Amboseli National Park was declared a National Park in 1974 the main reason of protecting the ecosystem. Amboseli is arguably the second most popular park in Kenya after the Masai Mara. The park’s large ecosystem spreads from Kenya to Tanzania and is one of the best places to see large groups of elephant.
For most of the year Amboseli Lake is dry but if it floods in the rainy season, it becomes very salty. Thankfully there is actually a lot of fresh water in the park too, underground streams from the melting snow on Kilimanjaro feed into the marsh land creating a haven for over four hundred species of birds. It’s also a bird lovers paradise with swamps in the park attracting over four hundred species of bird life.
As far as the clients are concerned, there are two reasons to visit Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. One, to see the magnificent population of elephants and two, to witness the extraordinary view of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is from Amboseli National Park that you can see the iconic view of the roof of Africa that is so well known from movies and magazines.
The flat open landscape makes for easy game viewing. Amboseli is a small park, a bit more than 390 square kilometres (1500 sq. miles), located more than 1100 metres above sea level (3790 ft.). ‘Amboseli’ is an English corruption of the Maa word Empusel meaning ‘salty dust’, but the park is far from being only a dry open plain.
Home to five different habitats – you can explore clear-water springs, wetlands, acacia woodland and expansive savannahs. Parts of the forested swamp have been fenced off to prevent elephants from munching their way through the trees and to allow the vegetation time to regrow.
Groups of up to 100 or more elephants are not uncommon. The bull elephants have some of the largest tusks in all of Kenya. There are over 1000 elephants in the Park, including 58 families and close to 300 independent adult males.
Each individual has been named, numbered, or coded and can be recognized individually. This degree of recognition makes the Amboseli elephants the best-known free-ranging population in the world. It’s a fantastic feeling to watch them moving calmly and majestically around the place.
Apart from the elephants, Amboseli has its share of big cats too. Seeing a lion in its natural habitat is incredible enough. But, for those lucky enough, a visit to Amboseli might even mean the chance to spot them in a tree. Cheetahs are also a common sighting there. The park is home to over 80 different mammals from the four of the Big Five( except the rhino), bat-eared foxes (a very rare sighting), giraffe, lion, buffalo, cheetah, and non-migrating wildebeest.
For getting your game-spotting eye ‘in’, Amboseli is ideal. Look out for Thomson’s gazelle and how they differ from impala; Maasai giraffe; Burchell’s or plains zebra; and plenty of spotted hyena (known as ‘spotties’ – there are no brown hyena here). There is also a baboon research centre here to find out more about these very social, inquisitive and intelligent primates.
One of the more obscure, yet worthwhile, reasons to visit Amboseli National Park is the views. Although Mount Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, when the mists clear Amboseli has a picture-perfect view of the snow-capped mountain rising above the rich colours of the savannah. It can often be obscured by clouds, so the best time to spot it is at sunrise and sunset, when the clouds lift and the light is golden. Observation Hill gives panoramic views of the whole park as well as the the swamp below, which is home to numerous elephant, buffalo, hippo and water-birds.
Amboseli is definitely a convenient place to ease into your Kenya safari. It’s closeness to Nairobi does mean that lots of Kenyans drive through for weekends and school holidays, and you may experience traffic congestion during Easter and Christmas so your Pallid Safaris Expert will help you plan your trip with that in mind.