Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National park is one of the most popular parks of Kenya and is home to the largest population of African Bush elephants in Kenya which makes it a popular and rewarding safari destination. The national park which covers an area of 392 square kilometers is rich in bio diversity and offers stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa. The views are stunning especially while on a game drive in Amboseli national park as one is treated to amazing views of the pink flamingos in the blue water with a perfect backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, a picturesque moment while on the water point trail in Amboseli national park.
The national park formerly known as the Maasai Amboseli Game reserve was gazetted and achieved national park status in 1974 and has over the years welcomed visitors who are drawn to the park by the incredible wildlife sightings and rich eco system. Amboseli national park is a UNESCO World Hertitage site and is one of the best wildlife conservation areas in East Africa.
Wildlife of Amboseli National Park
Amboseli national park hosts about 80 species of mammals but is famously known for its large population of free ranging elephants that are usually seen strolling and feeding in the park. Amboseli national park is home to other wildlife species that include Cape buffaloes, Waterbucks, Lions, Hippopotamus, Olive baboons, Spotted Hyenas, Maasai Giraffe, Warthogs, Grant’s Zebras, Wildebeest, Impalas, Cheetah, Mongoose, Lesser Kudu, Dik-dik, Hyrax, Thomson’s gazelle and Nile crocodiles.
The national park hosts three of the Big Five that includes elephant, buffalo and lion. Leopard is a very rare sighting at Amboseli national park and black rhinos are no longer available in the park. Wildlife is best seen while on a game drive that takes you through different park trails as well as to the Ol Okenya swamp that usually has an abundance of animals foraging in the swamp. The game drive also takes you to what is known as the “observation point” which is a rocky outcrop that offers great wildlife viewing from the top.
Birds of Amboseli National Park
Amboseli national park is a birding hotspot and a great site for birding while on a Kenya Safari. For the specialist birder you can expect wonderful birding opportunities at Amboseli national park as it is home to 400 species of birds including over 40 birds of prey.
Birds to look out for while on a birding safari in Kenya include Lesser Kestrel, Malagasy pond heron, Lesser Flamingo that occur in large numbers in Amboseli, African darter, Great egret, White-backed duck usually seen in the swampy areas, White-headed Vulture, Martial eagle, Hamerkop, Yellow-knecked Spurfowl, Grey-crowned Crane, Superb Starling, Saddle-billed stork, African Spoonbill, Black-headed heron, White-browed coucal, Kittlitz’s Plover, Goliath Heron, African Jacana, Crowned Lapwing, Common Ostrich, Marabou Stork, Black-winged stilt, Knob-billed duck, Egyptian goose, African Pygmy goose, Helmeted Guinea fowl, African Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Malachite Kingfisher, Striped Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Crested Francolin, Secretary bird, Common Quail, Greater Flamingo, Dusky Turtle-dove, Hadada Ibis, Lappet faced vulture, Kori Bustard, Black-bellied Bustard, Long-tailed Cormorant, Bare-faced Go-away bird, Pied Cuckoo, Spotted Thick-knee among other bird species.
Vegetation of Amboseli National Park
The park has different vegetation types which are a great contributor to the greater eco system of Amboseli national park as they are habitats for the wildlife and provide food for the wildlife resident to the park. The vegetation of Amboseli is made up of alkaline grasslands, seasonally-flooded lake grasslands where the wildlife likes to forage, dense woodland, permanent swamps that are home to water birds and swamp dwellers, scrubland, dense bushlands with sparse trees and open woodlands that are dominated with acacia trees.
Top things to do while in Amboseli National Park
The most popular activity in the park is most definitely game drives as they offer the best game viewing opportunities. There are morning game drives, full day game drives and night game drives specifically to look out for the nocturnal species. All the game drives are guided hence you have the most professional guides with you who are well conversant with Amboseli national park, the animals tracks and the different park trails. The highlight for visitors during the game drive is usually the stop over at Lake Amboseli basin which usually has large numbers of animals foraging in the area including hippos, elephants, water birds and the beautiful lesser flamingos, the other highlight is watching wildlife from an elevation point which is called “the observation point.”
