How to get to Samburu National Reserve

Samburu Game reserve is a gem located about 310 kms from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The two main ways to get to Samburu from Nairobi is either by air or by road. The drive from Nairobi to Samburu Game Reserve takes approximately 5 to 6 hours, using Thika Superhighway Road.

Flying to Samburu is a more convenient option, being only about a 1.5 hours flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to a variety of different airstrips in Samburu.
Listed below is relevant information on how to reach Samburu by road and air from Nairobi with information also on how to reach Samburu and Kenya from overseas, such as from USA, UK, Canada, Europe, Australia India and Dubai UAE. You may contact us for international flight options.

By Road from Nairobi to Samburu

By far the most popular mode of transport from Nairobi to Samburu is by road. The distance varies from 310 kms to 325 kms depending on which gate or entry point of Samburu you want to access. So how long does it take by road to Samburu ? Well, in terms of journey time, typically you want to allow for 6 hours to Archer's Gate which is the main entry to Samburu Game Reserve.
Route: Use the Thika superhighway heading out from Nairobi city and keep on the Nyeri Karatina highway and turn right at Marwa Town - 12 kms from Karatina town; Head North, out of Nanyuki, via Timau and towards Isiolo, basically staying on the main road. (If leaving from JKIA airport, use the Eastern Bypass to connect to Thika Superhighway at Ruiru Road Junction to cut out the city traffic). Once at Archer's Post, just drive a few kilometres off the highway to Archer's gate.

Road Conditions

We often get asked how the road is to Masai Mara by prospective clients planning their safari. Well, most of the route is actually a tarred road starting with highway A104, B3 and finally C12, except for the last section of approximately 1 hour. The tarmac portion of the tarmac road is however in sub standard condition in certain places which includes a few stretches with potholes, while the last unpaved portion can be bumpy and dusty, which however for some simply adds to the adventure of getting to the African wilderness.

A road in Samburu reserve

Marsabit highway heading to Samburu Game Reserve

Safari Vehicles

So which type of Safari vehicles do you get in Samburu ? There are two basic types of vehicles commonly used for Safaris in Kenya and generally in East Africa for that matter and these are the Safari Tour Minibuses ( Tour Vans) and the 4x4 Safari Jeeps, typically Toyota Landcruiser or less commonly Landrover vehicles. All types of vehicles have built in, pop-up game viewing roof hatches which the Driver opens once on a game drive in the park or reserve, UHF Radio Calls and Cooler Boxes. The Tour Vans cost much less than the four wheel drive Safari Jeeps. Should be noted that there are some tour vans which also come with 4x4 capability, albeit with the lack of ground clearance or off road ability that comes with a Landcruiser. Both types of vehicles typically seat a maximum of 7 passengers with 6 being ideal and 8 passengers being the upper limit with an extra seat fitted into the vehicle. Luggage restrictions apply.

Typical Safari Tour Van or Minibus

Typical 4x4 Safari Jeep Landcruiser

Flights to Samburu

There are several airlines flying from Nairobi to various airstrips in Samburu, and several of these offer daily return flight to the reserve, with a one way flight taking approximately 1.5 hours. The same plane then usually turns around back to Nairobi after dropping off or collecting passengers from a number of airstrips in Samburu. Almost all these flights take off from Wilson airport in Nairobi ( as opposed to the JKIA international airport) and you need only be at the airport about 45 mins prior to the flight. The two main airlines are Air Kenya and Safarilink. These two airlines have a reliable service and credible safety record. There are also connecting flights from Samburu to Masai Mara via Nanyuki during the peak season.

Airstrips to Samburu

There are several airstrips in Samburu National Reserve and surrounding game ranches and conservancies. These airstrips are spread out in different parts of the reserve to serve lodges and camps in close proximity to them inorder to cut down transfer time from the airstrip to the hotel. Listed below are some of the commonly used airstrips in Samburu.

The type of aircraft used for flights to Samburu include propellor planes with seating capacities ranging from 40 seaters for DeHavilland Dash 7 and 8 aircraft to 13 seater Cessna Caravans. Passengers are limited to 15 kilos of carry on and check in luggage combined.