Marsabit National Reserve

“This place is God’s gift.” Marsabit is a forested mountain which rises spectacularly from the middle of a desert wilderness and provides the only source of a permanent surface in the region. It has three beautiful crater lakes with a myriad of resident birdlife. The most scenic is the Lake Paradise, made famous in the early films and writings of Martin Johnson and Vivien de Wattville.

Fact File

Altitude 1,000 – 5,000ft.
Area Samburu 1,482 sq. kms
Distance from Nairobi 620 kms
Two airstrips
Opened 1967
Untouched forest, scenic & wild landscape, Crater lakes
Diverse local cultures
Good game viewing: elephant & greater kudu, Former homeland of famous elephant ‘Ahmed’

Originally part of a huge reserve which took in Shaba, Samburu, Buffalo Springs and the Losai National Reserve, the mountain was made a national reserve in its own right. It is a nomadic rangeland and the droughtland of the Rendille herdsmen. Its name means ‘Mountain of Cold’.

One of the area’s most famous residents was the elephant Ahmed – decreed a protected animal by President Jomo Kenyatta’s Order in 1970. Ahmed, who had some of the biggest tusks ever, had a 24-hour armed guard. When Ahmed died, aged 55, his body was preserved and is now on display at the National Museum in Nairobi.

Other game include: Greater kudu, Reticulated Giraffe, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Leopard and caracal. Over 370 species of birdlife have been recorded which include the Somali Ostrich, the rare Masked Lark and over 52 raptor species (eagle, buzzard, vulture). A special treat is the rare Lammergeyer Vulture. The area is especially good for butterfly viewing with a wide variety of species. There is one lodge in the park.

Nearby is Losai National Reserve, opened as a single reserve in January, 1976. It covers 1,806 sq. kms. of wild, semi – desert landscape characterised by rocky hills, plains and rivers. The scenic beauty is breathtaking; game to view include elephant, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk and Grants Gazelle. It is accessed via the Isiolo/Marsabit road which passes through the reserve.