how large carnivores and human populations can better live together. Led by Shivani Bhalla, who previously worked for Save the Elephants, the study was kicked off by an extraordinary incident that took place in Samburu in December 2002 when a young lioness adopted an Oryx antelope calf and took care of it for 16 days.