The well-being  of the  Samburu tribe’s livestock is critical to their own livelihood.   The ‘singing wells’ are a sacred part of daily life here and the Samburu are as much a part of the fabric of this land as the wildlife.

Each day as the morning heats up, one begins to hear the sound of cow bells echoing up from the valley.  Herders from the surrounding villages bring their cows, goats and donkeys towards a section of a dry river bed, where they have painstakingly excavated wells that supply them with much needed water throughout the dry season.  These wells are passed down from generation to generation and are fiercely protected and maintained by their respective families.

The Samburu men strip down and enter the shafts of the wells, sometimes three to four men deep and start a rhythmic singing of a song.  Each have a song that is specific to their family and in turn, their herds of livestock.

Picture the scene…hundreds of cows, goats and donkeys, lining the banks of the dry riverbed, as they wait patiently to be released by the herd boys in batches of eight to twelve animals at a time. On being released, they head down into the riverbed by passing other wells and homing in on the song being sung by their respective herders, deep within the wells.

The herders hand buckets of water up to the surface, where it gets poured into a hollowed tree trunk or similar trough from which the livestock then drink.  Quite a surreal scene to witness…the combination of hundreds of animal calls along with the various songs!  This was special to witness and something different to experience on safari.

The livestock and herders have left the valley by about five o’clock in the afternoon.  When all is quiet again, the wildlife start to emerge… it was at these very wells that we sat each evening and were rewarded with two sightings of leopard, some hyena and several herds of elephants.  The contrast in activity between domestic stock and man versus wildlife slightly later in the day, is interesting and something that is the norm in this part of Africa.