Ngare Ndare Forest and Buffalo Springs
The crystal blue springs associated with the Ngare Ndare Forest are mesmerizing; everyone who sees a photo immediately wants to be teleported to that dreamy, crystal blue water. You will not be disappointed by the springs; they are one of those places that words simply cannot do justice.
After a long, hot drive down the escarpment from Timau into the Ngare Ndare Forest, the springs really do feel like an oasis. As with any oasis, though, getting there is not easy. After driving down the escarpment, you will get to a small road that leads you to the Ngare Ndare forest. At this point, you will need to collect a ranger from the forest gate – there is some hiking required to get to paradise. The road does not end here and you will need to be in a 4×4 for the last part of the drive. Once you have parked, the main spring is a short 15-minute hike into the forest that takes you past the smaller blue pools that flow from the spring.
According to local folklore, the spring is actually a river that runs off Mount Kenya, then disappears under the Nanyuki–Timau road to reappear as a crystal blue spring. The water is incredibly cold, but refreshing after a hot drive.
The Ngare Ndare forest has some great campsites (further down from the spring) for you to spend the night at or stay and camp for a few days. There are a host of activities to engage in the forest, such as the forest canopy walkway, hiking, and quad biking in and around the forest… Ngare Ndare is also surrounded by some of the great Laikipia conservancies, which you can arrange to visit or stay in.
A bit further down the road is yet another marvel of nature. Bordering Samburu National Reserve is Buffalo Springs National Reserve, home to Buffalo Springs, a desert oasis on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River. Buffalo Springs is a natural spring that has been made into a natural swimming pool. It is the ideal place to cool off whilst on a safari or on a game drive. The spring is pristine, clear fresh water that rises through sandy floor, comparable to swimming along the shores of Lake Malawi.
Buffalo Springs is a great way to spend an afternoon in the desert if you are in and around Samburu. Be sure to ask your hosts/camp/lodge to take you there – not everyone knows about this hidden gem.