Samburu Reserve covers an area of 104 km2 on the northern bank of Uaso Nyiro river. it is situated in the hot and arid fringes of Kenya's vast Northern Frontier District. This National Reserve consists of three smaller reserves, namely, Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba.
The landscape is rugged and dramatic - against a backdrop of volcanic mountains, gaunt hills and withered scrub tree punctuate the sparse and dry terrain with clusters of the hardy desert rose providing the occasional flash of vivid colour. The Ewaso Nyiro river, lifeline of the area, runs along the southern boundary dividing Samburu from Buffalo Springs Reserve. Crocodile and hippo share the river with the many small herds of elephant which bathe and frolic in the muddy brown waters during the heat of the day before returning later to browse on the lush vegetation of the riverine forest. 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.
Buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and plains game can also be seen but a special feature of this Reserve are the various species of game unique to these northern parks - Beisa oryx, the long necked gerenuk, Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe and the blue shanked Somali ostrich. The reserve has a unique landscape of rounded and rugged hills and undulating plains. Hot and Dry, mainly wooded and bushy grassland, riverine forest and swamps. These 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.
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 sighted passing through the reserve. Joy Adamson, author of Born Free spent her final years in Shaba, returning a leopard to the wild. This was the subject of her final book, Queen of Shaba.
The Ewaso Nyiro is also an important water source for the Samburu villages surrounding the reserves. this reserve is home to the Samburu tribe, pastoral relatives of the Maasai. 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.
Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba are all accessible by road via Isiolo and Archers Post. Driving time from Nairobi is approximately 6 hours. There are airstrips in both Samburu and Buffalo Springs, with daily scheduled flights from Nairobi. Private charters can also use these strips. Samburu and Buffalo Springs are contiguous reserves, while the separate Shaba is a short drive to the east. The reserves have well established internal roads and tracks.En route to the reserve, crossing of the equator in Nanyuki is a big attraction with a background of Mount Kenya as you travel towards the northern hemisphere.