Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves are among the national reserves located in a remote and poorly accessible part of Northern Kenya. The two are adjoining reserves, one is a complement of the other. Buffalo Springs is famous with wildlife viewing while Shaba Reserve is popular for its rough kopjes. Buffalo spring national reserve was established in 1948 sitting in 131 square kilometers is managed by Isiolo County council.
Buffalo Springs is located in the South of the Samburu National Reserve lying on the opposite side of the Ewaso Ngiro River. The reserve was named after the Oasis of the clear crystal water that are found in the Western end of the reserve. The reserve is found at an altitude of 850 meters to 1230 meters above seas level.
Shaba national reserve was established in 1974 covering an area of 59,100 acres of land. Its also administered by the council of Isiolo County. The reserve is located on the East of Samburu National Reserve, it’s also 70 kilometres far away from the famous Mt Kenya. The reserve is covered by rocky kopjes with natural springs and palm trees. It borders River Ewaso Ngiro on the North that cuts the boundary of the reserve. The Shaba national reserve is a semi desert area dotted with isolated hills with plenty of the springs. The reserve got its name from the Shaba hill found in the Southern part of the Reserve which was formed by a volcanic eruption.
Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves lie on the altitude of 2,145 meters above seas level bordering some relatively flat surroundings which lie on the foot of the hill. Shaba is the smallest in all the three national reserves found in Isiolo county those are Samburu national reserve, Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserve. Covered with more Acacia and Palm trees, the vegetation cover is also characterized by open woodlands and grasslands that are mixed up with Lava rocks that contain patches of grass and shrubs.
The Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves are greener than Samburu national reserve. The Masaai pastoralists which are semi-nomadic interfere with the game at these reserves as they most times come to the reserve with their livestock to look for green pastures and water for their livestock. They have also caused both Buffalo springs and Shaba national reserves to lose some land due to the encroachment of the locals as they desperately enter and stay more inside the springs around the park especially during the dry season.
For the big game, both Buffalo springs and Shaba national reserves miss the Rhinos but others are available though the most common are the Elephants and buffalos. Leopards and lions are also seen especially in Buffalo springs. Other animals found in Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves are the Oryx, Kudu, Zebras, Giraffes, hyenas and many more.
The scenery of Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves
The reserves protect the tract of semi-arid open savannah grassland that flacks the scenic view of River Ewaso Ngiro. The river inhabits contrasting Riverine forests and dry Acacia scrub that is dotted with termite moulds. The water springs are the key collection and catchment area for animals especially during the dry season when the water is scarce from the reserves.
Weather and climate of Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves
The temperatures of Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves are very high during day time while the nights are very cold. The rainy season are from late March to May while the long dry spell starts from June to October. The second rainy season starts from October to November and the short dry spell starts from December to February.
Best time to visit Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves
The Reserves receives more tourists during the dry months of June to October, at this period the big game is excellent as all animals are visible on short dry grass and water catchment areas. Wildlife watching is excellent with clear scenery views of the kopjes while birders come mostly during the rainy season when the birds are nesting.
Although the Buffalo Springs and Shaba national reserves are small in size, their game viewing experience is worth visiting it as they provide a wide range of activities to the guest. One can also combine the reserve with Samburu national reserve for covering the African big 5.