Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves

Just north of Mount Kenya in a more arid part of Kenya, the three national reserves of Samburu, Shaba, and Buffalo Springs all border each other and are often regarded as the same protected area. The area includes woodland, a large amount of bushland, and grassland home to many different African icons, such as zebra, giraffe, bush elephants, oryx, buffalo, Masai lions, leopards, cheetah, and hyena. The rivers are then home to hippos and crocodiles. There are around 400 different birds to find in the area making it a great place for birders and there are even Somali ostriches commonly found within the reserves.

The Shaba reserve is particularly good for fantastic scenery surrounding the Shaba Hill volcano and contains grassland and woodlands. The waterholes here are often visited by zebra and this particular section was the focus of the book and film Born Free and the movie Out of Africa making it a very popular tourist destination. Shaba is a bit greener than the Samburu area and doesn’t see as many giraffes or Grant’s Zebra. You can find warthogs, gazelles, kudu, oryx, and the larger prides of Masai lions, which are the stars of this section. Because of its arid nature, this is some of the best places in Kenya to see cheetah and ostrich.

The wildlife here doesn’t match the impressive nature of southern parks, such as the Masai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo protected areas but still makes a fascinating visit surrounded by beautiful scenery.

The Shaba National Reserve is located at the eastern side of the total protected area with the Samburu Reserve to the west. Buffalo Springs National Reserve is then at the south west of the area just south of the river. Popularly, all off these sections are often combined under the umbrella of the Samburu protected area and despite being different reserves, you only need to pay one entrance fee to enjoy game drives that cross the sections. Best Time to Go: June to October