The poor tribe of the Samburu


In times it was known as Loibor Kineji (town of the white goats), and although they call themselves Loikop, we know them as the Samburu town. Ranchers and farmers, the history of this tribe is closely linked to that of the Masai, with whom they share almost all of their culture. Since yesterday, we are in their lands ...

Sleeping on the banks of the Ewaso, at the Samburu Lodge where we stayed last night, is a real privilege. The Ewaso Nyiro River is the source of life for the entire area. It runs through the south of the dividing line that separates Samburu from the Buffalo Springs Reserve. The crocodiles, which surround the camp, share the river with small herds of elephants that bathe and frolic in the dark and murky waters during the heat of the day before grazing again in the lush vegetation of the riparian forest. We soon get underway and go out to our first gamedrive (photo safari) of the day. Behind we also call locally "Water Brown" that flows from the highlands of Kenya to enter a park that has nothing to do with the Masai Mara, much more publicized and here you can find species that we will not see elsewhere.

At this time of the morning that is still cooling, the life of the park is boiling. As soon as we leave Leshan continues to surprise us. It has an incredible ability to find animals that we would never see from afar. We contemplate the somali ostrich that yesterday we saw from afar, a non-flying bird subspecies of the ostrich, sometimes considered a different species. It is found in East Africa, from the northeast of Ethiopia, Somalia to the northeast of Kenya and that we can only observe in this park. Also a calao watching from its branches or the stylish impalas Eating grass in the green meadows.

The park contains many birds too. Leshan's feline gaze allows us to see a owl, that we were unaware of their existence in these lands. Be careful, you can vulture with its young lurks from the top of a tall tree. Others, such as bustards They control everything from low areas.

But special curiosity we get some curious "chickens", the painted vulturines of which we see a cluster of them throughout the meadow. It looks like a "particular migration." Together with the dik-diks are the most frequently seen animals. They can barely fly and to sleep they climb the branches of the low trees.

Paula, what do you see under that tree? Is a lioness That seems to look for a shadow. If the impalas are stylish, the lions are really the true king of any African park.

There is an animal, belonging to the known "big fives" almost impossible to observe in any safari, and more at this time, the leopard. It is possibly the most adaptable animal of all felines since, except in deserts, I always find a place to hide and survive. It is also able to evade the rest of predators. They are very different from cheetahs in all kinds of behaviors, although we will see them. Leopards preferably hunt at night and tend to sleep in the daytime among the vegetation, looking for a tree to rest and even where to visualize and hunt their prey ... and Leshan is again able to observe him from a distance in a leafy tree. !! A LEOPAAAAAAAARDO !! It is a beautiful animal, and even elegant. His gaze is penetrating. Not only that, but we also see the remains of an impala at the top of a tree, the result of the hunting of some other leopard that has left its remains there.

It is one of the high moments of the day. Just thinking about how he is able to climb just by holding the prey with his teeth by the neck at the top of the trees shows what this "cute kitty" is capable of.

We move towards the river area and again we visualize the largest land animal that exists. elephants. Again they are females, as yesterday, and are accompanied by a small "dumbito". We catch them in "intimate" moment scratching their asses with a branch. Another of the animals that we will only find in Samburu is the Oryx Beisa, an African antelope whose range includes Kenya and the Horn of Africa. It is larger than the other three species of the genus, with long black and straight horns and fawn color, although the belly and face are white. Other beautiful hervivoros

It begins to get very hot and we begin to know the highest area of ​​the park, much more desert. In fact, much of Samburu is in a important desertification phase, as much of the planet Now we begin to understand why the news that comes in the media of this area.

Animals shy away from the sun and less life is seen. We will leave the park for a while and try to know some Samburu people. Any traveler has the possibility to do so by paying 1500 KES per person (which you give to the chief of the tribe) that they use to buy food and enter the children in a nearby school (which we can see in the distance). We can not fool anyone. It is very hard to see the conditions of poverty in which these people live

Is a exciting tribe. Although in this area not only they inhabit (there are about 200,000 samburus) since the search for pasture lands and the establishment of commerce made Kikuyus, Turkanas, Reniles, Somalis and Boranas reach these lands although to a lesser extent. The place of origin of the Samburu is an enigma. It is known that they separated from their nomadic Masai brothers (who live further south) a long time ago, and that both bear similarities with several tribes of Sudan, but local traditions speak of a place called Pagaa from where they emigrated due to drought and hunger.

