Samburu and Buffalo springs National Parks lie either side of the Northern Ewaso Ngiro river which is generally wide and shallow but vanishes completely in very dry seasons and rises high enough to flooding both banks after heavy rains, app 340 km north north-east of Nairobi. Both were established in 1948 as the Samburu-Isiolo Game Reserve, part of the once extensive Marsabit National Reserve. Buffalo Springs consists of gently rolling plains of volcanic origin, while Samburu is more rugged, with outcrops of ancient basement rocks forming isolated inselbergs. The soils are mainly sandy or gravelly; rainfall is 350 mm/year.
Despite their relatively small sizes, the reserves contain contrasting habitats: rocky cliffs and scarps; pools, swamps and riverine sandbanks; arid open bush and grassland; tracts of Acacia tortilis woodland; and, along the banks of the Ewaso Ngiro and its tributaries (the Isiolo and Ngare Mara), a narrow band of riverine forest with magnificent Acacia elatior, Tana River poplar Populus ilicifolia and doum palm Hyphaene compressa. The Buffalo Springs themselves, with their pools and streams of clear, fresh water, are a magnet for thirsty wildlife in the dry season.
Birding Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Parks
Avifauna is diverse and magnificent with over 380 species recorded. 62 of the 94 species of the Sudan-Masai biome that occur in Kenya have been recorded here. Birds of the arid northern bush country are augmented by a number of riverine forest species. A number of raptor nest on the cliffs of Samburu’s inselbergs. Birds like Donaldson Smith's Sparrow-Weaver, Shining Sunbird and Bristle-crowned Starling and other arid-country species, reach their southern limit here. Two globally threatened species, the Lesser Falcon and Lesser Kestrel have also been recorded at these sites. Regionally threatened species include Casmerodius albus, Trigonoceps occipitalis, Buphagus africanus, Polemaetus bellicosus, and Anhinga rufa.
The availability of water by the river attracts a variety of other wild life including large and small mammals.