Samburu, Shaba & Buffalo Springs

Samburu, Shaba & Buffalo Springs

Where is Samburu?

In the arid North of Kenya, water means life. The waters of the great Ewaso Nyiro River draws wildlife in great numbers to its banks and creates an oasis of green in an arid area. This river rises on Mount Kenya flows north through three great northern reserves, Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba, before crossing into Somalia and eventually reaching the Indian Ocean. This is spectacular country, set against a backdrop of the mighty flat-topped, sheer cliff sided, Mount Ol Olokwe.

How big is the park?
Samburu: 165 Km²

Shaba: 240 Km²

Buffalo Springs: 131 Km²

The 3 parks are linked together and wildlife moves between them.

Bufaloe & lion sizing up

Mexican stand-off: who blinks first? sizing up

Access to the park
5 excellent lodges, the best of which is probably Joy’s Camp (Shaba), named after Joy Adamson who worked and lived here post “Born Free”.

The riverine forest is a stark contrast to the arid thorn studded plains. Samburu National Park is visited by large herds of elephants, drawn by the promise of water. In the dry season, the elephants use their tusks to dig deep into the dry river beds, unearthing precious water. These waterholes then become a focal point for other game.


The Samburu region is the best place to find several endemic northern species, including gerenuk, the reticulated giraffe, and Grevy’s zebra. The forests along the river banks are home to many birds, including local species such as the Palm Nut Vulture and the Vinaceous Dove. These forests are also home to many leopards, often seen at dusk. The sight of one of these beautiful and elusive creatures is always a rare treat. Lions are also frequently seen on the riverbanks, and cheetah can be found on the open plains. On rare occasion, packs of African hunting dogs are seen passing through the reserve.


Elephant crossing

Park note

The Ewaso Nyiro is also an important water source for the Samburu villages surrounding the reserves. The Samburu culture is a truly fascinating one, sharing a great deal of ancestral and linguistic ties to the Maasai. The Samburu are herders of camels and goats, and are often seen on the reserve boundaries bringing their animals to water.

In areas around the reserves, there are several private sanctuaries working closely with the Samburu to protect both their tribal lands and the local wildlife. These sanctuaries are open to guests and are well worth visiting for those interested in Samburu culture.

The entire Samburu region is a place of breath-taking and magical beauty, a place where the vision of a deep red sunset silhouetting the doum palms along the river as a leopard emerges to hunt brings the perfect end to a day on safari.

Hippo with oxpecker on its ear

Hippo with oxpecker on its ear; a ‘dam’ of hippos