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Samburu or Meru?

New York, New York
posts: 284
reviews: 12
Samburu or Meru?

Hi,

I'm trying to figure out my honeymoon itinerary for our Kenya trip next July and can't decide between Samburu or Meru areas? Can anyone help me figure out which one is the best place? I may only have time for two areas and have already chosen Mara.

Thanks

35 replies to this topic
London, United...
posts: 990
1. Re: Samburu or Meru?

Nomad,

Oh dear, decision time!! The hardest bit.

Meru is I think, still the least visited Parks in the Country, mainly due to it suffering terribly from poachers in the 80s/90s, plus it is miles from anywhere. Last time I was there I never saw another vehicle, with the exception of one KWS Ranger, truly amazing. Only downfall, no Rhino really (there is a Sanctuary, I don’t count penned in animals), but given that they are a little on the shy side, so getting really close is not easy, not the biggest worry. The difference between that area and the Mara, is truly amazing, big old trees, etc, etc and as I have said, no white vans by the dozen.

Samburu is nice too, with the backdrop of Hills and Mountains, it is an open savannah, bush scrub, landscape, that has its place, but doesn’t look that attractive, though it makes the wild life easier to spot, and if I remember right, access to Shabba/Buffalo Springs (over the road) thrown in. On the downside, it has been the site of a few Armed Bandits incidents in recent years. Again, no Rhino due to poaching, and too many other people wandering around, it can be done in a day trip from Nanyuki.

Personally, since rediscovering it a few years ago, I’m a Meru every time man! It just looks and feels more like authentic ‘Africa’.

nyc
posts: 13,837
2. Re: Samburu or Meru?

That's somewhat difficult. Both are excellent.

Meru, with stay at Elsa's, voted best camp in Africa is a winner with lovely accommodations and so romantic. There are only 2 camps in the park, so few other vehicles and certainly no crowds. Game though can sometimes be sparse, but it's sure not empty. And, some of the northern species (see Samburu below) have made their way here. The camp is set on George Adamson's original camp... where Elsa the lion of Born Free fame was released and is buried not far from the camp. The camp does have a pool and excellent services, but no night game drives (unless extra fee, if small).

At Samburu you have the unique northern species as reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, gerenuk antelope, Beisa oryx, Somali ostrich, camel, and a few wild dog packs. Both Saruni on the private Kalama conservancy and SaSaab on the Western conservancy adjacent to Samburu Reserve are beautiful and as Elsa's very romantic. Being on the conservancies you also have the benefit of bush walks and night game drives, though game drives can be done both on the conservancies and within the Reserve. Saruni has a pool with outstanding food and services, where SaSaab has private plunge pools, though they're not all that large and also fine food/services.

The three are in about the same price range, though SaSaab might be a tad more expensive which doesn't indicate better or less so... just how it's priced.

So, toss a coin. You won't go wrong with any of these camps or reserves.

Yes, Meru does have a protected Rhino sanctuary and maybe we were lucky... but mom and baby where riight up at the fence and rather curious of us.

Good luck!

Edited: 5:49 pm, July 22, 2013
New York, New York
posts: 284
reviews: 12
3. Re: Samburu or Meru?

Gosh-tough one is right!!! They all sound fabulous for different reasons.

GJGB-are you a Meru man after going on many safaris? Perhaps then, more peace and quiet is nice and the need to see animals is less? And what is this about armed bandits? Is this while on safari? I would hope that staying at these expensive, luxurious resorts that high security is valued? or is this while driving between resorts? I will fly then ;)

And thank you 4Sandi. I think you are right when you say I cannot go wrong.

Well, I think after this, I'm leaning towards two places and staying 3-4 nights in each and then heading off to seychelles. Probably Mara and Samburu.Those rare species that people talk of sound nice to see!

Thanks again.

New York, New York
posts: 284
reviews: 12
4. Re: Samburu or Meru?

Also, since it seems I will just be flying from place to place and have my lodging picked out, that having one of these guide outfitters seem unnecessary like Glorious tours or PD tours. Do you recommend I chose a different operator that just makes custom itineraries that usually has these high end camps/lodges? If so, any recs? They are starting to blur together for me ;)

nyc
posts: 13,837
5. Re: Samburu or Meru?

If interested in any of the camps I mentioned, then go direct to C&P who can book any of them.

Yes, there were one or two incidents of bandits in the Samburu area, 1/last year* and another a year prior... these though not regular occurences. Sadly, with so much poaching of game in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa, for that matter worldwide, the bad guys can pop up anywhere. In fact, there was an incident in the Mara about 3-4/yrs ago and other 2/yrs back... authorities out quickly and the bad guys located and any items stolen, most found and returned. But then, you have to ask yourself "where is it completely safe these days", as a fellow New Yorker should know well.

