Shaba National Reserve

Shaba National Reserve is one of the 3 Kenyan reserves that are a popular destination for travellers, because of its magnificent landscape featured with river-side forests, scattered woodlands and dry grasslands dominated by Shaba Hill Volcano. It is also renowned for its huge number in wildlife, which can be spotted along water holes or roaming throughout the reserve. However, this peaceful reserve is famous by great works of conservationist Joy Adamson and George who are author of the bestselling book and subject of the film born free and the owners of Elsa the lioness, which was raised in Shaba national reserve. Perhaps the three reserves Shaba, Samburu and Buffalo are ecologically similar, unfenced sharing common borders. Despite that, Shaba National Reserve is the largest of the three reserves though with less wildlife but the scenery is magnificent.


Shaba National Reserve lies in the eastern province in northern Kenya in Isiolo County and was established in 1974, on an area covering 23,910 hectares. Shaba national reserve is part of the 3 bordered Kenya national reserves that is Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs national reserve that lies on either side of the northern Ewaso Ngiro river that quenches wildlife species in all the three reserves.


The reserve offers greener vegetation as compared to that in Samburu national reserve. Its landscape is characterized by the semi-desert, which attracts variety of wildlife species due to the presence of river Ewaso which enriches the soil with moisture to nurture vegetation upon which the wildlife species can be seen grazing.

Shaba national reserve is well known for its magnificent landscape than wildlife. There is also outstanding river Ewaso Nyiro that form part of the landscape in the reserve, that supply through deep gorges, sandbanks and then flows down into chandlers falls and end up draining up at Lorian Swamp. Ewaso River is the best rewarding point in the reserve for game viewing and many beautiful plants can be seen around the river. Thus offering renewed wilderness experience every time you visit one of these three Kenyan national parks.


Shaba National Reserve also sounds as a home for large prides of lions, which can be spotted under thickets of toothbrush trees during the day. Moreover, a home to rare species such as reticulated giraffe, Somali Ostrich and endangered Gravy’s Zebra. Other wildlife species to be explored in the reserve include African leopards, elephants, great kudu, gerenuk, lesser kudu, Beisa Oryx, Impala, Grant ’s gazelle, hyrax are seen in the hills, bat eared foxes, Aardvarks, Klipspringer, Masai giraffes thus making up a wonderful game experience which leaves one’s mind back on a visit.

The reserve is haven for numerous bird species and some of the species include marabou stork, vulturine guinea fowl, dove, black-capped social weaver, sand grouse, black-fenced sand grouse, and D’Arnaud’s barbet to mention a few.


The reserve has Shaba Hill; it gives rewardable view of the park’s scenic landscape as well as the species. And it’s where the reserve got its name ‘’Shaba’. The reserve sits in the splendour of its topography such as deep gorges and waterfalls on the scenic Nyiro River, open grasslands dotted with springs and swamps in rocky hills and dusty areas strewn with lava boulders.

What to do in Shaba National Reserve

Game Drive/ Viewing 

Shaba national reserve offers three different sessions to carry out game viewing in the park that is Morning game drive, afternoon and full game drive. Morning game drive is the best game viewing time, giving one a chance to view the wildlife species as they can be active this hour of the day and animals can be easily seen at this time of day while looking for food. Morning game drive is also a life time experience of watching out beautiful African sunrise in the wild thus offering you great photography chances. Full day game drives allow one to come out with real adventure of park’s scenery, rewardable views of wildlife as you get to learn on how they feed, survival instincts and afternoon game drive wildlife are difficult to be sighted as they can be seeking for shelter running away from the heart. Game drive is the best way of photographing the amazing scenery of the reserve as well as the wildlife and species of birds.


Bird Watching 

Shaba national reserve is a right safari destination for birders. The reserve rewards with sight of different unique bird species such as black-faced sand grouse, marabou stork, sand grouse, vulturine guinea fowl, D’Arnaud’s barbet, black-capped social weaver among others. The best spotting area in the reserve is semi-arid nature of the climate.


Guided Nature Walks

Walking safari in the reserve is the best way to discover the park’s scenery landscape, as well as hidden treasures of the world such as Shaba hill, which gives rewardable view of the park’s scenic landscape as well as the species, colorful flower in thickets, reptiles, amphibians, insect, reptiles, bird’s nest, important plants and guides, can lead you to more ecosystem that can be missed on game drive.


Culture Encounters

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.

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.

WhEN TO VISIT Shaba National Reserve

Shaba is all year visited safari destination though the best time is in dry season that starts from June to September and December to February when there is no any interrupts of rain. 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.


Rain season can happen in March to May and October to November making it a difficult time for game viewing but can be the best birding time since bird life can be on breeding and migratory bird species can be present. You can still visit the reserve in wetter seasons during this period, accommodations rates can be low and visitors can be few in number.

HOW TO GET To Shaba National Reserve

Shaba is situated 355km/220mi north of Nairobi. The reserve can be accessed by both road and Air. The entry gates into Shaba National reserve include Gafarsa gate, Shaba gate and Natorbe gate.

By road, the reserve is 355km north of Nairobi

There are also daily scheduled flights to the reserve. Domestic flights from Nairobi leave from Wilson Airport (WIL), 6km/4mi south of Nairobi. Scheduled flights to Samburu NR can be booked with Safarilink and Air Kenya.