Shaba National Reserve

Shaba National Reserve, which lies east of the road linking Isiolo with Marsabit, form a trio of unusual and attractive game sanctuaries very different from others in Kenya. Shaba National Reserve has a particular place in the history of Kenya game conservation for it was in this reserve that the authoress, Joy Adamson, died, her trilogy of books on the rehabilitation of the compliant leopard to a wild environment remained unfinished.

Shaba was one of Joy Adamson’s greatest African loves; it was in this tranquil wilderness where she released the first hand-raised leopards Shaba took its name from the Mount Shaba (1525 meters), a volcanic mountain that became extinct around 5,000 years ago. Mount Shaba lies on the border of the reserve.

Animals commonly seen are elephants, lions, cheetahs, grevy’s zebras, giraffes, gerenuks, buffalos, oryx, grants gazelles, dikdiks and waterbucks. The river forest attracts a wide variety of birds.

The reserve takes its name from a massive cone of volcanic rock, which dominates the region, and evidence of the intensity of its upheaval is demonstrated by the formidable lava flow, which the traveler has to cross to reach the reserve and the lodge.

The reserve’s northern boundary is marked by the wide, sauntering motion of the Ewaso Ngiro on its way to Chanler’s Falls and beyond to its final destination at the Lorian Swamp; the tall doum palms which mark its course in silent contrast to the rugged and pitted tracts which make up much of the sanctuary.

Many small hills dot the landscape and with four springs, Shaba is better watered than its neighbors. Heavy downpours during the rainy months may render the already rough tracks accessible only for four-wheel drive vehicles. But this only serves to make the 220 square kilometers reserve even more of a getaway delight. And that is the essence of Shaba. It is a place for the connoisseur, where the quality of the experience exceeds the extreme concentrations of wildlife.