The astonishing scenery of the Buffalo Springs National Reserve is rarely exploited by safari tourism, which makes it the perfect place for those nature lovers who want to discover new and exciting adventures. Choosing this reserve offers you some unique opportunities, such as spotting endangered Grevy’s zebra, which is often seen here compared to other National Reserves or Parks, as well as the other members of the Special Five. Moreover, the savannah landscape and the ancient lava-terrace, next to some green oasis provide a magnificent place for all kinds of activities, ranging from wildlife photography to nature walks. This place is an off the beaten track destination, where you can get closer to Mother Nature and also take part in some cultural activities of the local people.
- +Spotting endangered Grevy’s zebra
- +Get closer to uncommon reticulated giraffe
- +Almost 400 bird species
- +Learn about the rich cultural inheritance of the place
- +Closely observe the big cats: lion, cheetah, and leopard
- +Immerse yourself in the contrasting landscape of the area
- +Game viewing
- +Exploring the ancient lava-terrace
About Buffalo Springs National Reserve
The amazing Buffalo Springs National Reserve is a fantastic place where some of the most uncommon animals can be spotted and observed. The reserve is located in Isiolo District of the Eastern Province of Kenya, and it has a surface of 131 square kilometers.
Being located next to Samburu and near to Shaba – other two famous National Reserves, the Buffalo Springs National Reserve is usually perceived as a part of a larger reserve, which includes all these three safari destinations. However, each of the areas is well-delimited and has its own characteristics.
What makes Buffalo Springs unique is the Champagne Ride, an ancient lava terrace located in the south-east, covered in grasslands. From here, you can see almost the entire reserve, which makes it a perfect place for safari drives and walks. Moreover, the area is dominated by the Mount Kilimanjaro.
Game drives and walks are definitely two of the activities you should not miss when in Buffalo Springs because they are the best options for someone who is willing to see a broad variety of wildlife. Even though cheetahs are pretty hard to see in other parts of Kenya, you will undoubtedly see some here. In fact, there are high chances of seeing a cheetah or more in action, hunting. If game drives are ideal for watching elephant herds, giraffes, gazelles and a wide number of large predators, escorted game walks are excellent for observing plenty of small creatures and plants. Usually, a Samburu guide who is armed will accompany you and offer you interesting information regarding the animals and the way the local people use plants for their needs. For example, numerous plants are used for traditional medicine. There is a type of tree called ‘toothbrush tree’, which is actually used by Samburu people to brush their teeth.
Bird watching is another activity you can do here, and which attracts a lot of bird lovers annually. The riverine forests are the best places for those who want to spots rare birds, as they come here especially at sunset to drink water.
The waters of the Ewaso Nyiro River are the ones that maintain the life of the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. Without this life-giving river, the landscape of the reserve would be desolating, and most probably, the whole area would resemble a desert. But thanks to them, the vegetation grows here, offering food for many herbivores. This also attracts a large number of predators.
But the safari activities are not the only ones which are worth a try in Buffalo Spring. As you are close to Samburu people – almost all the staff, from rangers and guides to the gates’ guards are Samburu – you should visit one of their villages, too. This way, you can take advantage of the unique opportunity of getting close to the Maasai culture, as they are closely related to this tribe and speak the same language. This area has an impressive historical and cultural importance for them, and they will be glad to share with you part of their legends, traditions, and knowledge. Furthermore, you have the chance to purchase some fantastic souvenirs from here, such as beaded jewelry and crafts.
Located circa 300 km north of Nairobi, the Buffalo Springs National Reserve is usually accessed by road. From Nairobi, you can choose the A2 highway, which passes through Thika city. You need to reach Isiolo, the capital of the county of the reserve.
You can enter the National Reserve through two gates: Isiolo Gate – also referred to as Ngare Mara Gate, and Buffalo Springs Gate, which is right before the Archer’s Post town.
Generally, you can take a bus or some matatus to Isiolo, and then, from this city, you have to reach Archer’s Post. From this small town, you can travel on foot to the reserve, as the distance is very short.
You can also access the National Reserve by air, as the Buffalo Springs Airstrips usually schedules daily flights, connecting the reserve with other tourist destinations.
When to Go & Weather
The Buffalo Springs National Reserve can be visited all year round, but most tourists enter this magical world between June and October when the humidity is low. However, you should always consider the weather climate when visiting the national reserve and try to find the best period for you, because you can enjoy different types of activities in all seasons.