The Samburu and the Masai are not so different, common customs, similar language. The Samburu however have an exclusive feature, and it is the use of an ivory ring embedded in the lobe of their ear. There are currently 8 clans, 5 descendants of the first patriarchs and the rest of internal struggles.


The main clan is Imasula. In all the power belongs to the elders, and women do not have a relevant role, they only work in the "home" because for the "warrior" it would be a disgrace to do so.

The religious beliefs of the samburus are chaired by Nkaí, the divinity, although they are very cautious to talk about him. Of course, do not miss the opportunity to celebrate sacrifices and ceremonies.

The Samburu are also a town of warriors endowed with strength and endurance. They use spears, daggers, bows, wooden maces, ... To defend themselves they use a kind of buffalo or giraffe skin shield. Walking through the town we enter deeper into the heart of the Samburu.

Their cabins, made of branches, wicker and dung, they are called manyattas and they are made by women.

We can also see how the women and men eat separately, they only take the chai together (a kind of sugary tea). First, the elderly and men eat and finally, what is left over is for women and children. They also only touch the food with the right hand, like Muslims. Another curious thing is that although free sexual relations and having a girlfriend are allowed, it is the father of the bride who decides who he marries, even in situations of humiliation if he marries a different man. Then at the wedding (fixed by the elders according to the moon and constellations) they are given gifts, but it must be made very clear if it is for the man or the woman, because there is separation of goods at all times. Of the ablation of the clitoris during the wedding better almost not even talk…

Children better not talk. A picture is worth a thousand words. They are rich, but they live in very very poor conditions.

We left poverty hoping, at least, to have been able to help these people a little (even 2000 KES in some necklace and other things of remembrance), to return to the park and go to a more similar area a steppe and see the first male elephants . We also see grazing two Warthogs or warthog (or Pumba for friends), a kind of wild gray pig that lives in Africa and is easy to observe. Even ... mmm ... ¿? ¿?a turtle? Don't ask me

The photos assume that they do not do justice to what you get here. There are areas where the hervivoros accumulate to eat that leave their own prints of real postcards

!! Paula giraffes, like your puzzle !! Only about 100,000 remain in the world and of them only about 160 Nigerian giraffes in Central Africa. There are several subspecies, among them those of Rotschild (with just a few hundred other copies but they exist in Kenya and in Murchison, Uganda - will we see them there? -) and the Masai or the Klimanjaro (which we will see in the next few days) We see here are the Reticulated Giraffes that live only in Northern Kenya and are reddish spots. They are beautiful and here they share food with Grevy Zebras also particles from here that we saw yesterday.

The heat begins to be suffocating and we head to the Lodge, which we consider a great success. Especially that little bath that allows us the pool before eating With some nice guest primate.

This curious primate is called green monkey, or rather, "green balls monkey ... blue"Because they are somewhat annoying, trying to steal food as soon as they can and for their curious blue members, hahaha. How capricious nature is sometimes

We have not talked much about the lodge, but its location, in the middle of the Samburu Reserve is privileged. The Ewaso river and the light samburu wind, brings us a relax at these hours of great heat that is appreciated. The wind seems to be very common here and at night, while we slept, next to the sounds of the park, it left a halo of mystery film. It has a small shop where we buy the first memories (4180 KES)

Another beautiful story of the park is the one that tells that between 2001 and 2002, a multitude of scientists came to observe a curious and unique fact of nature. !! a lioness had adopted a baby of orix, animal that is traditionally its food !! But the story does not end there, since during that year the breeding of orix was attacked by other predators and the lioness immediately killed the mother of another orix's offspring and adopted, doing so up to three times. Why? We do not know if at any time something was known about it, but we will find out on the way back

While Leshan tells us the story, we are already moving across the bridge that leads to the other side of the river. We are in Buffalo Springs and here the locals make their lives, sharing habitat with all this special fauna that surrounds them and those who have already become accustomed

Others who share it, are other primates, the Baboon Monkeys, that as if it were human beings, they drink, rest, caress and live alongside the river in communities of 20 and 30 units. It is larger than the "monkey with the balls ... blue" and rarely climbs trees, it is rather terrestrial. At present it is no longer outside Africa. Their food is also curious, since they eat everything from insects, roots, leaves and herbs or small animals such as rodents. Come on, that an omelette ate it without problems. They last up to 45 years

