A Guide To Shaba National Reserve Kenya
Shaba National Reserve Kenya is the home of Joy Adamson’s monument. There is one lodge in Shaba with 178 beds and one tented lodge with 34. The major attractions are the scenic landscape and riverine forest and 17 springs where animal congregate during the dry season. Animals in the reserve include the reticulated giraffe, Somalia ostrich, Grevy’s zebra and Joy Adamson’s monument.
The park lies to the east of the Samburu National Park and covers an area of 130 square kilometres north of the Ewaso Ng’iro River.
Facts About Shaba National Park
Altitude: 700 – 1,500 meters above sea level.
Area: 239 sq km.
Location: Eastern Province.
Distance from Nairobi: 320 km north-east of Nairobi.
Gazetted: The reserve was established in 1948 and later gazetted in 1974
Climate: the reserve lies in a hot and dry semi-arid area.
Traditionally the long rains fall March/April and the short rains October/November.
Vegetation: varies between acacia woodland, bushland and scrubland and narrow riverine woodlands.
Wildlife: includes: elephant, cheetah, reticulated giraffe, oryx, gerenuk, vervet monkey, zebra, buffalo, hippo and crocodile.
Birds: over 350 species have been recorded.
Roads: 4WD is recommended for the journey to and within the reserve although 2WD vehicles with good ground clearance can be used outside the rainy seasons.
Shaba National Reserve Kenya – Remote wilderness
Together with the Samburu and Buffalo Springs, Shaba National Reserve Kenya is located in Kenya‘s Northern Frontier Province, a rugged and little visited region. Driving to the park you will often see Samburu herding cattle through the thorn bush or watering camels in the river. The Ewaso Ng’iro River is life giving for the area. The permanent water ensures that an abundance of wildlife exists in the reserve at all times.
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Where to Stay in Shaba National Reserve
There are two lodges inside the reserve and several more accommodation options bordering Shaba or in the neighbouring Samburu and Buffalo Springs reserves.
Sarova Shaba Lodge is picturesquely situated on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, and features a deck overlooking a favourite Crocodile basking area, where these giant reptiles are fed every night. The Lodge has 85 modern, chalet-style rooms and suites, all with private balconies and views over the river. The Lodge offers a pool and a full range of activities, including camel-back safaris, bush breakfasts and dinners under the stars.
Joy’s Camp stands on the spot where the legendary conservationist Joy Adamson set up camp more than 40 years ago. The 10 under-canvas suites are decorated with handmade local décor to provide an authentic ambiance, and provide the last word in luxury. Each suite measures 100m² and has an en-suite bedroom, sitting area, and private terrace. There is also a pool and wellness area, and the camp offers all the activities you could wish for, including night game drives.
What To See At Shaba National Reserve Kenya
The main attractions are reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, the Somali ostrich and the gerenuk. Elephant are plentiful and black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo and hyena can all be seen. Dik diks are always dashing across the red roads whilst vervet monkeys scamper about under the trees.
What To Do At Shaba National Reserve Kenya
- Bird Watching- For such a relatively small area the bird life is strikingly numerous and colourful. Perhaps the most impressive are the immense flocks of helmeted and vulturine guinea fowl which make their way each afternoon to the river bank to drink. Large numbers of marabou storks patrol the skies whist you may also see thousands of sandgrouse and doves.
- Game Drives– Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to go on a game drive. In the cool of the early morning or late afternoon, you have the best chance of coming across predators on the move. Most guests spend the hot midday hours relaxing around the pool, but if you would prefer to spend every last minute game watching you can ask your lodge to arrange an all-day drive and pack you a picnic lunch to enjoy in the bush.
- Escorted Walks- Pulling on some comfortable walking shoes and setting off to walk in the wilderness is the best way of seeing the smaller creatures and learning about the interesting indigenous plants. You will be accompanied by an armed Samburu guide (for your protection) who has an intimate knowledge of the reserve. Here you can learn all about the many plants used in traditional medicines, sample the “toothbrush” tree and treble your knowledge of the African wilderness.
- Bush Breakfasts, Dinners and Sundowners- Both the lodges in Shaba National Park know just how magical it is for guests to experience the ambiance of dining in the bush. You can enjoy a proper cooked bush breakfast, dinner or evening sundowners in amazingly attractive locations overlooking the river. Refreshing cocktail in hand, this is the all-time best way to watch an African sun-set!
- Camel-back Safaris- Give your legs a rest and set off into the reserve on a guided camel-back safari as a thrilling alternative to the regular game drive.
- Cultural Visits to the Samburu Villages- Take the time to learn about the traditions and cultures of your local hosts, as you visit one of the nearby Samburu villages. You will be treated to local dancing and song, and see just how important tourism is in the lives of the community. You will also have the opportunity to buy some of their unique crafts.
- Relaxation at the Lodge- Don’t underestimate the lure of relaxation at your lodge! Both of Shaba’s lodges offer guests the perfect environment to while away the hot midday hours of the day around the pool or on your private balcony. If you wish, enjoy a marvellously relaxing massage at the spa.
How to get to Shaba National Reserve
By road: Shaba lies approximately 300km north of Nairobi and is easily accessed by road in about 6 hours. Shaba are topped with gritty volcanic sand and a 4WD is usually required.
By air: Flying time is about 50-70min (depending on the aircraft). It is also possible to charter a flight between Shaba and any of the other amazing Kenyan national parks and reserves you may have on your wish-list.
A Map to Shaba National Reserve
Shaba National Reserve Contacts
Attraction Type: Wildlife
Category: Game Reserve
City / Town: Isiolo
Telephone: 254 20 600 0800, 254 20 600 2345, 254 20 237 9407
Entrance Fee: Yes