The Stark Beauty of Shaba National Reserve

As one approaches Kenya‘s Shaba National Reserve from Nairobi, the landscape changes from lush green forests to arid savanna. Here, iconic acacia trees are plentiful and provide food 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 terrain has several species that only live in the drier northern regions of East Africa, such as reticulated giraffes, oryxes, and Somali ostriches. Shaba is also home to 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.


a group of Grevy's zebras at Shaba National Reserve, Kenya

A herd of Grevy’s zebras gather at Shaba National Reserve, Kenya.


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 animals adapted to desert life. It will give you a deep love for Kenya’s natural diversity and make you curious to see more.

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