Lion Research Safari

Lion conservation recently became an issue of international concern when statistics revealed that lion numbers in Africa have plummeted to between 16,000 and 45,000. The lion population has declined by 30%-50% in just over the past two decades, a reduction largely due to habitat loss and conflict with humans. The lions in the Samburu / Buffalo Springs / Shaba ecosystem of Kenya are in an extremely vulnerable situation as they live in or adjacent to areas inhabited by nomadic people. Lions and their predatory behaviour have caused great resentment among the increasing rural pastoralist populations, and this has led to increased persecution of lions - lions continue to be shot, poisoned and speared.

This unique safari will provide you with an authentic and close-up insight into lion research in some of Kenya's most stunning areas. Spend 4 days with lion expert Shivani Bhalla with 4 nights at Sasaab Camp and 3 nights at Porini Lion Camp in the famous Maasai Mara in an exclusive conservancy with several resident prides of lion.

You will have the opportunity to be involved in this crucial research and 5% of the total safari cost will be donated to the Ewaso lions project (

Your time will typically include early morning and evening game drives when the lions are most active, participating in monitoring and recording and can also include the following:

  • Participate in Ewaso Lions tree project and Wildlife Cinema in West Gate. This involves visiting schools and also manyattas (Samburu homesteads) at night to show them wildlife films.
  • Carnivore 'call-ins' at night playing a recorded carnivore call and using speakers to call in carnivores as a method to estimate their density.
  • Engage with the community and complete questionnaires on conflict and perceptions of predators.
  • Track radio-collared lions.
  • Go on patrol with the Ewaso Lions scouts and help record data on predators and identify spoor tracks.
  • Help record data in the core Conservation Area
  • Investigate any conflict in the area, e.g. donkey killed by lion, etc...

About Shivani Bhalla: A Kenyan national working on her PhD through Oxford University, which focuses on the lions of the Ewaso ecosystem in Northern Kenya. Through this project, she is continuing and complementing the research she did for her Masters' degree (MSc) in 2003. She currently works in Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves and the West Gate Community Conservancy with the objective to investigate factors influencing the lion population in the Ewaso ecosystem in Northern Kenya. The area of study includes the 3 National Reserves (Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba) and the West Gate Community Conservancy. This research will formulate strategies for the long-term conservation of lions by understanding the issues and threats facing their population, their movements in the wild and the extent of human-lion conflict. There is a huge knowledge gap in this area and it's her intention to address this.


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Duration: 8 nights / 9 days

Day 1

Depart from Wilson Airport for your scheduled flight to Samburu National Reserve. The Sasaab Camp's guide in a 4x4 vehicle will meet you at the Samburu airstrip and transfer you to the camp. Settle into your spacious room overlooking the river and then meet the lion expert Shivani Bhalla, over lunch, where she'll brief you on the lions in the area, the research and opportunities to participate over the next few days. Sasaab is located above the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, in the arid heart of Samburu land, a tranquil setting that offers views towards the Laikipia plateau and Mount Kenya. After lunch, relax in your room and then take an afternoon game drive to track the resident 'community lions' returning for dinner. Overnight Sasaab Camp.

Day 2

Full day with guided bush walks, lion tracking and visits to the local community to monitor lion predation of livestock and other such issues. All meals at the camp. Overnight Sasaab Camp.


Day 3

After an early morning cup of coffee/tea depart for an early morning game drive.  Later on, return to the camp for breakfast.  Mid morning is at Leisure. The Ewaso Nyiro River (Brown river in the local language) winds through mature stands of Newtonia and Sycamore Fig trees, Acacia and Doum Palms, one of the few branching palms to be found anywhere in the world.  Enjoy your lunch at the camp.  Afternoon game drive will give you another opportunity to explore the wilderness of the reserve returning for dinner. Overnight Sasaab Camp.

Day 4

Spend the day in the Samburu National Reserve with picnic lunch tracking lions and viewing the numerous wildlife drawn to the river, many of which are unique to this part of Kenya including the endangered Grevy's Zebra. All meals at the camp. Overnight Sasaab camp.

Day 5

After breakfast transfer to the Samburu airstrip for schedule flight to the Masai Mara National Reserve. You will be met at the Ol Kiombo airstrip by the camp's guide in a 4x4 vehicle and take game drive to Porini Lion Camp, located in the Olare Orok Conservancy, famous for its numerous lion prides. Afternoon game drives in 4x4 vehicle within the game rich Mara ecosystem followed by a sundowner before dinner and overnight at Porini Lion Camp.

Day 6

Full day in the Masai Mara with picnic lunch. All meals at the camp. Overnight Porini Lion Camp.

Day 7

*Optional Balloon Safari and Champagne Breakfast.

After an early breakfast, go on a morning walk in the Conservancy escorted by Maasai warriors and a guide, returning to the camp later in the morning. In the afternoon you will go on a game drive to explore more of the Olare Orok Conservancy on the lookout not only for the Lion but also elephants, buffalo, giraffe and other big cats. Enjoy a night game drive after dinner in search of the nocturnal animals including Lion and the elusive Leopards which are resident in the expansive Olare Orok Conservancy. Overnight Porini Lion Camp.

Day 8

One last early morning game drive or guided bush walk, before returning to the camp for breakfast. Check out for transfer to the Ol Kiombo airstrip where you will board a scheduled flight departing at 11 a.m. to arrive at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, at around 12.15 pm. There are connections to Mombasa, Lamu or Zanzibar where you may opt for a few days of relaxation at the beach.


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20-Dec-1302-Jan-146850 USD6415 USD930 USD620 USD
03-Jan-1431-Mar-146025 USD5585 USD885 USD520 USD
01-Apr-1415-Apr-145555 USD5115 USD795 USD400 USD
01-Jun-1430-Jun-145625 USD5185 USD885 USD400 USD
01-Jul-1430-Sep-146780 USD6340 USD930 USD595 USD
01-Oct-1431-Oct-146615 USD6175 USD930 USD540 USD
01-Nov-1415-Nov-145555 USD5115 USD795 USD400 USD
01-Dec-1419-Dec-145665 USD5225 USD885 USD400 USD

Prices are subject to currency fluctuations and may change.

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