The Amboseli National park is the second-largest and most famous National Park after Masai Mara in Kenya. It is located in the south-eastern part of Kenya and about 4 hours away from Nairobi and is best known for having the largest herd of big-tusked elephants in the whole country. The National Park was also declared a UNESCO Heritage site in 1991.
Amboseli National Park was declared a National Park in 1974 and it covers over 392 kilometers squared with some of the best backdrops which is Kilimanjaro Mountain. It is home to quite a large number of animals (80 different species) for example zebras, lions, elephants, and buffalos among others, and over 400 bird species. A few of the bird species in the Amboseli include the spike-heeled lark, Von der Decken’s hornbill, common redshank, greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, African swamp hen, and long-toed lapwing among others.
Places to visit while in Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is one of the places that you should visit and while here, some of the spots that are a must-visit while in Amboseli National Park include the following:
The snow-capped mountain which is at an altitude of about 5896 meters above sea level can easily be viewed from Amboseli National Park. The National Park is located on the western side of Kilimanjaro which is a hot and dry side as compared to the other side of the Mountain. The view that Kilimanjaro offers is an experience that every tourist should experience.
The observation hill
The observation hill is found in the western part of the National Park and is one of the places that you should check out. It is shaped like a cone and is famous for having the greatest view of the whole national park with all the animals, bird species, swamps and wetlands, Lake Amboseli, Mountain Kilimanjaro, and the surrounding plains.
A lake in Amboseli National Park, the Sinet Delta is known as the best birding spot in Amboseli. Sinet Delta is also surrounded by thick vegetation where different bird species can be spotted and giraffes that fee on the vegetation around Sinet.
The Elephant research camp
Elephants are the main attraction in Amboseli National park and attract thousands of tourists every year. The research camp is where you get to learn more about the conservation of the elephants but note that it cannot easily be accessed and you need a prior booking if you want to gain access to it. The elephant research camp was set up by DR Cynthia Moss and at the moment it is being managed by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. Dr. Cynthia wrote different books which helped in conserving the elephants and some of the books are the Elephant Memories and The Amboseli Elephants. If you get the chance to gain access to the research camp, you will have an hour to explore and find out more about the Amboseli elephants.
The Masai are the most famous people and tribe in Kenya and this is because they have a unique culture and ways that they have not adapted to the new ways of life and technology. Their culture and bright-colored clothes are something that you should experience while on your trip to Amboseli National Park.
Lake Amboseli located within the heart of the National Park is the best place from where you can watch the different types of animals, especially during the dry season when animals can be seen gathering around the Lake for water and several bird species that are best seen during the rainy season.
Several activities can be carried out while on a safari to Amboseli and these include the following:
Guided nature walks
Nature walks are one of the many ways that you get to explore the Amboseli National Park and one that is best done during the dry season. There are marked routes that you can use on the nature walks and one of the advantages of taking the nature walks is that you will get closer to the animals and also get the real feel of the wild. Note that you will not be allowed to walk through the National Park alone as it is only allowed if you have an experienced tour guide and armed ranger. Some of the things that you will need for your guided walks include good hiking boots, a sun hat, insect repellent, dull-colored clothes, bottled water, a camera, binoculars, and a walking stick.
There are also rules that you should follow while taking guided nature walks and these are, move in a single line, follow the tour guide, do not approach the animals, and keep a good distance between you and the animals.
Photography safari in Amboseli
Amboseli National Park is a great destination for tourists who are into photography and filming. The backdrop from Mountain Kilimanjaro, the landscape within the National Park, wildlife that is the many animals especially the big five like elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards and rhinos, giraffes and elands among others, the different bird species, wetlands and swamps, and the Masai people. The best way in which you can get good pictures of Amboseli is by camping in the wild. You will not only have the real feel of the African wild nature but you will also get clear pictures of the wild animals. Note that you will not only be allowed to go outside the camps without an experienced tour guide.
One of the best spots where you can do photography is the observation hill which has a clear view of the whole Park. Photography is also best done while camping although you can s well carry your camera on game drives and nature walks. Make sure that you carry enough batteries for your camera and note that photographs are best taken either in the morning or late afternoons when the sun is not overhead.
