| Samburu and Buffalo Springs border each other, separated by the Ewaso Ngiro River,
which is a permanent river cutting through the otherwise dry landscape. Shaba is situated
just east of these two parks, and is, like Buffalo Springs, set south of the Ewaso Ngiro.
The parks are surrounded by rocky hills, and are dominated by a dry shrubby vegetation,
broken mainly by the denser and higher riparian vegetation lining the river, where for
example doum palms can be seen.
Classic safari wildlife
The wildlife of Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs is quite good, offering fine safari
experiences during most parts of the year. The animals found include the classic safari
wildlife, such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, giraffes, antelopes and monkeys.
There is also a group of mammals that are only found in the driest parks, such as beisa
oryx, Grevy's zebra and gerenuk.
The Grevy's zebra is a highly endangered zebra species that can only be found in these
parts of Kenya. The giraffe in the area is not the Masai giraffe found in southern Kenya
and in Tanzania, but a differently marked subspecies called reticulated giraffe.
(Note: Modern research has indicated that some giraffe subspecies may in fact be separate
species. More knowledge on this is hopefully to come.)
The Ewaso Ngiro River is home to many crocodiles. Other reptiles, such as monitors,
tortoises and lizards, are also often seen. Birders may see species found only in dry
areas, for example the Somali ostrich, eastern yellow-billed hornbill and vulturine
The mammal predators are represented by lions, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyaena, black-backed
jackals, bat-eared foxes and genets. Striped hyaenas and caracals (a small cat) are
rare but sometimes observed. The African wild dog is even more uncommon, but individuals
or small packs do occasionally pass the area.
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs are as far north in the country that you will get
on most safaris. A new road through northern Kenya is being constructed, and will eventually
allow much better access to Losai National Reserve
and Marsabit National Park even further north.
It's not obvious, though, that these two parks will start seeing many visitors just
because of the road. Only going from Nairobi to the Samburu area is a bit too far for
a good safari by road itinerary.
The three national reserves themselves are smallish compared to for example Masai Mara
and most of the parks in Tanzania. The wildlife is good enough to justify a visit and
a two-night stay, if you want an itinerary that includes a variety of parks. Visiting
comes at the cost of spending much time on the roads getting there, and then getting
If you want as much time for game viewing as possible in your itinerary, or want to
reduce the amount of time you spend on the roads travelling between parks, you may choose
not to visit Samburu/Shaba/Buffalo Springs, but to focus your safari on fewer or larger
parks that offer more game driving options and a richer wildlife. You may for example
go to Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara
in Kenya, or to Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro
and Serengeti in Tanzania, thereby cutting at least one
full day on the roads from the itinerary.
During the end of the 1990's, the Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs area was haunted
by bandits that stopped and robbed tourist vehicles travelling to or from the parks.
The authorities took actions to stop the bandits, and have been successful.
Lodges and camps
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs have lodges,
camps and camping
Game Lodge has some 60 rooms lined along the Ewaso Ngiro River. All rooms have an ensuite bathroom
an a veranda facing the river. There are some family rooms, and one room with wheelchair access.
The main building has restaurant, lounge overlooking the river and bar. There is a swimming pool
and a gift shop.
More about Samburu Game Lodge
Web site: www.wildernesslodges.co.ke
Camp is a good tented camp with a central location by the river in Samburu. There are 20 furnished
safari tents along the river, all with ensuite bathroom, veranda and 240 V around the clock. The
camp has a dining tent and a bar. Game drives with KSPGA qualified guides and bird walks are offered
More about Larsens Camp
Web site: www.wildernesslodges.co.ke
Samburu Intrepids is a good tented camp by the river in the western part
of Samburu. The camp has 27 safari tents overlooking the riverbank, all with ensuite
bathroom and veranda. There is a dining area, bar, lounge, swimming pool, small
conference room, souvenir shop and e-mail service. The camp offers game drives
and visits to Samburu villages.
Web site: www.heritage-eastafrica.com
Samburu Sopa Lodge is situated on a hill a little bit north of the river
in Samburu. The lodge has 60 rooms in 30 bungalows, all rooms with ensuite bathroom
and veranda. Two rooms have wheelchair access. There is restaurant, bar, swimming
pool, conference facilities and gift shop. The activities offered are guided nature
walks (not walking safaris), bird watching and visits to Samburu villages.
Web site: www.sopalodges.com
Bedouin Camp is situated in a private concession just west of Samburu.
The camp has eight luxury safari tents furnished with safari antiques, Persian
rugs and ensuite bathrooms. The camp has a mess tent, and also serves some meals
by the nearby river. The activities offered include day and night game drives,
bush walks, fly camping, rock climbing, camel tours, rafting and visits to Samburu
Web site: www.bedouin-camp.com
Elephant Watch Camp is a kind of luxury eco-camp built for minimum impact
on nature, set by the Ewaso Ngiro River. There are six spacious and furnished
tents with outside bathrooms long-drop toilets and bucket showers. There
is a mess tent and solar power.
Web site: www.elephantwatchsafaris.com
Sasaab Camp is new tented camp along Ewaso Ngiro west of Samburu. It has
nine spacious tented rooms (100+ m2/1,000+ sq ft) with wide views, own plunge
pool and privacy. The main area, where the restaurant and pool are found, is built
on a ridge overlooking the river below. The overall style is a neat mix between
contemporary and Moroccan. The camp offers a variety of activities, including
day and night game drives, bush walks, camel riding and helicopter safaris.
Web site: www.tamimiea.com
Saruni is a new luxury lodge situated on top of a hill in a conservancy
7 km/4 mi north of Samburu. It has a contemporary style with some African or Arabian
ingredients. There are six houses (two of them family villas), a swimming pool
with wide views of the surroundings, observation points facing a water hole, a
massage and beauty treatment area, and a private airstrip. The activities offered
include day and night game drives both in Samburu and the other reserves and in
the conservancy, bush walks, rock climbing, star watching, and visiting the Samburu
Web site: www.sarunisamburu.com
Joy's Camp is a luxury tented lodge in Shaba. It has ten very spacious
tented rooms on raised platforms, all with ensuite bathroom, classy interiors
with Arabian influences, and private decks for game viewing and relaxing. There
is a dining area, lounging areas and a swimming pool. The lodge offers safari
activities such as day and night game drives, and bush walks.
Web site: www.joyscamp.com
Serena Safari Lodge has good standard and is situated by the Ewaso Ngiro
River in western Buffalo Springs, not far from the bridge to Samburu. The
lodge has restaurant, bar, library and gift shop, and is surrounded by a
garden with a swimming pool. The safari style has much canvas, wooden details
More about Samburu Serena Safari Lodge
Web site: www.serenahotels.com
Bedroom Camp is a tented camp by the river in Buffalo Springs. It has 12 tents with ensuite
bathrooms and verandas, a dining area and a lounge. The camp offers activities such as game drives,
bush walks, and visits to local villages.
Web site: www.atua-enkop.com
Buffalo Springs Simba Lodge (former Buffalo Springs Tented Lodge) is being
rebuilt/renovated. (In November 2008, the building structures are there, but the
grounds seem far from ready to receive guests.)