Shaba National Reserve

Shaba National Reserve

Shaba National Reserve is found in the Northern part of Kenya and it is one of three national reserves in the same location. Others are Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs National Reserve. The reserve is located in the Eastern part of the Samburu National Reserve. The three reserves are separated by the Ewaso River which is the main source of water in the area for both wildlife and local people.

The Shaba national reserve has dramatic scenery that includes the riverine forests, the open savannah, the scattered woodland that is set against the backdrops of Shaba hills. The reserve sits in 239 square kilometers of semi-arid grassland. The reserve was named after Mount Shaba which is 1525 meters high. The mountain is the source of lava flow across the entire reserve which has created different features at the reserve.

The reserve was gazetted in 1974 by local government, its currently under the administration of Isiolo County council. Its bordered by Mt Kenya on the North and Samburu national reserve on the East. Shaba national reserve is located in the North of Nairobi situated 355 kilometers. One can reach the reserve by road through Nanyuki to Samburu then to the reserve. Alternatively, one can use flight with daily flights departing from Wilson airport in Nairobi to Samburu National Reserve where you will be picked and driven to the Shaba national reserve.

The park came in the top of the globe pictures after the rise of Elsa the lioness who was the kindest lioness in the history of predators. Raised and adopted by the Adamson family, they authored a book “born free” in 1966. It was a big loss in January 1980 when news broke out that Joy Adamson was muttered in the reserve.  She was buried inside the reserve near the grave of Elsa the lioness before the husband returning back to their home country.

Scenery of Shaba national reserve

Gifted with lies of the splendour of great topography, the reserve is smaller than Samburu national reserve but in a home of more than half of the riverine forest which contains special Acacia elatior and doum palms.  Other tree species include Umbrella thorn acacia woodlands, Commiphora, alkaline grassland, shrubs, and others. It is from this background that Shaba national reserve is regarded as greener than all the other national reserves in the region.

Attractions in Shaba National Reserve

Mammals: Though the reserve is the smallest among all the reserves in the Northern part of Kenya, the reserve is a home of large species of Mammals. The animals at the reserve are all permanent residents of the area. It has rare species like giraffes, grant’s zebra, klipspringer, hyrax, warthogs, Aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, impala, eland, gazelle, kudu, oryx, lions, leopards, Elephants, jackal, hyenas, buffalo, and others.

Birds: Bird species are plenty in Shaba national reserve with over 400 bird species recorded at the reserve. The bird species in all the three national reserves those are Shaba, Buffalo spring and Samburu national reserve are almost the same. They share all the bird species due to shared vegetation types among the reserve. The most thought bird in the reserve is Williams’ lark which is mostly found at the lava rocky parts of the reserve. Other bird species include Palearctic, Acacia tit, African palm swift, Northern Brownbul, palm-nut vulture, pygmy batis, falcon, parrots, pink-breasted lark, Seedeater, secretary bird, Somali bee-eater, ostrich, Chestnut weaver, starlings, Sunbird, Grey wren-warbler among others. 

Hills and waterfalls: The reserve is characterised by semi-desert vegetation dotted with some shrubs and forests. Shaba national reserve is dotted with some volcanic features like lava flows, hills with the most famous being Shaba Hill where the reserve got its name from.

Joy Adamson Museum: The museum was built in the memory of the late Joy Adamson the greatest conservationists in the reserve.  The guest adds a visit to the museum which is a historical place where all the details and books of Joy Adamson are kept. Books like Born free, details of Elsa the great lioness.

Shaba National Reserve
Zebras in Shaba National Reserve

Activities in Shaba National Reserve

Game viewing: Game viewing is a key activity that guests enjoy while in Shaba national reserve. Entering to the African wilderness with safari jeep enjoying a close view of the animal species like hippos, crocodiles, lions, leopards, hyenas, zebras among others. The reserve has a good record of successful game drives due its vegetation covers and the small size. One can have every great experience in the shortest period possible.

Visiting the Joy Museum: Adding some excitement to your Shaba national reserve safari, do not miss a visit to the renowned Museum Joy Adamson Museum. Well equipped with all the tools of Conservation used by the family of Adamson during their time in the Reserve.

Birding: With small size of the park, Shaba national reserve is a birding paradise and home of rare bird species Palearctic, Acacia tit, African palm swift, Northern Brownbul, palm-nut vulture, pygmy batis, falcon, parrots, pink-breasted lark, Seedeater, secretary bird, Somali bee-eater, ostrich, Chestnut weaver, starlings, Sunbird, Grey wren-warbler. Birding is good throughout the year. You will never be disappointed when your in this reserve.

Hiking: Hiking to the famous Shaba hills, it does not require more hiking experience. One will be led by the game ranger who will guide you on the cliffs of the hill. You will have a good aerial view of the reserve.   

Shaba national reserve, Buffalo Springs, and Samburu national reserve are the three small reserves adjoining each other. They are the pearl of the Northern province of Kenya.


book a trip