Horse riding in Amboseli National Park
Horseback riding in Amboseli National Park is a good way to get around the National Park. It brings you closer to the animals and you get to explore the park in a different and along the offbeat roads. The horseback rides start from the town of Namanga and go through the Amboseli National Park to the Chyulu hills which offer a great view of different types of animals. You will have a tour guide with you all the time and you should ride through the bushes since you will cover more distance as compared to using the marked trails. Horseback riding is for only those that have prior experience in horse riding since the distance taken is a bit longer. Horse riding in Amboseli is best done during the dry season and early in the morning.
Birding in Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park is a birding paradise with over 400 bird species that can be spotted in the different parts of the National Park like the acacia woodland, swamps, and grasslands. The best time to go for birding in Amboseli is during the rainy season which is experienced in the months of d then from November to December. The national park has two rainy seasons with the long and first one beginning in March to June and the second one starting in November and ending in December. The rainy season in Amboseli sees many of the migratory birds flying into the country and joining the indigenous bird species. Some of the bird species that you should expect to see while here include the Hatlaub’s bustard, Rufous chatterer, lesser flamingo, Pangani long claw, Dickinson’s kestrel, greater flamingo, long-toed lap claw, common redshank, Tavete golden weaver and the African swamp hen among others.
The migratory birds normally fly into the Amboseli National Park in the 2nd phase of the rainy season which is October to December. For you to enjoy your birding experience in the National Park, you need to carry a few pieces of equipment and these include binoculars, a camera and extra batteries, a rain jacket, and a recognition book.
Game drives in Amboseli
Amboseli National Park is a top destination for tourists who enjoy game drives. The game drives are best done during the dry season when many of the animals can easily be spotted. The dry season is the best because the pastures during this time have dried out and there is limited water which means that the animals are always on a hunt for food and can be spotted at the different waterholes that are found in the National Park. All the game drives in Amboseli National Park are either done in the morning hours or late afternoon to avoid the overhead sun and heat. The first session starts as early as 6:30 am to midday and the late afternoon drives normally start at 2 or 3 pm to 6:30 pm. Wildlife that you should expect to see while on your game drives include the big five that is lions, elephants, hippos, leopards, buffalos, zebras, baboons, Aardwolf, and Grant’s gazelle, waterbucks, monkeys, and jackals.
Game drives can be done all over the Amboseli National Park but the best spots for game viewing are around the Ol Tukai, the observation hill, Olokenya swamp, Lake Amboseli, and Ekongo Narok swamp.
Enjoy the traditional dances
The traditional dance performed by the Masai is unique in a way that the movements that are done during the dancing mimic jumping up and down. This is why many say that you cannot enter a jumping competition with the Masai because you will not win. The traditional dance entertainment can be arranged at the different campsites around a bonfire or while camping in the wild. You can also participate in the traditional dancing to add on some fun while on a safari to Amboseli National Park.
Hot air balloon rides in Amboseli
Hot air balloon rides in Amboseli National Park are mainly offered in the conservancies and these rides are a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will not forget. The baskets that are used for the balloon rides are spacious and can carry a maximum of 16 people. The ride normally begins at 6:00 am and lasts an hour. The balloon ride will take you around the National Park where you get to enjoy the great views of animals, landscapes, and Mountain Kilimanjaro. After the balloon ride, breakfast and champagne will be served. Note that you need to book early to participate in the balloon rides because of the large numbers of people ad few riding baskets.
You will need to leave your lodges an hour early so that you get there on time. The balloon ride ranges from $400 to $500 per person. Hot air balloon rides are mostly done during the dry season.
Camping in Amboseli
Camping is the best way to get to meet and enjoy the wildlife in Amboseli National Park, especially for birders and photographers. Camping gets you real close to the animals and is done in specific parts of the National Park. There are rules that you need to follow as you bush camp in Amboseli and these are
- You are not allowed to move out of your tent at night
- Do not move around the camp alone
- You will need a flashlight
- Make sure there is no fire left outside before you sleep.
Mobile camping during your stay in Amboseli is the best way for you to view the wildlife in the National Park and these can easily be set up by the management of the Park and your tour operator. Make sure that you book early to enjoy your camping trip in Amboseli National Park. The best time for camping in the National Park is during the dry season when the park is not soggy and slippery.