Buffalo Springs initially disappoints at this time of day. There is nothing of nothing of life. Not even the little dik-diks, impalas or graffiti, that are seen so much in Samburu. The landscape changes to a kind of semi-arid terrain with just a few acacias. What we did not know is that we were about to be part of one of those moments that we see in the great National Geographic documentaries ... Leshan begins to see lionesses in an attitude different from that seen in the morning or yesterday. 1, 2, 3, 4 ... !! UP TO 7 LIONS AND LIONS! with his gaze set on the horizon, where our sight is barely able to reach. Hardly, and with the binoculars, we managed to see some Orix in the background with several young. We already know why they don't take their eyes off.

Almost with military discipline, the lionesses sneak up the "battlefield" ignoring us absolutely, and always one at a time to the next point. They advance a few meters and crouch behind an obstacle. A lion, here in Samburu without that great dark mane from other places, gets cas'en in front of us, after a large termite mound (of which there are hundreds in this park).

Leshan sees other safari cars arrive and doesn't want us to miss anything. Formerly he had already lived in an old camp in the area. It takes us to the high zone, where we can observe the whole scene. !! AWESOME !! There is no better point to do it. We no longer see the 7 lionesses, which have been deployed by the "battlefield", but if we have located 3. The Orix are still grazing calmly, even a member has joined the group

At one point and when a lioness goes for a walk, an Orix detects her. Lions have an impressive view, but the Orix only detect movement. He may not know what it is but he has stared at that point. There is no way, no one moves anymore. What patience they have. The Orix is ​​still staring. It is possible that the scene lasts until the night and Leshan does not stop repeating that no piece of this complex chess will move until the Orix takes its eyes off. Lions lie down to rest if they take their eyes off, although occasionally they do the risk of getting up. The Orix, under the guard of what the sentry looks like, begin to pull towards the mountain. The lionesses will have to wait for the night, when they gain advantage with their night vision.

Surely doing a safari in Kenya taking a 4x4 is an incredible experience, but having an experienced person like Leshan takes us to places where not even other safaris arrive. !!! YOU HAVE FOUND A LEOPARD AGAIN!! or how he says "brown parrot", hahaha.

This we see it completely stretched. Is beautiful. If it is really almost impossible to see them today we are privileged. There he is, lonely. Here in Kenya its number has dropped in a worrying way, possibly because of the tourist hunting because it is such a difficult specimen to observe. They climb with amazing ease, which the cheetah does not do. He is an incredible feline, the most adaptable of all, he is even able to throw other predators (lions, hyenas) from his areas. Seeing us there begins to fill with cars. The leopard feels offended and upset and decides to get off the tree and leave among the bushes. Poor little animal

Returning to the Lodge, we hunt a little jineta, mongoose family, very similar to a domestic cat but with a fox face. Another show that we cannot miss, already in the accommodation itself, is the Nile crocodile (which is obviously not exclusive there) is the second largest species of crocodile and one of the three species of crocodiles that inhabit Africa, although we will have time to see it in depth, especially in Uganda on the Nile itself.

One of anecdotes of the day. Paula, what are you looking at? Ah, I see already ... going into detail of the "bugs we are seeing", hahaha. And there are some reproductive devices that "paqué", haha. It's for Jue, I know he loves the details, hahaha

We are writing right now and on the way to Lake Nakuru, already done the checkout (beers and other caprices 2600 KES) reading in a newspaper the reason for the delay of our flight the other day. It turns out that Kenya Airways workers are on strike and hence our impromptu visit to Paris. In any case, we have not assumed any important upset in our ideas, and rested we approach the green area of ​​Mt. Kenya again. But that is another story.

Family, friends, readers, we are great, we eat well and without mosquitoes in sight. With the images of that lazy leopard, that mischievous elephant yesterday or that scene of hunting and stealth of lionesses in the retina, we go in search of new adventures towards the south of the country. A hug to all of both, already mimicked like lions, haha

Paula and Isaac, from the Samburu National Reserve (Kenya)

EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 5,600 KES (approx. 47.06 EUR) and GIFTS: 6180 KES (approx 51.93 EUR)