Overview – Shaba NR

Anthony Ham
Expert
By Anthony Ham

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Kenya.

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Anthony is the author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Shaba, Samburu and Buffalo are a trio of ecologically similar, unfenced reserves that share common borders. Despite being the largest of the three reserves, there is less wildlife in Shaba, and most tours based in the reserve conduct game drives in Buffalo Springs. Tourist traffic is very low, but the scenery is magnificent.

Best Time to Go June to September and January to February
High Season December to March and July to October (Busy)
Size 239km² / 92mi²
Altitude 731-1,313m / 2,398-4,308ft

Pros & Cons

  • Little visited reserve with great wilderness appeal
  • Easy access to Buffalo Springs for great wildlife viewing
  • Beautiful and arid scenery
  • Excellent birding with many dry-country specials
  • Only two lodges
  • Very hot and dry

Shaba NR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Shaba is not a great wildlife destination. Although connected to Samburu, which offers excellent wildlife viewing, animal densities are low in Shaba. Four of the Big Five can be encountered, but rhinos are absent. The park is home to some of Kenya’s dry country specials including beisa oryx, lesser kudu, reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra and gerenuk. The Ewaso Nyiro River is a good place to look for big Nile crocodiles.

Scenery

Much of Shaba’s charm lies in the splendor of its topography, which includes deep gorges and waterfalls on the scenic Uaso Nyiro River. Open grasslands dotted with springs and swamps give way to rocky hills and dusty plains strewn with lava boulders. Massive Shaba Hill towers over this appealing landscape.

Weather & Climate

You’ll appreciate the sunshine during the Dry season (June to September). But the heat does tend to build to uncomfortable levels at the close of the period, when the rains are due. The Wet season (October to May) is really three seasons in one: starting with the ‘short rains’, then a brief dry spell, then the ‘long rains’ (mostly showers) that start in March.

Best Time to Visit

The Dry season (June to September) and the short dry patch that interrupts the Wet season (October to May) is a good time to check out the local animals. Another plus is that the absence of water means a greatly reduced risk of malaria. You can still visit the park in the wetter months, but heavy rain can potentially derail your safari plans.

Want to Visit Shaba NR?

Shaba NR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
One of Northern Kenya’s desert gems
4/5

There’s a good reason why Joy Adamson set up her leopard research operations in Shaba National Reserve and these days many people return to relive those famous experiences (albeit on a markedly more grandiose scale these days) at the...

Latest User Review
Christopher J May  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Apr 4, 2016
5/5

As with all of my experiences, it's amazing just how different all of these areas can be in the same country. Though Shaba was only a short drive from the other locations we stayed at, there were different animals, scenes and climates there...

Full Review