Climb the Kilimanjaro Mountain
Mountain Kilimanjaro is the highest Mountain in Kenya with a snow-capped peak. It can easily be accessed from Amboseli National Park and a climb up the mountain can be arranged. The Mountain has three peaks and these are the Kibo peak which is the highest, the Mawenzi peak, and the Shira peak. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a dream for many tourists and your trip to Amboseli can provide this opportunity for you. You can as well check out the Kilimanjaro National Park on your descent from the Mountain and just like any other activity, climbing up the Kilimanjaro is supposed to be booked early and you need to first find out if the activity can be added to your itinerary.
Cultural trip to Amboseli
Amboseli National Park is surrounded by the Masai community. A cultural trip to the Masai villages can be arranged and you will be required to pay an entrance fee to the Masai chief before you are allowed to enter and interact with the locals. After payment of the entrance fees, you will be welcomed by the women with songs and dance. You can also get to participate in the different activities that are carried out in the villages, and get to see their uniquely built huts known as Bomas and these are constructed using mud. The cultural trip will give you an insight into the day-to-day lives of the Masai people and you can also buy yourself some souvenirs. The Masai cultural trip will take roughly about an hour and therefore you must enjoy every minute of the tour. Cultural tours can be done all year round but the best time is during the dry season since it involves walking around the National Park.
Where to stay in Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park has a wide range of accommodation that you can choose from and these are categorized into three that is budget accommodation facilities, mid-range accommodation facilities, and luxury accommodation facilities. All the accommodations found within and outside Amboseli were well constructed to suit the basic needs of every tourist who visits the National Park.
Budget accommodation in Amboseli includes Tawi lodge, Endonyo Amboseli, and the Paran resort among others. These are the best for tourists traveling on a budget and they offer basic facilities to guests.
Mid-range accommodation in Amboseli includes the AA lodge, Porini Amboseli Camp, and Satao Elerai camp.
The luxury accommodation facilities in Amboseli include Serena safari lodge, Ol Tukai lodge, Kilima safari camp, and Tortilis camp.
What is the best activity in Amboseli National Park?
Game drives are the best activities carried out in Amboseli and this is due to the many animals and bird species that are found in the Park. Game drives in the National Park are best done during the dry season and they are carried out with the guidance of an experienced Masai guide.
Best time to visit the Amboseli National Park
The Amboseli National park can be visited all year round but the best time is during the dry season which is from June to October and then from December to February. This is the best time for game drives because the animals can easily be spotted due to the thinning of the vegetation and scarcity of water which forces the animals to go to the remaining waterholes, nature walks, and cultural tours. The best time for birding however is during the wet season which is from March to May and November to December.
How to get to Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park can easily be accessed through different transport means and whichever you choose, you will get to the desired destination in one piece. The main two transport means that are used to get to Amboseli are air transport and road transport.
- Use of road, you can use public means or private means to get to Amboseli National Park and the choice is determined by your budget.
- By flight, flights can easily chatter from Nairobi, and these land at the airstrips where a tour vehicle will be waiting for you to take you to your accommodation facilities.
Other places worth visiting
Even though Amboseli National Park has a lot to offer in terms of activities, you can still join your safari to Amboseli with other amazing places and these have been listed below:
- Masai Mara Game Reserve
- Masai Mara is the top most visited National Park in Kenya and this is due to because are many activities that you can carry out like nature walks and the one activity you should anticipate is the wildebeest migration that happens every year.
- Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is best known for being a home to thousands of flamingos. The National Park is small and can easily be navigated by driving through the savannah grasslands, hills, and the good sight of pink flamingos all in one place. A trip to Lake Nakuru will be a refreshing and new experience for all tourists.
- Tsavo West National Park
The Tsavo West National Park is home to different types of wildlife and unlike the Tsavo East National Park, this one is more Mountainous and is well drained due to the presence of Mzima springs and Lake Jipe. You can also visit this National Park after your Amboseli National Park safari.
- Lake Naivasha National Park
Lake Naivasha National Park is home to a wide range of animals like gazelles, buffaloes, leopards, lions, and giraffes. It also has a great view of the Great Rift Valley and the bird species that can be spotted on Lake Naivasha.
- Mountain Kilimanjaro National Park
Mountain Kilimanjaro National Park is one of the places that you should visit while on a safari to Amboseli. The park is not a large one and can easily be navigated and is home to a variety of wildlife that can be seen during game drives and nature walks.
Plan your trip to the Amboseli National park and enjoy all the activities that Amboseli has to offer. Note that some of these activities will need an additional cost for you to be able to engage in them like hot air balloon rides and horse riding. Choose Amboseli as your next Safari destination and you will not regret it.