Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park, formerly known as the Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, the park lies in the North West direction of Mount Kilimanjaro on the border of Kenya and Tanzania in Kajiado County in Kenya. This park stretches over an area of 392 square kilometers, which is dominated by acacia woodland, rocky thorny bush, swamps marshland and a Pleistocene lake with the Masai communities living around its boundaries.

Amboseli national park was declared a UNESCO a World heritage site in 1991 because of the unique ecological system; it’s currently ranked as one of the most scenic destinations in Kenya, making it a destination you should never miss on your itinerary while on a safari in Kenya.

Amboseli national park hosts a large concentration of elephants, which extend hundreds in number; because of the huge population of elephants, the park is also considered as Africa’s best spot for viewing free-range elephants. The park is a home to many other animal species which thrive in the semi-arid savannah vegetation of the park, animals found and spotted include blue wildebeests, plains zebras, Maasai giraffes, Cape buffalos, Maasai lions, spotted hyenas, cheetahs, impalas, wild dogs, crocodiles, nocturnal porcupines, gazelles, rhinos, leopards, grant’s zebra, hippos, mongooses, hyraxes, blue wildebeest, dik-dik, lesser kudus and many more.

The park is a home to over 600 bird species including raptor and rare bird species. Amboseli national park occasionally receives migratory bird species most especially in the period between the months of November to April. Over 3600 bird species migrate to the park from areas neighbouring Amboseli national park and Kenya at large, these bird species include golden-winged sunbird, crowned hornbill, superb starling, bristle-crowned starling and many more.

Other bird species found in the park include Madagascar pong herons, lesser flamingoes, shoebills, lesser kestrels, and kingfishers, African swamp hen, common redshank, Dickinson’s kestrel, Eurasian thick-knee, greater flamingo, Hartlaub’s bustard, lesser flamingo, yellow-necked spur fowl and many more.

The park rewards visitors with spectacular view of the natural beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro, famously known as the world’s highest mountain, located a few distance away from the park. The park is surrounded with Maasai people who live around and to travelers who enjoy authentic culture of the Native people never live the park without experiencing Maasai people’s norms, traditional dance and their unique dressing code, which is quite interesting culture to visit.

Tourists to Amboseli national park are not usually allowed to leave their safari vehicle because of the danger they might face with the wildlife. They are only recommended to get out at observation hill, which is in pyramid shaped hill and provides a gainful view of the surrounding.

What to do in Amboseli National Park

There are several things that one can engage in during their visit to Amboseli national park; these will make your nature experience a fun-filled one.

 

Nature and Wildlife Tours.

This involves travelling all around the national park in buses and tourist vans, Game drives, off-road tours, viewing the natural landscape, the waterbodies and a variety of other living creatures in the park. It gives an opportunity to tourists to move all around the park and get to see the different kinds of species of animals and birds as they tend to hide out in the bushes and grasslands resting or due to the weather conditions, more so on the sunny weather when they try to look for shade or water.

 

Birding and wildlife viewing.

Amboseli National Park is a home to a variety of birds and animal species found in the wild, which are beautiful to look at. The park habits three categories of water birds, which thrive in the swampy region of the park, grassland birds  living in savannah plains and forest birds living in acacia vegetation. Some of the bird species include African jacana, goliath heron, Marabou stork, Kingfisher, African fish Eagle, Grey crowned crane and African swamp hen among others.

Wildlife in Amboseli national park is concentrated in five specific areas/ habitants that is dried up bed of Lake Amboseli, Sulphur spring wetlands, savannah vegetation cover, open plains and woodlands. It has a number of wild animals from the widely known Elephants, Lions, Buffalos, Leopards, Zebras, Cheetahs, wildebeests, giraffe, hippopotamus, Thomson’s gazelle, impala, lion, Cape buffalo and many more. These numerous wildlife species offer spectacular game drive and the best time to enjoy the game drive and see animals is during the dry season (June to October). The most fascinating part of visiting the park in dry season for animal viewing is that when large herds of animals are crossing the sandy plains they kick up a lot of dust thus offering a great opportunity for photography. Animals in the park are perfectly viewed from the observation hill and at sinet delta.

 

Meeting the local people.

The fascinating Masai people dominate the out skirts of Amboseli national park, visiting the Masai village is very much unavoidable as it offers the authentic African culture. In the Masai village, you get to encounter Masai cultural traditions, which include Masai dances, traditional songs and their unique way of addressing which is similar to the Karamojong of Uganda, local food dishes and you can also buy Masai artifacts

 

However, there are other local people residing around Amboseli National Park from the neighbouring countries like Tanzania since the park is seated on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the local people around, get to know their culture, food, history and many more other things.

