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Shaba National Reserve, Kenya

One reason to visit Shaba National Reserve is its dramatic scenery: the landscape varies from deep grasslands to patchy forests and marshes, riverbanks and small woodlands – all dominated by the Shaba Hill volcano.


This remarkable reserve was used as a setting for the movie Out of Africa, the story of an aristocratic Danish lady (played by Meryl Streep) who moves to colonial Africa to start a dairy farm and lives through the best and the worst times of her life on this fascinating continent. The 1966 film Born Free, based on a true story of Elsa the Lioness who was raised by humans and then released back into the wilderness, was also set in Shaba National Reserve and made this safari route quite popular among new generations of African travelers.


The volcanic soils of Shaba allow the vegetation to grow wild and tall, mainly the umbrella acacia bushes. However, many species you can see in other game reserves are quite scarce here: in Shaba you will not see to many zebras or giraffes, but gerenuks and gazelles can be frequently spotted among the green hills. Shaba National Reserve is well known for its large lion prides, hunting at dawn and dozing in the shade of trees under the afternoon sun. On a night safari, you can meet golden jackals, spotted or striped hyenas and rare lone leopards. Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra and all sizes of elephants are among other inhabitants of this enchanting place. The birdlife here is similar to that of Samburu and Buffalo Springs reserves. Extremely rare William’s Lark can only be found here, and the reserve hosts a great amount of migratory birds. More common species include great egret, african darter, white-headed vulture and yellow-billed oxpecker.

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