KENYA, SAMBURU, BUFFALO SPRINGS & SHABA NATIONAL RESERVES
In depth guide to the seasons, animals, birds and wildlife habitats of the African safari region of Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba in Kenya.

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Buffalo Herd at Waterhole.  Pic: David Anderson.
When you see a camel train walking single file along a dry riverbed, you realise you are in a pretty parched area. The three National Reserves of Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba are at the beginning of the dry north where camels become commonplace.

However, it is not a completely parched area as it is watered by the Uaso Nyiro River or 'River of Brown Water' in Samburu. This is an essential and sometimes erratic water source for all the inhabitants, including a considerable amount of wildlife in the reserves and Samburu cattle and goats.

Out of the north Kenyan tribes of Samburu, Rendille, Turkana and Borana, the Samburu dominate this area. To the uninformed eye they could be confused with the Maasai - for they are closely related and wear similar bright clothing and jewellery and have the same cultural beliefs. They continue their nomadic pastoralist lifestyle as they have done for hundreds of years.

The scrub desert, desiccated savannah and small hills of this region create overriding colours of muted greens, dusty creams, sand yellow, earthen ochre and every shade of brown. Perfect camouflage colours for the many animals that inhabit these parks.

ANIMALS & BIRDS

The reserves are relatively small and animals are easy to find, with a number of weird and wonderful species endemic to this area. Notably the gerenuk - also known as the 'giraffe necked antelope' because of its ridiculously stretched neck adapted for browsing high into the bushes. Another local inhabitant is the Grevy's zebra, which resembles an ass with wide stripes that don't quite go all the way under the belly. Reticulated giraffes are different from their southern cousins in their perfectly arranged pattern. A very common dwarf antelope in these parts is the tiny dik dik, who is devoted to its mate for its entire lifetime.


Many other species exist in these reserves and large crocs and hippos inhabit the river. Leopard, lion, cheetah and hyena are found here and an unusual treat is that leopards are commonly seen in daylight.

Birds are numerous and 365 species have been recorded in Buffalo Springs reserve.

Gerunuk. Pic: David Anderson

SEASONS

Temperatures reach 104°F (40°C) in the day with a low of 68°F (20°C) at night
Rainy Season: It may rain anytime during the hot months of April to June, then again in November and December. November is usually the wettest month.
Dry Season: January through to March are very hot and dry, and again from July to October. July is normally the driest month.

SAMBURU-SHABA-BUFFALO SPRINGS SPECIALITIES

· Gerenuk 'giraffe necked' antelope
· Reticulated giraffe
· Grevy's zebra
· Riverside lodges
· Leopards in daylight
· Samburu people

FACTS

The altitude of this area is between 2,500-4,000 feet (762-1,219 metres)
This is a malarial area

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