 

Filming and photography.

Amboseli is famously known for its large-herds of Elephants. This has attracted activities like filming and photography by researchers and documentaries from around the globe. It’s also referred to as the home to the “Big Five” referring to the most dangerous animals difficult to hunt on foot in the continent of Africa.

 

Visiting the Top sights in Amboseli.

These are considered as Amboseli’s major attraction spots including many other attractions. These are liked and visited by many tourists as they provide a clear view to the rest of the attractions as well the surrounding landscape. These top sights include Enameshera mountain peak, Kitirua camping site, and the Noomotio observation point.

WhEN TO VISIT Amboseli National Park

Best time to visit Amboseli National park is throughout the year, though African countries is experienced with two seasonal climatic changes composed of wet and dry seasons. However, the best time to visit is in dry months, which happens from June to October and January to February, which are good for game viewing. Wet season which starts from November to May provides a rewarding landscape viewing of Mount Kilimanjaro and this spectacular viewing can be done early in the morning and late afternoon when the sky is set clear of dust.

 

Best season

The best time to visit the park is dry season when the park is not slippery which starts from June to September and January to February. And within this period it receives little rainfall and good for wildlife viewing where you can be able to explore variety of wild animals such as, African bush elephant, impala, lions, cape buffaloes, cheetah, Masai giraffes, Grant’s zebra, blue wildebeest, spotted hyenas.

 

High Season-Dry /peak season 

This is the busiest season for safari tour packages in Amboseli National Park, which starts from December to March and July to October annually. Best for Christmas celebrations, game viewing of animals and clear view of Kilimanjaro and this is because the area can be out of water source but malaria is much less of a problem in the dry season. During the dry season, travelers are recommended to carry insect repellents.

 

November to May –Wet season

This is the best time for birding since migratory birds can be on arrival in  the park, rewarding view of Mount Kilimanjaro, plenty of animals can be seen due to variety of food in the park, the park can be rewarding due to green pastures, vegetation which attracts mammal species. Note that during wet season road, transport can be in poor condition most especially in April to May and game drive can be interrupted in the peak rainfall. To travelers who do not want to spend much money on their safari, wet season could be their favourable one. Since accommodation, rates can be at low rate and the park can receive few visitors. Some of bird species to be encounter include, Greater flamingo, long toed lapwing, Rufous Chatterer, Steel blue whydah, Von der Dicken’s hornbill, Yellow necked spur fowl, Common redshank, Hartlaubs bustard, African swamp hen, pangani long claw, and Taveta golden weaver.

HOW TO GET To Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park is situated in adjust to Kenya and Tanzania in Loitoktok district in Rift Valley of Kenya which is a distance of 365 kilometers southeast Nairobi the most developed town nearing the park, Nairobi is the most popular entry in Kenya by foreign tourists using Jomo Kenyatta international airport (NBO) which is situated 15 kilometers southwest of Nairobi. Amboseli national park is easily accessed by both road and using a domestic flight.

 

By Road

By road there are good maintained routes from Nairobi leading to Amboseli national park, Amboseli national park is reached using five gates that is airstrip gate, kulunyiet gate, iremito gate, meshananai gate which situated in a drivable distances from Nairobi city. While on a drive from Nairobi city it is a drive of 2.5 hours to meshananai gate via Nairobi route, using kimana gate you use a 228 kilometers route, which passes through a small town Emali to Mombasa main route leading to the eastern region of the park.

You can opt to reach Amboseli national park through Isinya, this route is 240 kilometers leads from Magadi road in Nairobi, and this route later joins Nairobi-Arusha route passing through Namanga town. From Namanga town to meshananai gate it is a drive of 45 minutes – 1 hour but you may spend more time due to heavy traffic on this route.

 

By air

There are numerous flight companies offering daily-chartered flights from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta international airport to Amboseli airport. Companies offering domestic chartered flights to Amboseli national park include

  • Air Kenya flying from Nairobi
  • Safari link flying from Nairobi and Tsavo west
  • Mombasa Air Safari flying from Mombasa, Masai mar, Malindi and Diani beach

When you are planning to use air means of transport to Amboseli it is important to book your flight earlier before the actual date of your safari to avoid delays and also have the right travel documents.