Kenya

Samburu & Shaba

Samburu

Samburu National Reserve lies 325 km north of Nairobi in the hot and arid fringes of the vast northern region of Kenya. The Reserve is within the lands of the colourful Samburu people, close relatives of the Maasai, and harbours a huge number of wildlife species rarely found elsewhere. These include Grevy's Zebra, the Reticulated Giraffe and the Beisa Oryx, all species found only north of the equator. The long-necked gerenuk is a graceful antelope which spends a lot of time in an upright position in search for the greenest and nicest scrub on the trees and bushes in this harsh terrain. Samburu has a very scenic landscape, and is most of the year prey to the intense equatorial sun. Luckily relief comes from the wide Ewaso Ngiro River which rises some hundreds of kilometres to the west on the foothills of the Aberdares and which vanishes beyond Samburu in the recesses of the Lorian swamp. The river is at its best in the reserve, broad and sluggish with a large population of crocodile seen on sandbanks at almost every bend. In the lower reaches permanent pools have formed which are a real paradise for the present hippo. The river is fringed with giant acacias, figs and doum palms all of which provide cooling shade to the wildlife which come to drink and cool down. Elephant roam the gaunt hills and make paths through the scrubland where occasional clusters of the vividly coloured desert rose challenge the arid surroundings. These elephant seek comfort in the shallow waters of the river and on regular base you can find herds bathing and drinking and enjoy the pleasure with them.

Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Buffalo Springs National Reserve is separated from the Samburu Reserve by the river; less hilly and less dense than its neighbour it is equally as attractive. The reserve takes its name from an oasis of clear crystal clear water at the western end of the sanctuary. In addition to the wildlife found in Samburu the Common Zebra is also an attraction often joined by his bigger cousin the Grevy Zebra, although they do not interbreed. An unexplained phenomenon is why the common zebra is not found on the north side of the river. Birdlife is also very prominently present with the Somali ostrich dominating the plains. Larger than its southern relative the Maasai ostrich, it is more easily distinguished by its indigo legs and neck. Next in size is the kori bustard who stands a metre high. His behaviour is unpredictable, at times running or crouching at the first sign of danger and at others completely fearless of humans. The male has a remarkable display inflating his neck and neck feathers until the head seems to disappear then raising his tail until it lies along his back.

Shaba National Reserve

The two reserves form together with Shaba a trio of unusual and attractive game sanctuaries which is very different from others in Kenya. Shaba has a particular place in the history of Kenya game conservation for it was in this reserve that the authoress, Joy Adamson, was murdered early in 1980, unfortunately with her book on the rehabilitation of the compliant leopard to a wild environment unfinished. The reserve derives its name from a huge cone of volcanic rock that dominates the region. This is also the proof of the intensity of the volcanic background and when you enter the park the formidable lava flow will be immediately visible. The northern boundary of Shaba is marked by the broad, meandering movement of the Ewaso Ngiro towards Chanler's Falls with as final destination Lorian Swamp. The high palms that clearly follow the course of the river are in silent contrast to the rugged and arid pieces that forms a large part of the unique landscape. Many small hills rise from the landscape and with four sources of water Shaba is better equipped than its neighbour’s. Heavy downpours during the rainy season make the already rough roads almost impassable, and in those periods only 4WD jeeps can go through the park. However this fact gives the 220 sq km reserve even more enjoyment and exclusivity for a unique vacation and that is the essence of Shaba. It is a place for the connoisseur, where the quality of the experience is greater than the amount of animals that is visible.

Recommended accommodation in and around Samburu and Shaba:

Larsens Camp, Samburu Serena Lodge, Samburu Sopa Lodge, Ashnil Samburu Camp and  Elephant Bedroom

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