Shaba National Reserve | Awesome Kenya African Safaris

Shaba National Reserve | Awesome Kenya African Safaris
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Shaba National Reserve, Kenya, African Safaris

Shaba National Reserve is a tiny gem of a reserve in the north of Kenya. It lies in an area of harsh, dry terrain that’s part of the same ecosystem as Samburu and Buffalo Springs. Shaba, however, is virtually cut off to all but those with access to a 4 wheel drive vehicle or an aircraft, so it’s mercifully free from traffic.


  • Shaba has surprisingly good game and wonderful birdlife, drawn by small permanent springs in the south.There are regular sightings of elephant and lion in Shaba and you have a good chance of seeing Kenya’s ‘northern five’; oryx, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra and lesser kudu. Shaba is small at only a couple of hundred square kilometres, but your eye is constantly drawn to the grand-scale views of the surrounding hills. Despite its diminutive size Shaba punches well above its weight and is dominated by a sense of scale that most people simply don’t get to experience.
  • On a clear day, Ol Olokwe is visible to the north west. This sacred mountain of the latter-day explorer stands at the southern end of the Matthews Range, an icon of adventure, gateway to Kenya’s wild Northern Frontier District – the NFD. Virtually everything about Shaba feels hard and unyielding, the hills blister with blood red volcanic extrusions and the gritty volcanic sand is scattered with scrubby acacia and commiphora trees.
  • Almost everything here has thorns. In the center of the Shaba the Ewaso N’giro River provides welcome contrast, having tumbled out of Laikipia on its way from the foothills of Mt Kenya. It flows thick and brown under the granite hills, its banks lined with large mature fig trees and dense stands of palms trees. Massive crocs bask on sand banks and game of all kinds is drawn to the rich riparian woodland.

When to Visit Shaba National Reserve, Kenya Safaris, Africa

For that ideal Kenyan safari to the northern side of Kenya, it is best to visit Shaba National Reserve during the prime months of the year. It should be noted that Shaba National Reserve has all year-round climate that is ideal for game drives but some months are always better than others.

Quick Fingertip Facts:

  • Best time to go on Kenyan safaris: January- March, June- August
  • High season: July- October, October- April- these months are the long dry making it easy to spot animals in the reduced vegetation and water sources.  
  • Low season: March- June- this is the long rainy season and there’re reduced number of visitors, reduced accommodation rates and other charges.
  • Best weather: June-August- the coolest months of the year
  • Worst weather to go on Kenyan safaris- March- June

January- March:


  • Due to reduced vegetation and water sources, it is easy to locate animals
  • Days remain sunny with no prospects of rains


  • The heat of the day reduces the hours one can be out looking for animals.

May- June:


  • With the increased rains, there is new vegetation making it pleasant to the eyes.
  • New animals are born into the wild which can be a sight to behold
  • Due to decreased number of visitors, there is reduced accommodation rates


  • The roads become inaccessible due to the rains
  • Increased vegetative cover and water sources make spotting the animals almost impossible.

July- October:


  • With the green vegetative cover, it is easy to see the wildebeest migration


  • There is increase in the number of visitors, which translates to increased accommodation charges

November- December:


  • Short rains bring relief to the dry land
  • There is reduced number of visitors and accommodation rates


  • Slightly dispersed animals
  • Increased local visitors due to the December holidays.

Where to stay at Shaba National Reserve, Kenya Safaris, Africa

Joy’s Camp, Shaba Game Reserve | Kenya Safari

Joy's Camp Location: Shaba National Reserve, Kenya Safari An elegant oasis in the spectacular arid landscapes of Samburu; Joy’s Camp ...
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Sarova Shaba, Shaba Game Reserve | Kenya Safari

Sarova Shaba Location: Shaba Game reserve, Kenya Safari Sarova Shaba Game Lodge is a luxury lodge accommodation built near a natural ...
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Kenyan safaris across the plains of the savannah requires a dedicated place of rest. To ensure that you are well catered for and that we meet your needs, we recommend any of the following places within Shaba National Reserve.

  • Shaba National Reserve is home to Joys Camp for the ultimate home away from home touch. Overlooking the natural spring that is an attraction to wildlife, you are bound to have the best and quality time in your luxury accommodation here. Surrounded by stone verandahs, the camp immerses you in nature every moment of the day.
  • Sarova Shaba is another luxury accommodation option to choose from. Situated on a large private property with gardens by the Ewaso Nyiro River, you are guaranteed of outstanding African safaris. With en-suite bathrooms, professional staff, delicious cuisines and ample time with nature, nothing beats the luxury accommodation at Shaba National Reserve. There are other wonderful places to stay within Shaba National Reserve, each with its great qualities aimed at making your Kenyan safaris feel exclusive and one with nature.

Why go to Shaba National Reserve, Kenya Safaris, Africa

The history behind Shaba National Reserve is immense and interesting, a reason why you should ready yourself for a wonderful Kenyan safari. Shaba has a particular place in the history of Kenya game conservation for it was in this reserve that the authoress, Joy Adamson, was murdered early in 1980, unfortunately with her book on the rehabilitation of the compliant leopard to a wild environment unfinished.

1. Scenery

The reserve derives its name from a huge cone of volcanic rock that dominates the region. This is also the proof of the intensity of the volcanic background and when you enter the park the formidable lava flow will be immediately visible.

2. Ewaso Ng’iro River (Riverine Scenery) and Lorian Swamp

The northern boundary of Shaba is marked by the broad, meandering movement of the Ewaso Ngiro towards Chanler’s Falls with its destination being Lorian Swamp. The high palms that clearly follow the course of the river are in silent contrast to the rugged and arid pieces that forms a large part of the unique landscape.

3. High Concentration of Wildlife

Many small hills rise from the landscape and with four sources of water Shaba is better equipped than its neighbor’s. Heavy downpours during the rainy season make the already rough roads almost impassable, and in those periods, only 4WD jeeps can go through the park. However, this fact gives the 220-square kilometer reserve even more enjoyment and exclusivity for a unique vacation and that is the essence of Shaba. It is a place for the connoisseur, where the quality of the experience is greater than the number of animals that is visible.

There is a wide variety of animal species not found south of the equator, including the majestic Beisa oryx, the reticulated giraffe, the thin-striped Grevy’s zebra and the gerenuk antelope which stands on its hind legs to feed. Elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard can also all be seen along the river, and the 400 plus species of birds are positively spectacular.

What to do at Shaba National Reserve, Kenya Safaris, Africa

Shaba National Reserve landscape made famous by some of the most noteworthy films ever made about Africa. Shaba National Reserve is the setting of the films “Born Free” and “Out of Africa”. African safaris within this reserve is bound to help you create memorable moments for a life time.

  • Wildlife spotting: Shaba’s landscape and vegetation is lusher, making it more difficult to spot wildlife, but it is indeed home to a wide variety of game, particularly special are the number of endangered species: Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, gerenuks and Somali ostrich. Elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, oryx, Grant’s gazelle, dik dik and waterbuck can also be found in here.
  • Bird watching: The river forest of Shaba attracts many species of bird. The near-threatened and little-known Williams’s Lark is found in the reserve, while it has not been spotted in any other protected area. Additionally, the endangered lesser kestrel, whose migration route passes through the reserve, can be spotted by diligent bird-watchers.
  • Guests visiting this unique reserve can wholly enjoy it through a range of activities that are designed to bring one closer to nature. Regular game drives are offered from any of the lodges, while guided bush walks make for an energetic alternative. Breakfasts can be served in the bush, away from the lodge, while sundowners are traditionally taken out in the open, halfway through evening game drive.


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