A sleepy market town
The 'frontier' town of Maralal is the administrative headquarters of the Samburu people
The Samburu district encompasses over 20,000 sq km, stretching as far as Lake Turkana in the north. A staging post on the rough road north to the eastern shore of the lake, Maralal boasts a tiny gem of a game sanctuary actually within the township's legal boundaries.
On the cedar clad hillside above the town and in the thorn scrub lower down there is much resident game. Impala, eland, buffalo, baboon, warthog and zebra live in harmonious profusion but ever watchful for leopard and hyena.
Maralal town is 150 kms north of Nyahururu, on the northern edge of the Mount Kenya highlands.The Reserve can be accessed by air from almost anywhere in Kenya to a landing strip used by Maralal Safari Lodge.
By road travel from Nyahururu along the C77 road which is paved as far as the town of Rumuruti. Alternatively, Maralal can be reached from Isiolo along the A2, C79 and C78. Access is also possible from the south-west at Lake Baringo along the eastbound C78. There is usually one bus a day in either direction between Nyahuru and Maralal and between Isiolo and Maralal. Vehicle traffic is very scarce north of Nyahururu and west of Isiolo, that very few other options exist. Tours to Maralal can be arranged by Maralal Safari Lodge.
The only lodge in Maralal National Reserve is the 48 bed Maralal Safari Lodge. Located north of Maralal town, it is the only one in the area with adequate visitor facilities.
Seasonally elephant pass through the sanctuary descending from the forested hills which lie to the north. Much of this wildlife can be seen from the comfortable terrace of the Maralal Safari Lodge. for the only permanent water in the sanctuary is a small waterhole just a few metres away. Here, throughout the day is an almost continuous pageant of wildlife.
The rocky track which leads north to Lake Turkana passes across the moorlands (much of which is now under wheat cultivation) and forests of the Leroghi plateau, a seemingly endless area of tranquil beauty. 15 km from the township a dry weather track leads west across the plateau to the edge of the Great Rift Valley.
Here at a place called Losiolo the valley wall is sheer and the vast, almost overwhelming, panorama totally breathtaking. In all directions from Maralal is majestic scenery whose grandeur is enhanced by its consort with wildlife and by the calm dignity of the herdsmen and their herds.
The Samburu who inhabit this vast and beautiful landscape are close relatives of the Maasai to the south. Striding fearlessly across the plains the warriors in their finery are a noble and fascinating sight. The The Samburu are not "dressed-up" for tourists, they live as they always have. And because of the restricted number of visitors who can access this hidden corner of Kenya, the people are unspoiled by the tourist industry.
Want to visit a real Samburu village? Simply offer a lift to any walking Samburu, and you will be offered village hospitality. Take some ball pens and writing pads. The Samburu need those for their children's education, and in a largely non-cash society, they are much sought after.