Spanning 131 square kilometres of semi-arid terrain in the remote northern reaches of Kenya’s dry country, lies the uncrowded Buffalo Springs National Reserve. Known for its consistent and fairly reliable leopard sightings, makes the reserve attractive for predator obsessed safari-goers seeking a quieter, untapped safari experience.
Located on the south banks of the seasonal Ewaso Nyiro River, the reserve’s picturesque landscape is defined by rolling savannah punctuated by proud termite mounds, scattered shrub, acacia woodlands, clumps of toothbrush trees and iconic umbrella trees.
A defining feature of this frontier landscape is the backdrop of Mount Kenya and a centuries-old volcanic structure called the Champagne Ridge.
Buffalo Springs derives its namesake from the natural springs fed by underground water, providing an oasis for a wealth of plains game unique to East Africa. The spring provides a permanent source of water for wildlife during the drier months, where it’s not uncommon to spot Grevy’s zebra, Rothschild’s giraffe and predators flocking to the shores of the crystal-clear bubbling springs.
Although considered a remote destination 355 km north of Nairobi, Buffalo Springs National Reserve is a scenic and doable six-hour drive from the capital. There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Buffalo Springs airstrip.
Buffalo Springs National Reserve is home to a plethora of wildlife, in particular unusual species of plains game native to Kenya. Commonly spotted species of wildlife within the reserve include Grevy’s zebra, Rothschild’s giraffe, oryx, reticulated giraffe, and gerenuk.
The Grevy’s zebra is listed as a threatened species but is actually found in abundance at Buffalo Springs National Reserve. Popular predator sightings include leopard, cheetah, and lion—with reliable leopard sightings within the reserve.
Elephants are drawn to the reserve because of the abundant toothbrush trees. The Nile crocodile, hippo, and buffalo are also spotted on a regular basis. There are no rhinos in the reserve.
Avid birders will delight in the 365 species of bird found throughout the reserve. Expect to see Taita falcons, great egrets, Martial eagles, vulturine guineafowl, and Egyptian vultures.
The best time to visit Buffalo Springs National Reserve is during the dry season when water sources are scarce. This is when the vegetation thins out, making it easier to spot wildlife. The dry season is typically from June to October, a period of time when wildlife congregates around available water sources.
April is when the rains replenish the landscape, making it more challenging to spot game. The reserve is open to visitors year-round.
Buffalo Springs National Reserves offers a varied safari experience. Guided game drives are a given, and visitors can expect to journey through the vast landscape in search of predator kills. Drives provide an opportunity to spot big game and learn about the history of the region.
Guided nature walks along the river, led by members of the local Samburu community, introduce visitors to medicinal properties of plants, animal tracks, and smaller eco-systems.
There are safe and secluded parts of the Ewaso Nyiro River that are ideal for swimming. Swimming provides a rare opportunity to spot aquatic life in the muddy waters.
Birding is big in Buffalo Springs National Reserve, and there are plenty of guided birding tours on offer within the reserve.
Visitors can expect an array of accommodation types within the reserve. From premium lodges to mid-range, budget and camping; the reserve caters for a wide variety of visitor. High-end lodges provide the typical amenities associated with accommodations of this standing. Safari lodge stays generally included all meals and activities and offers extra excursion such as bush breakfasts and cultural tours.
High-end lodges offer private spa treatments and plunge pools are generally situated on the banks of the river to maximise game viewing opportunities.