Amboseli is one of the smaller game parks of Kenya, but a popular destination on a Kenyan Safari. Amboseli is renowned for one of the classic scenes of East Africa - elephants crossing the plains in front of the snow-capped Kilimanjaro. While Mount Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, Amboseli has a perfect view of this mountain.
Amboseli is a four hour drive from Nairobi (200kms). The closest town is Namanga on the Kenyan/Tanzanian border. There are daily flights into Amboseli from Nairobi and the coast. The Park covers 392 square km and boasts five main wildlife habitats namely: open dry plains, acacia woodland, rocky bush areas, swamps and marshland. Amboseli means 'salty dust' in Maasai, but as the park has a permanent water supply from the melting snow from Mount Kilimanjaro, there is a good population of game year-round.
The open plains of Amboseli make game viewing and wildlife photography easy. A wonderful lookout on Observation Hill offers incredible views over the whole of the Amboseli National Reserve. The swamp below Observation Hill hosts many elephants, buffalo, hippo and a variety of water fowl.
Amboseli National Park is home to large herds of elephants, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, hyena, gazelle and impala. Cheetah and lion are often seen, either hunting on the plains or at rest in the undergrowth. Over 400 bird species including 40 raptors have been recorded in Amboseli. Amboseli is one of the best parks in East Africa to observe family groups of elephants and large bull elephants at close quarters.
The elephants of Amboseli are the most celebrated wild elephants in the world. Since 1972, close observation by Cynthia Moss and her research team has led to intimate knowledge of these intelligent animals. The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa's elephants in the context of human needs and pressures through scientific research, training, community outreach, public awareness and advocacy.
Morning and afternoon game drives are the best time to view the game of Amboseli and to view the spectacular African dawn and sunsets. Game drives are done in customized vehicles, which have open roofs or sides and are ideal for photography. Experienced driver guides will accompany you on each game drive. Guided Amboseli nature walks offer a fascinating insight into the world of trees, flowers, insects, reptiles, birds and animals.
Hot Air Balloon rides offer spectacular sunrise views of Mount Kilimanjaro, an aerial view of the authentic Maasai villages and herds of elephant crossing the plains of Amboseli. Enjoy a full English breakfast served at a scenic location in the bush - meals always taste more delectable in the open African air.
Amboseli is surrounded by many Maasai settlements. Many of the lodges and camps work closely with local Maasai communities and arrangements can be made to walk with local Maasai guides or visit Maasai villages, schools and communities around the Park. This is the perfect opportunity to experience the fascinating Maasai people and their cultures.
by Leigh Kemp