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Sunrise taken from the bridge over the Uaso Nyiro river, between Samburu and Buffalo Springs.

Samburu Complex: information

Elephants in the Uaso Nyiro River
Sunrise over the Uaso Nyiro river.Elephants in the Uaso Nyiro River.
  Unlike more northern (or southern) latitudes, the sunrise and sunset in Kenya don't give the photographer much time to hunt around for the 'right shot'.
"The day just starts.
The sun ambushes the night, flaring the day into being"

Bob Geldof, Geldof in Africa


The three-reserve complex of Samburu/Buffalo Springs and Shaba lie in the semi-desert in the south of Kenya's northern Frontier District, north of the 'town with the pretty mosque' - Isiolo. The main local tribes are the Samburu (close relatives of the Maasai), the Boran and the Turkana.

The journey from Nairobi takes about four hours. Samburu and Buffalo Springs reserves were originally set up in 1948, re-gazetted in 1962/3 and the bridge over the Uaso Nyiro was built in 1964. Shaba was established as a reserve in 1974.

An important feature of all three reserves is the Uaso Nyro ('brown water') river, which forms the boundary between Samburu to the north and Buffalo Springs to the south of the river. Further east, it flows through the Shaba reserve. Its main source is the Aberdare mountains. The river level can vary a lot from hour to hour, and sometimes dries up completely within the reserves. However, Shaba has several permanent springs, and Buffalo Springs, as well as the eponymous springs, has several deep waterholes and the smaller Isiolo river is permanent. In the riverine forest, the most common trees are Acacia elatior, Tana River Poplar, Populus ilicifolia and Doum Palm, Hyphanaene coriacea.
An interesting feature of these parks is an optional visit to a traditional Samburu village. This costs about $20 per person, but be warned... you will be under intense pressure also to buy trinkets as 'souvenirs'!

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