Buffalo Springs National Reserve is named after the Buffalo Springs, an oasis of clear water at its western end that rises from underground streams from Mount Kenya. The reserve is actually a continuation of Samburu National Reserve on the south side of Ewaso Nyiro River and Shaba National Reserve further downstream to the east. Most publications and websites treat these three as part of the Samburu National Reserve, but they are distinct reserves, each with its own management.

The reserve spans 32,371 acres and was first established in 1948 as part of the Samburu-Isiolo Game Reserve. Later on, authorities separated it from the Samburu Game Reserve and defined its new boundaries in 1985. Isiolo County currently manages the reserve, which sits at an altitude ranging from 850 meters (2,790 feet) to 1,230 meters (4,040 feet) above sea level.

During the struggle for independence in Kenya, the Mau Mau utilized the reserve as a strategic retreat location. Many believe that General Mathenge, a prominent figure in the Mau Mau movement, traversed this reserve on his journey to Ethiopia. However, no one ever saw him again, and his ultimate destination remains unknown.

1. Do the Champagne Ride

Capture breathtaking photographs of the picturesque landscape featuring gently rolling lowland plains made up of old lava flows and volcanic soils of olivine basalt. However, the highlight of your visit should be the Champagne Ride, which takes you through an ancient lava terrace in the reserve’s southeastern part.

2. Get Yourself a Toothbrush

Explore the riverine forest and the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River with guided walks. Try to spot different tree species, such as the Tana River Poplar, Doum Palm, and Acacia Elatior. You may also encounter a Desert Rose with bright pink blooms. The shrub Salvadora persica, also known as the toothbrush tree, provides food for elephants and serves as toothbrushes for the nomadic Samburu people, who use its twigs.

3. Spot Hippos and Nile Crocodiles

Buffalo Springs National Reserve is a sanctuary for various wildlife species, including common zebras, endangered Grevy’s zebras, reticulated giraffes, African elephants, oryx, gerenuks, and cape buffalos. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of big cats such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, or hyenas. You could also spot hippos and Nile crocodiles at the river. The reserve is home to Somali ostriches, larger than Maasai ostriches and easily identifiable by their indigo legs and neck. Moreover, the reserve boasts of more than 365 bird species that have been recorded in the area.