Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Buffalo Spring National Reserve is a protected area in the Isiolo County in northern Kenya. The reserve was established in 1948 as part of the Samburu – Isiolo Game Reserve, and the present boundaries were established in 1985. The reserve is managed by Isiolo County Council. The national reserve is located in the southern part of Samburu National Reserve lies on the opposite side of River Ewaso Nyiro. The river was named after the clear Oasis water found at the western end of the reserve. Buffalo springs national reserve occupies an area of 131 square kilometers (51 sq. mi), and is at an altitude of between 850 metres (2,790 ft.) and 1,230 metres (4,040 ft.) above sea level. It is a gently rolling lowland plain of old lava flows and volcanic soils of olivine basalt. The main feature is the Champagne Ride in the southeast, an ancient lava-terrace. The climate is hot, dry and semi-arid.


This reserve is found 301 kilometers from Nairobi and it’s heavenly gifted with unique flora species, flora species in the reserve are mostly determined by Ewaso Nyiro River. These include a narrow band of riverine forests along the Ewaso Ngiro, Doum Palm, Acacia elatior, scattered grass and shrubs, alkaline grasslands with occasional swamps and seeping, desert rose with pink blooms and Salvadora persica.

The salvadora persica also called the toothbrush tree or mustard tree, locally this tree is also referred to as Mswaki in Swahili and Sokotu in Samburu language. This tree is small tree or shrub with a crooked trunk with height of 6-7 meters, for over a century, this tree has been used as natural toothbrush and the World Health Organization for its Oral Hygiene use mentioned its fibrous branches.


Buffalo springs national game reserve habits a variety of animals, which are one of the great tourist attractions of the reserve, because of the large concentration of animals this reserve has become to be ranked among the best destinations for Kenya Wildlife safaris. Animals in Buffalo springs game reserve inhabit in the wooded areas around the riverbanks of Ewaso Nyiro River, riverine forests and savannah grasslands. Some of the permanent residents in Buffalo springs national game reserve include buffaloes, impalas, common Burchell’s zebra, wild dogs, waterbucks, hyenas, elephants, cheetahs, greater and lesser kudus, leopards, lions, elands, giraffes, grant’s gazelles, reticulated giraffes, Beisa onyxes’, gerenuk antelopes, Grevy’s zebras and many more. A Kenya tour to Buffalo springs game reserve presents an opportunity for enjoy sights of these animals.

The reserve is also a habitat to over 390 species of birds with notable bird species such as Acacia tit, Ashy cisticola, African swifts, Somali ostrich which is larger than the common ostrich and characterized of distinctive indigo legs and blue neck and the striking cobalt-blue breasted vulturine guinea fowls among others.

What to do in Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Though the Buffalo springs national reserve is among the least visited reserves in the country, it has a wide range of activities to offer to the guests. The only main consideration is that all visits to the reserve should always be briefed and combined with other nearby national reserves like Samburu national reserve. Below are the key activities that can be done in Buffalo springs national reserve.


Game viewing

The reserve is one of the best wildlife-viewing destination, untapped and unique reserve. Game drives are offered in the morning, afternoon and evening, as you drive in the dry county landscape of Buffalo springs national reserve you will have a memorable Kenya wildlife safari. Animals to spot include large herds of elephants, lions, burchell’s zebras, Grevy’s zebras, wild dogs, waterbucks, impalas, hyenas, elephants, cheetahs, greater and lesser kudus, leopards, lions, elands, giraffes, grant’s gazelles, reticulated giraffes, Beisa oryxes, gerenuk antelopes and many more.

Animals in Buffaloes springs national park are best spotted around the river banks of Ewaso Ngiro River, large herds of elephants are spotted bathing in the muddy waters of the river, pride of lions as they wait to attack their prey and Nile crocodiles are some of the animals you are to encounter at the river banks.

Game drives in buffalo spring national reserve can be done throughout the year though the best game viewing experience is got in the dry season from June to October.


Bird Watching

Buffalo springs national game reserve is a perfect Kenya birding safaris destination, this reserve is a habitat to a huge concentration of birds with over 390 bird species including Northeast African dry-country bird species. Bird watching in Buffalo springs national game reserve offers a chance for birders to spot many bird species such as African palm swift, Ashy cisticola, Bare-eyed thrush, Black-bellied sunbird, Black-capped social weaver, Bristle-crowned starling, Brown-tailed rock chat among others. Buffalo springs national game reserve is a top-notch destination for Kenya birding safari so as a birder you should not missing visiting this amazing reserve.


Cultural Encounters to Samburu Villages

Explore the culture and traditions of the Samburu as the reserve shares its borders with the residential communities of the Samburu local people. The Samburu people are very friendly and welcoming people and visiting them offers an opportunity to learn more about their lives and appreciate their culture as they share their beliefs, artwork to craft making, cattle herding techniques and so much more. Families with children can spend time with these tribal men and women learning how to throw spears, milk goats and make jewellery.

The Samburu people’s lives are an integral part of the reserve and cultural tours of Kenyan village’s is the finest way to gain an insight and appreciation for ancient ways of life.


Walking Safaris

This activity is more of a leisure adventure offering thrilling walk through numerous corners of the reserve. On this safari you’re escorted by a guide, this experience helps to test your physical ability, as you walk on various trails running through the reserve. You are likely to encounter various animals such as lions, Nile crocodiles most especially on the riverbanks of Ewaso Nyiro River and many birds such as African palm swift, Ashy cisticola, Bare-eyed thrush, Black-bellied sunbird, Black-capped social weaver, Bristle-crowned starling, Brown-tailed rock chat, Chestnut weaver and many more.

WhEN TO VISIT Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Buffalo Springs National Reserve offers an authentic setting for your adventure-filled tour with Hotana Safaris. The reserve can be visited any time of year though the long dry season from July through October is the best time of year to visit Buffalo Springs National Reserve as compared to the rainy season. The reason for this is that the watering holes that are sustained by the rains dry up, giving the animals few options for hydration and food. During these months, the animals are found gathered around permanent springs, as well as along the Ewaso Nyiro River. Therefore, fauna are easier to locate, and the minimal vegetation makes wildlife observation easier as well. Accommodation prices are increased to normal levels from late December through the short dry season of January and February

Late March begins the long rainy season that lasts until late May through parts of June.  Vegetation erupts from parched earth that is awakened with the rains, and the heart-touching events such as the birth of a herbivore will give you a lifetime of memories. Navigating the terrain can be challenging, as roads and trails may be muddy and slippery. As with the short rainy seasons, room costs are reduced during this time of year while other mentioned prices remain the same year-round.

The cool seasons are June to August with January and February being the hottest. On the other hand, birders prefer to visit the reserve during the rainy season when the birds are nesting.

HOW TO GET To Buffalo Springs National Reserve

The reserve is found 301 kilometers from Nairobi, it can accessed by both road and Air

By Road, using the A2 route and 358 kilometers via Nairobi-Meru route. The drive is long but much scenic and rewarding passing through small and big towns. One has great picture time at equator after having a tea stop at Nanyuki town, the road network has very good well marram road which leads direct to the main gate of Buffalo springs national reserve.

One can also access the reserve by the road, which is more scenic, and adventurous but taking 6 to 7 hours’ drive.

By Air, one can decide to fly to the reserve with daily flights that depart Wilson airport twice a day, or one can decide to use a charter flight. Flying time is around 1 hour and 20 minutes. Safarilink and Air Kenya are two domestic airlines that provide direct flights.