Being close to the equator, the weather climate of Kenya is clearly influenced by it, being hot and dry. Generally, we can speak about two different seasons, the wet season and the dry one, even though there is no great difference between them when it comes to temperatures. The locals consider that they have a summer and a winter, but tourists usually notice slight temperatures variations between these two seasons. During the day, temperatures range from 20 to 30 Celsius degrees, while the nighttime temperature may drop to 6 Celsius degrees on high altitudes. Normally, the mornings are quite chilly, but in the noon, the temperature increases a lot. For this reason, you should be prepared with a jacket and long pants if you wish to enjoy a safari walk or drive in the Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
The most humid month in Kenya is April, whereas the driest one is July.
- Wet Season – Beginning at the end of October, the wet season lasts until May. However, it is divided into two separate rainy seasons. From October to November, it is the time for short rains while the period of the long rains is between February and May. During this season, the prices are smaller for accommodation, and there are only a few tourists in the area, but the evergreen landscapes are creating the perfect setting for wildlife photography. Moreover, the rainy seasons are also the best time for birdwatching, as many migratory birds can be spotted in the reserve around that period.
- Dry Season – The months marking the dry season are June to October. Most tourists prefer this time of the year for visiting the National Reserve, as the travelling conditions are much more comfortable. Another reason why the dry season is also the peak season is the easiness of observing wildlife. Elephant herds, cheetahs, lions, leopards, gazelles, zebras and many other animals can be seen gathered at the water sources. Furthermore, the lack of vegetation makes game viewing much easier, as the animals have fewer places to hide.
When planning your safari trip to the Buffalo Springs National Reserve, the following information on the weather climate and forecast may help you:
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At first, Buffalo Springs was part of the Samburu – Isiolo Game Reserve. This reserve was established in 1948, but after just one year, Buffalo Springs became a separate reserve.
The name of the region comes from an oasis of springs, which fills several pools with clear, fresh water. Of course, these places attract all types of animals, such as buffalos.
Nowadays, the Buffalo Springs National Reserve is under the management of the Isiolo County Council.
The landscape of the reserve encompasses scrubby grasslands which cover the famous lava terrace, and other specific savannah plants. It also features luxurious vegetation along the Ewaso Ngiro River. Even though the band of riverine forest is quite narrow, the variety of plants and trees is diverse, including Doum Palm, astonishing specimens of Acacia elatior, and Tana River Poplar. The woodlands are usually predominated by Acacia tortilis. One of the most impressive plants of the reserve is Adenium obesum, also known as the “Desert Rose” or “Impala Lily”. This one looks like a bush and has bright pink or red flowers, but it can also have the appearance of a high tree.
In this reserve, you can notice the presence of the Special Five: Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk – an antelope which eats from trees standing on its hind legs, and Somali ostrich – which is famous for its bright blue legs.
Furthermore, the Buffalo Spring National Reserve is home to four of the Big Five: elephant, buffalo, leopard, and lion. Unfortunately, rhinos don’t live here. However, the reserve’s wildlife includes 80 species of mammals, such as monkeys, baboon, dik-diks, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, greater and lesser kudu, and impalas.
The number of bird species recorded in the reserve is approximately 470, and it includes a large variety of raptors. Bird lovers come here to see the secretary bird, pygmy falcons, Verreaux’s eagle, sand grouse, Von der Decken’s hornbills, storks, martial eagles and many others.
All the decisions regarding conservation and ecology are taken by the authorities. Kenya’s government decides some of the most important rules and laws for the National Reserves, but Buffalo Spring is under the management of Isiolo County Council. At the moment, the reserve offers shelter for a large number of animals, especially herds of elephants. An interesting aspect regarding this National Reserve is that tourism has not exploited the area at its full potential. Buffalo Springs remains an isolated reserve, where only a few tourists dare to venture.
- The Buffalo Springs National Reserve is home for the Special Five: Grevy’s Zebra, Beisa Oryx, Somali Ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, and Beisa Oryx. They are special because you cannot spot them in any southern reserve or park.
- The Champagne Ride is the name of an ancient lava terrace, which contributes to the uniqueness of the reserve’s landscape.
- You will undoubtedly get in touch with Samburu people when visiting this reserve, as they work here as rangers, guides, spotters, and security guards.
- Besides the wilderness of the area, you can also visit some nearby Samburu villages, and take part in diverse cultural activities. Closely related to the Maasai tribe, the Samburu are friendly people who will eagerly share with you their fascinating history and traditions.