The Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, is the second-most popular national park in Kenya after Maasai Mara National Reserve. Amboseli, covering an area of 392 km² and sitting at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, is located 260 km from Nairobi, on the border with Tanzania.
Amboseli National Park has a diverse landscape including two of the five main swamps under its protection, plains, craggy thorn bushes, acacia woodland, marshland and a dried-up Pleistocene lake basin that houses a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, after the rains.
This mixture of topography, together with a long arid season, guarantees great viewing of the large concentrations of game in this natural territory. The majestic Mount Kilimanjaro standing at 5,895 m provides a breathtaking backdrop to the Park.
Amboseli National Park is famed for its large herd of over 900 free-ranging elephants that can be viewed at close range. It is also home to the Blue Wildebeest, the Cape Buffalo, Grant’s Zebra, the Impala, the Maasai Giraffe, the Lion, spotted Hyena and the Cheetah. 400 bird species of birds including the Hamaerkop, Pelican, the Crake and Kingfisher as well as 47 raptor species call the Park their home.
The Amboseli National Park can be accessed by air from Nairobi through a chartered light aircraft that could either land at the Empusel Gate airstrip, Namanga airstrip or the Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge airstrip. The Park can also be reached by road using one’s own vehicle, public transportation, a rented vehicle or a safari van. The road from Nairobi goes via Namanga whilst the one from Mombasa goes through Tsavo West National Park via the Kimana Gate.
There is a wide range of accommodation offers at Amboseli catering to the visitors’ varying preferences. There is the Ol Tukai Lodge known as “a home for the Gods” offering outstanding outdoor and indoor facilities. These facilities include the dining area, serving exquisite dinners accompanied by real African warmth and entertainment provided by the local Maasai morans, the magical open-air Elephant Bar serving a wide variety of beers, classy cocktails, liqueurs, fruit punches, invigorating smoothies and fresh fruit juices and offering a stunning view of the marshlands and Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as the swimming pool shaded by the occasional acacia tree and with a pool deck holding sun beds for relaxation. The Lodge also offers 80 luxury chalet-style twin rooms, all with private bath rooms and individual terraces.
The Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge is nestled in an Acacia grove and provides amazing views of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Lodge offers beautiful rooms decorated with local artwork, a dining area serving the freshest produce sourced from communities surrounding the Park, a swimming pool with a sundeck, a gift shop, a roomy interior bar and more facilities.
Tortilis Camp, named after the flat-topped, umbrella thorn tree, the Acacia Tortilis, is set in a private conservancy adjoining the Park with spacious tents that hold King or twin beds and stylish en suite bathrooms. There is also a main lounge, bar and dining area, all elegantly built with natural materials and thatched roofs, with magnificent views of Kilimanjaro.
Other safari lodges visitors can choose from include Amboseli Sopa Lodge and Kimana Lodge. Campsites include Leopard Tented Camp, Nairushari Special, Cottar’s Tented Camp, Olgulului Public Campsite, Kimbla Campsite Abercrombie and Kent Tented Camp, Chyulu Tented Camp as well as Ker and Downy Tented Camp.
The Maasai Villages
The Maasai people are an indigenous ethnic group in Africa of semi-nomadic people found in Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are generally pastoralists who move from place to place in search of good pasture for their cattle.
When you visit Amboseli, you will see a number of impermanent and semi-permanent settlements by this group. They are a friendly and lovely people. Some have settled and make a living selling and trading with tourists. You can visit their villages and experience their wonderful culture.
Best Time to Visit
For keen birdwatchers, the best months to visit and spot migratory birds are from October to January and the best times to view the animals are early and late in the day. January and February are also good months to visit as are June through to September. April and May and November to December are rainy months and need to be avoided as the roads will be impassable from the rains.
Weather and Climate
The climate in the Amboseli region is generally hot and arid. Average temperatures in the Park differ only a little throughout the year with the maximum average daily temperature recorded at 33°C and the minimum at 27°C. Night time temperatures usually range from22 to 24°C. Drought is typical in this area, and evaporation is high.
Other Safety Considerations
The Park is in an area where malaria is prevalent and visitors are urged to take precautionary measures to stay safe. These include taking Malaria prophylactics, covering bare skin after dusk, sleeping under treated nets and using mosquito repellent creams. To avoid sun burn, visitors are also reminded to carry with them wide brimmed hats and good sunglasses, a high factor sun screen, lip balm, as well as to always stay hydrated under the African sun.