Shaba National Reserve, Kenya

As one approaches Shaba National Reserve from Nairobi, the landscape changes from lush green forests to arid savanna. Here, iconic acacia trees are plentiful and provide sustenance for giraffes, elephants and a long-necked gazelle called the gerenuk. An array of giant euphorbias—the eastern hemisphere’s answer to the cactus—also dot the landscape.

This rugged landscape has several species that can only be found in the drier northern regions, such as reticulated giraffes, oryxes, and Somali ostriches. Shaba is also noted for viewing the Big Five—elephants, Cape buffalo, lions, leopards and rhinoceros—and for cheetahs. On your game drives, keep an eye out for small herds of fine-striped Grevy’s zebras—the most endangered of the three zebra species. You may spot them grazing in the sun or cooling off with refreshing dust baths.

The Ewaso Ng’iro River sustains the many animals who make Shaba their home. Elephants and vervet monkeys can often be found on its shady banks as crocodiles patrol the waters. Explore the river by kayak or canoe for a different view of wildlife!

While you’re in the area, you will also want to visit nearby Samburu National Reserve for its classical mix of savanna and riverine forest.

Shaba is unique for its stark beauty and desert-adapted animals. It will give you a deep appreciation for Kenya’s ecological diversity and make you curious to see more.

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