The 100 sq. mile Shaba National Reserve is east and contiguous with Samburu National Park. Together with the vast and unpopulated wilderness immediately to their north, this area of Laikipia is commonly referred to as the “Great Northern Frontier.” But unlike its sister park at its side, Shaba is very undeveloped. It’s also wetter, including 25 miles of the Ewaso Nyiro River and the swamp in which it dies, and lies in the fortuitous rain shadow of Mt. Shaba, an ancient volcano on its southern border. Exploration of the reserve, therefore, is useful only in four-wheel drive vehicles, but the rewards can be greater than the very popular Samburu.
Like Samburu, this is mojave desert terrain which blooms miraculously in the short rainy seasons and becomes quite dusty and parched at other times of the year. The Ewaso Nyiro river and the ensuing palmetto forests which grow out a considerable distance from its banks is the reason so much game is found here, and the river flows for well longer than the rainy seasons as it comes from the Aberdare Mountains.
Shaba’s game like all of Laikipia is dominated by elephant but includes a great variety of beautiful and very rare animals like the reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra.
Shaba’s historical fame comes from the great author and environmentalist, Joy Adamson, whose many books including Born Free were about this area.