*as soon as this was learned by some of the camps in the area, staff were out in a 'NY minute' to find/locate them along with the authorities. Locals don't take these instances lightly.

You will though be flying between areas and the camps mentioned have patrols 24/7 by their own security and I haven't heard of visitors being attacked. In fact, at Samburu (nearby to SaSaab) there is a young women who monitors the lion project who lives in a simple tent with her Masai assistant nearby... she's been doing this for years and if she felt any fear of humans (bandits), wouldn't remain.

If all of us worried constantly of one-off incidents, we'd never leave home. How boring that would be!

London, United...
posts: 990
6. Re: Samburu or Meru?

Nomad,

Wait until you catch the Africa bug! No, but seriously, I often work out there too, and need a to get away from it all when I do!

It isn’t that hard to spot the wild life in Meru, just harder than the grassland, the fact the first indication you get is not a circle of white vans and clicking cameras, but it makes it more fun and ‘real’. As for differing species, it has the same as Samburu, it isn’t that far in ‘animal miles’, I have also spotted far many more Lion, Leopard and Cheetah there on my last trip, but always remember, animals will be where they want, they don’t show up to please tourists.

Yes Samburu, Shabba and B Springs have had more than their fair share of Armed Bandits over the past couple of years, and tourists are no exception, you are rich pickings for them. Cash, Cards, Passports, Cameras, Laptops, are tasty treats for naughty men. Security is valued there, but once you are wandering the hills and valleys for no more than a driver, you are easy pickings, that said, the KWS have upped their Patrols, etc, but I will place a bet now, that when it happens again, the headline will begin Samburu! It has always been a little wild frontierish beyond Isiolo.

I know what you mean about the everything planned and you being ‘dragged’ around, hence why I drive everywhere and organise everything myself, but you don’t have the time, etc, so you must live with it. You do not have to use a tour Company though, you can arrange everything yourself, Lodges and game drives from them arranged, flights can easily be booked online, however, you may perhaps miss the odd discount, though I never have, but most importantly, given you have no friend network in Country, you will be rogered if anything goes a miss!

London, United...
posts: 990
7. Re: Samburu or Meru?

Sandi, They are hardly rare incidents, I recall late last year a dozen or so people were killed and around the same amount of Policemen north of Samburu NP, and in April another Policeman was killed at Archer's Bridge, all of which led the Governor to 'declare war' on Bandits in the area! Whilst neither are in the NP, they are not far and shows the Bandits are getting braver again! Whilst I don't advocate hiding away at home, the e

sensible option is to choose somewhere else, I don't recall much happening around Meru in the last few years or 10!

Edited: 6:47 pm, July 22, 2013
Boston...
posts: 755
reviews: 92
8. Re: Samburu or Meru?

If you can swing Elsa's Kobje, i highly recommend.. It is SPECTACULAR.. And indeed unique and off the beaten path... we saw lots and lots of animals...grevy zebra, cheetah, birds, more animals than i can count.. We went in september.. animals Not sparse at all

Lots of security too.. Not a single worry.

Loved samburu too... But definitely a different feel

Edited: 7:50 am, July 23, 2013
New York, New York
posts: 284
reviews: 12
9. Re: Samburu or Meru?

Hmm, is it really not safe in Samburu? I'm a little confused though. Do they target those who are with a driver going with their luggage between camps/lodges, or are they targeting tourists while they are on safari or going to visit a local village? I had a bit of a scare in Argentina so my fiancee and I would like to avoid those situations as much as possible if that's the case.

Perhaps I should stay in Meru. I'm hoping since I'll be there in the beginning of July that there will be plenty of animals. But sounds like I'll just have to pray for them ;).

Also, I was planning on flying between camps and airport since I'm now going to two camps instead of 3. Do I really miss out on the pretty driving experience that some TA members talk about on their discussion chains?

Thanks

London, United...
posts: 990
10. Re: Samburu or Meru?

Nomad,

But one could say it is not unsafe either!!! Sadly, they are Bandits, and very opportunist, so none can say where they will strike or when, or even if! I would say, again, that I have not heard of a serious or in fact any incident in Meru in a long time, whilst Samburu seems to be having a run of very bad luck with these irksome creatures.

There is an abundance of game in Meru, it is just that it is more difficult to spot, given the nature of the environment, lush trees and bushes, etc. But the Guides will ensure you see all you can wish, I am sure, plus the difference between that and the Mara savannah and Samburu scrublands is amazing.

As for missing out by not driving, of course you are, but some of those drives are a bit arduous, NBO to Mara can be bordering evil some days and you have very limited time. You will still get a view of Mt Kenya, etc, the Pilots aren’t stupid and know what is interesting along the way, they will obviously not fly around forever, but they will make it as interesting as possible for all involved.

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