Kenya // The National Parks and Mombasa Highway //

Shaba National Reserve

On the other side of the Isiolo–Archer’s Post road lies the Shaba National Reserve, where Joy Adamson experimented with the release of hand-reared leopards. Highly recommended, Shaba is much less visited than Samburu or Buffalo Springs. If you’re driving, you’re likely to enter the reserve at Natorbe Gate (6km from the A2 highway junction a couple of kilometres south of Archer’s Post) on a road that rolls up and down through a lava field. The landscapes of Shaba are a lot more varied than you might expect, with the dramatic bulk of Bodich mountain rising behind the river to the north, and steep hills, culminating in Shaba peak, pressing in on the south.

For animals, Shaba is quite the equal of its two neighbours, with lots of elephants, jackals, lions and plains game, including beautifully marked Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and the gerenuk, which rarely if ever drinks, extracting water from morning dew on leaves. Scattered waterholes are the usual targets of visitors, who sometimes spend long periods just watching and waiting from their vehicles. Unusually, you are permitted to walk in various places in Shaba. The rangers at the gate can point out where. If you need fuel, you can usually get it at Sarova Shaba Lodge.

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