Buffalo Springs National Reserve Safari Guide
Buffalo Springs, Samburu and Shaba are a trio of similar, adjoining reserves. Buffalo Springs offers good wildlife viewing of most big safari animals, and is particularly renowned for its excellent leopard sightings. Samburu pastoralists live a semi-nomadic lifestyle on the peripheries of the reserve and a visit to a traditional homestead is highly recommended.
Pros & Cons
Excellent wildlife viewing
Four of the Big Five are easily found (rhino excluded)
Interesting mammal species restricted to the barren north
Beautiful and arid scenery
Excellent birding with many dry country specials
Less busy than its sister park (Samburu) north of the river
Limited accommodation options compared to Samburu
Very hot and dry
Wildlife & Animals
There are decent wildlife densities in Buffalo Springs, and most safari animals can be spotted in a couple of days. Several habituated leopards make their home in the reserve and can be relied on for great sightings. Rhinos are absent, but elephants are plentiful, and there is a good variety of antelopes, including both the greater and lesser kudu.
Several dry-country adapted mammals that don’t occur in most Kenya parks can be found here. The reticulated giraffe with its striking pattern is common. Beisa oryx is particularly well adapted to arid conditions. The gerenuk, with its elongated neck, is able to stand on its hind legs and nibble hard-to-reach leaves. Both the common Burchell's zebra and the bigger Grevy's zebra can be found alongside each other.
Together, Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves have over 390 bird species recorded. The dry, open country offers very rewarding birding opportunities. The area holds a number of northeast African dry-country species that are shared with Ethiopia and Somalia. Some of the heavyweights to look out for are Somali ostrich, vulturine guineafowl and Abyssinian ground hornbill. This area is also great to see the unusual Egyptian vulture.
Best Time to Visit
Wildlife viewing in Buffalo Springs is superior in the dry months, from June to October and December to March. If a visit coincides with the peak of the short rains (November), and in particular during the long rains (April and May), your wildlife watching experience may be slightly compromised. At those times of year animals disperse, making spotting more difficult.
June to October – Dry Season
Wildlife viewing is better when animals are congregating close to water sources
It is sunny and there is almost no rain
Malaria usually isn’t an issue in the dry season
Very dry and dusty
The sky is hazy and scenery is less beautiful
November to May – Wet Season
Scenery is beautiful and lush
April to June is low season and lower rates may apply
Although wildlife viewing is better in the dry season, there are still plenty of animals around
Best time for bird watching with migratory birds present
Road conditions can be bad in April and May
Rain can interfere with your activities in the peak rainfall months, especially April
Weather & Climate
Buffalo Springs has a hot and dry climate. Nights are usually cool. The average daytime temperature is 32°C/90°F, while the average nighttime temperature is 16°C/61°F. It is advisable to take warm clothing for early morning game drives. The annual rainfall is low, but peaks in April and November. Rain tends to fall as short, heavy showers, which are widely scattered.
Buffalo Springs is located 355km/220mi north of Nairobi. You can drive to the reserve from Nairobi or another park depending on your itinerary. There are also daily scheduled flights to airstrips in Buffalo Springs, or neighboring Samburu NR from Nairobi.
Most visitors from Europe or North America flying to Kenya choose to arrive in Nairobi, as this is the biggest transport hub. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) is located 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi. Moi International Airport (MBA) is Kenya’s second international airport, and is located 9km/6mi west of Mombasa.