The Amboseli area includes the Amboseli and Chyulu Hills National Parks, as well as large Maasai communities and wildlife sanctuaries. This is a very busy park because of its proximity to Nairobi and ease of reaching the many lodges/hotels built in and around the park. The trick is to stay in one of the less mainstream camps and visit the park from mid-morning to lunch when most of the other guests are back in their hotels enjoying brunch! Formerly known as the Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, the area extends to the Tanzanian border and covers an area of 39,206 hectares with a series of swamps at its core.
Amboseli National Park has the awe-inspiring ‘inselberg’ of Mount Kilimanjaro in the background towards the south of the park, and this giant of a mountain located oddly amongst vast plains makes Amboseli one of Kenya's most picturesque parks. The series of swamps that are the result of springs from the ice-melt of "Mount Kili" give the park an enormous biodiversity, and it's one of the foremost wildlife destinations in Kenya - almost equal to the spectacular game counts of the famous Masai Mara and the lesser travelled Laikipia.
The five habitats that occur here are open plains, acacia woodland, thornbush country littered with rocks, swamps and marshland. Most of the park lies across a pleistocene lake basin, now dry. In very wet weather, a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, floods and restricts access to this part of the park. The climate is mainly hot and dry and most of the park falls in the rainshadow of Mt Kilimanjaro.
The animals in the park are famous, especially the free ranging elephant families. There are large herds of buffalo and elephant that wallow in the swamps and are often seen in the palm forests. Zebra, wildebeest and hippo graze on the plains, whilst in the acacia woodland the uncommon fringe-eared oryx and gerenuk are found, and the spectacled elephant shrew.
The large Maasai community in the area means that traditional dances are frequently organised for visitors to observe and learn about the cultures and lectures are also available to learn even more about it. For the more traditional safari experience, bush barbecues, game drives and bird walks are offered, and these are an enjoyable way to spend your time here.
Interacting with the elephants is a big part of the experience in Amboseli and there are many film documentaries telling the stories of these graceful large creatures. The road network is very good although because of the nature of the ashy, volcanic structure of the soil, the park is incredibly dusty in dry season.
Some of the major attractions of the park are:
- Glacial peak of Mt Kilimanjaro if the clouds clear!
- Close interaction with the elephants
- Mt Meru - hiking
- Observation Hill which allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants
- Contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous homesteads (although a little commercialised, worth a visit)
- Camel safaris are also available in the area although we suggest the Laikipia offers better camel safaris with a more rounded experience.
Birding is excellent and includes the Madagascar Squacco Heron which shows up at intervals and the long-toed lapwing is present in small numbers.
A note on contributions to the community:
During 2009 a conservancy fee of US$100.00 is charged per client per night. This is a compulsory fee levied by the Kenya Wildlife Service and the local community and is a combination of parks fees, community conservation fee and community camp fee. This fee is included in the cost per night of our safaris and it is paid directly to the communities concerned.
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Our Recommended Tours
Amboseli and Masai Mara, Kenya - 7 night/8 day safari
It's time to enjoy the plains of Africa.
This safari is perfect for first timers and honeymooners. Both the Amboseli and the Masai Mara have been the subject of many wildlife TV documentaries. Unrivalled views of Mt Kilimanjaro and fantastic local elephant sightings in the Amboseli are the perfect combination with an exclusive camp tucked away in the protected Mara North Conservancy with excellent game viewing.
The rate is per person and applies to safaris which take place in the mid season pricing period.
Amboseli and Masai Mara National Park - 7 nights/8 days
1.5 million beasts moving as one across the plains.
In the best safari tradition this journey will take you to Mt Kilimanjaro, tallest free standing mountain in Africa and scenic backdrop to Amboseli Park's magnificent elephant herds for 2 nights. Continue on to the Masai Mara to stay 4 nights in the superbly situated tented camp at the heart of the animal migratory action. With 1.5 million wildebeest, gazelle and zebra on the move this is truly one of the world's most spectacular migrations.
Kenya Safari Spots
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