Located at the foot of the world’s highest free standing mountain, Amboseli is one of the most popular of Kenya’s national parks. Its attractions for such small park are diverse - the crystal white snows of Kilimanjaro, forming a majestic backdrop to a spectacular array of wildlife. It is home to the lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, cheetah and the buffalo.
The park which lies close to the Tanzania- Kenya border consists of mainly savannah grassland is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants, hence the name ‘land of giants’. Its elephant populations are in large herds and include some impressively tusked bulls are drawn to a series of large, lush swamplands.
The snowcapped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rising above a saucer of clouds dominates every aspect of Amboseli in its 392 sq km but despite its small size and its fragile ecosystem it supports a wide range of mammals (well over 50 of the larger species) and birds (over 400 species). The early light of dawn turns the mountain a dark hue of purple, and its snows into an ethereal pink. The sight of Kilimanjaro high above herds of elephant crossing the plains of Amboseli is a timeless African image.
A part of the Park is composed of a dried-up lake bed which in the shimmering heat produces mirages. Swamps and springs, fed by underground rivers from Kilimanjaro’s melting snows, form permanent watering places for the wildlife through times of drought. The lake bed is subject to sporadic floods and noxious salts in the gravel bed are dissolved to serve as a deadly poison for what is left of the local woods; very few of the fine acacias, once a feature of this region, remain
Amboseli is famous also as home to the local Maasai community, who lie their life as nomads but have nevertheless learned to live in complete harmony with their environment and the wildlife which surrounds them.
All round the park are occupied and abandoned Manyatta - Maasai villages - quickly built out of bent poles and sticks and plastered with cow dung and equally swiftly abandoned when the grazing is finished and the herds must move on.
The Park’s best game runs are around the swamps and there is a fine lookout on Observation Hill which offers views over the whole of the Park and beyond. In the park’s centre is a large hill, with fantastic views of the surrounding plains, often crossed by whirlwinds that send winding columns of dust into the sky.
This open country is good walking territory, and many camps and lodges organize game walks, or trips to spend time in local Maasai villages.
Amboseli is a 4 hour drive or 140 kilometers from Nairobi or can be accessed through small airport called the Amboseli Airport.