Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves are set in the lands of the colourful Samburu pastoralists (Samburu means ‘butterfly’ in corrupted Masai language), and are rugged, dry wilderness featuring bubbly hot springs, rolling savannah, miles of scrub and desert and the Ewaso Nyiro (brown river), which support a diversity of wildlife including elephants, leopards, lions, and the rare Grevy’s zebra.
With the rains, the Ewaso Nyiro becomes an oasis of life. Large herds of reticulated giraffe, buffalo, and impala gather at the banks to drink. Elephant herds often wade across the river, stopping to wallow and bathe in the shallows.
The heavy traffic of game around the river banks means that lions are commonly seen hunting there.
The plains and surrounding hills are also well worth exploring and are the best place to find Grevy’s zebra and cheetah.
Large, domed termite mounds among the dry thorny shrub-lands make dens for aardvarks, warthogs, and bat-eared foxes, and lookouts for cheetahs – the latter commonly sighted in the open woodlands of Buffalo Springs. Succulent aloes, euphorbias, and desert roses grow on rocky ridges that shelter hyraxes, klipspringers, and leopards.
The Ewaso Nyiro is the lifeblood of hippos and Nile crocodiles.
Good pickings among 395 bird species, includes 47 birds of prey, Somali ostriches, vulturine guineafowls, Verreaux’s eagle owls, lilac-breasted rollers, grey-headed kingfisher.
The scarlet rump of white-headed buffalo-weavers in flight is a common sight; red-billed and Von der Decken’s hornbills are common, and sandgrouse drink at the river in the evening.
African orange-bellied parrots and the palm-nut vulture rest and feed on the doum palms, while the quick-flying Africam palm swifts are active along the river at dawn and dusk.