Bird Watching in Amboseli National Park
Being an Important Bird Area (IBA) Amboseli National park is a bird watching hot spot with opportunities to look out for mid and high elevation bird species, savanna specials, raptors, water birds and swamp endemics. Birding in Amboseli offers you a diverse experience as the park has different vegetation types that are all habitats for different species of birds.
Cultural Tours (Visit a Maasai Village)
The Maasai are a cultural group in Kenya that were original inhabitants of Amboseli national park. The Maasai are known for their colourful traditional wear that consists of colourful blankets and beaded jewellery as well as known for their interesting traditional dance that involves jumping up high. A visit to a Maasai village brings you closer to the local people and also offers you a glimpse in to their culture and way of life. You will be taken through the history of how they used to live in Amboseli before the park was officially gazetted and designated as a national park. This is a great way to spend an afternoon while on safari in Kenya.
Walking safaris in Amboseli national park were introduced as an alternative way to explore the park aside from the game drives. Instead of exploring the park in a car, with walking safaris you explore the park on foot with the guidance of a professional park and ranger guide. The walking safari is an opportunity to get closer to wildlife, see animals up close and also learn more about the wildlife as your driver guide takes you through the animal tracks. The walking safari is also an opportunity to have expansive views of Amboseli national park at ground level. The walks are usually done in the morning or evening after a relaxed lunch at the lodge.
Hot Air Balloon Safari
Amboseli national park is one of the best places in Africa to do the hot air balloon safari. The hot air balloon excursion is a unique experience that involves watching wildlife and the stunning Mount Kilimanjaro from a bird’s eye view. The experience is magical as you are almost up in the sky looking over at the wildlife in the park, the open grassland areas and the Maasai manyattas (homesteads) in the surrounding area. The safari starts at sunrise across the national park and towards the park swamps where animals like to head in search of food and then end the safari with a lovely delicious breakfast in the park.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit is during the dry season that is from June to September and from January to February.The low season is during April and May and it is rainy during these months as it’s the peak of the wet season in Kenya. Please note that Amboseli national park can however be visited throughout the year and we can arrange your safari at any time all throughout the year.
Where to Stay in Amboseli National Park
There are different accommodation options in Amboseli national park and these include;
Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge – This is an upmarket safari lodge situated in the midst of Amboseli national park. The lodge features comfortable rooms in long rows next to each other and each room has an en-suite bathroom with hot water showers available throughout the day. The lodge also has a swimming pool which is perfect for relaxing after a long day in the park and also lush gardens are available at the safari lodge with sitting areas. The lodge also has a spa available and a restaurant that serves fresh delicious meals.
Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli – Tortilis camp is a luxury camp named after the acacia tortilis trees that are usually seen in the woodland areas of the park. The camp is nestled in a private conservancy bordering the national park and features spacious tents, a main lounge, well-stocked bar and a dining area. This camp is the perfect base while on safari in Amboseli national park and is a great blend between a luxurious and private safari experience. Tortilis Camp is also a great option for families on safari together as it has a private house and family tent with interconnecting rooms to accommodate parents staying together with their children.
Kilima Safari Camp – this is a mid-range facility that offers guests comfort and serenity while on safari in Amboseli. The lodge has a swimming pool, spa, dining area serving delicious meals, a well-stocked bar with trained mixologists and a curio shop. The camp features safari tents with stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro and standard tents that feature queen size comfortable beds. The lodge is situated next to the Kimana gate park entrance and also makes for a good base while on safari in the park.
How to get to Amboseli National Park
The park is located 215 km south east of Nairobi and can be accessed by either road or flight. If travelling by road the drive from Nairobi the capital city of Kenya to Amboseli national park is about 4 hours that is excluding stop overs along the way. The drive takes you through the scenic Kenya landscape and the small busy towns usually filled with the locals going on about their day. The route is Nairobi – Athi River – Kajiado – Namanga – Amboseli National Park.
The alternative way to get to Amboseli national park is by charter flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to Amboseli Airstrip and the flight takes about 40 minutes.
Tours to Amboseli National Park