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Amboseli is one of Kenya’s most popular parks and is crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. The Park is romantically situated in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro about 265 Kilometers/ 159 Miles from Nairobi. The driving time from Nairobi to Amboseli is 4 ½ Hours by road.
Formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, Amboseli National Park covers just 392 square km (39,206 hectares) in Kajiado County, Kenya. However, the park is a core part of the much larger Greater Amboseli ecosystem (also termed the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem or various iterations thereof). This massive area of some 8000 square km encompasses Amboseli, Chyulu Hills, Tsavo East and West, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, and everything in between.
Africa’s tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, is just 50 km to the southeast in neighboring Tanzania and its looming form dominates the Amboseli skyline on clear mornings. Apart from its contribution to the scenery, Mount Kilimanjaro has shaped Amboseli’s habitat and wildlife in more fundamental ways.
The constant supply of melting water from the mountain’s glaciers flows off the slopes and sinks below ground before rising through the porous soils in Amboseli to create freshwater springs. The result is that while Amboseli itself is relatively arid with low rainfall averages, some of the parks are dominated by species-rich marshes, with Enkongo Narok, Ol Tukai, and Olokeya the three largest.
The western section of the park also encompasses part of a dry, Pleistocene lake basin. Within this basin, Lake Amboseli is typically dry except during heavy rainy seasons, when it fills with shallow, alkaline water accompanied by a pink flush of opportunistic flamingos. Away from the lakes and marshes, the park is characterized by sparse vegetation and dusty volcanic soils.
“Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust”, and it is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. On the outskirts of Amboseli, there are several conservancies dedicated to conservation and tourism. These increase the available protected land considerably while offering the discerning traveler a more exclusive experience.
The conservancies are supported by the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust, which was established to maintain the larger ecosystem and reduce human-wildlife conflict as wild animals move along ancient migratory paths between the various formally protected parks.
Amboseli offers spectacular wildlife viewing despite its relatively small size. Elephants are the main event, of the park, and the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, initiated by Cynthia Moss has been monitoring the elephants of Amboseli for five decades. Other animals in the park include Hippos, Zebras, Wildebeest, Gerenuks, Giraffes, Leopard, Cheetah, Wild dogs, Buffalo, Lion, crocodiles, Mongoose, Hyrax, Dik-dik, Lesser Kudu, and Nocturnal Porcupine.
Amboseli’s unique blend of semi-arid savanna and marshlands attracts various birds, and over 420 different species (including, miraculously, once, a shoebill) have been recorded in the region. Others include egrets, herons, grey-crowned cranes, Pangani longclaws, steel-blue whydahs, and Von der Decken’s hornbills.
When Is The Best Visiting Time To Go To Amboseli In Kenya
Given the extraordinary wildlife sightings on offer and the best views of Kilimanjaro in Kenya, it is unsurprising that Amboseli is Kenya’s most popular safari destination after the Maasai Mara. The high tourist time coincides with the dry season and arguably the best wildlife viewing as the animals congregate around available water.
However, this does mean contending with higher costs and visitor densities. The two rainy seasons – the short rains from November to December and the long rains from March to May – can make traversing the park and spotting wildlife tricky. That said, the scenery is arguably at its most spectacular with the dampening of the dust.
Amboseli National Park can be visited throughout the year, but the most rewarding wildlife watching is in the Dry season, from June to October, when animals gather around the marshes and other predictable water sources. When dry, animals crossing the sandy plains tend to kick up a lot of dust, offering some great photo opportunities when the light is low.
Weather-wise, Amboseli is typically hot and dry, and the park’s proximity to the Equator ensures relatively consistent temperatures. Naturally, sun protection is a must, as are malaria preventative measures.
2022 Amboseli National Park Entrance Fees
Citizen/ Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
Non-Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
|Adult||800 Kenya Shillings||70 US Dollars|
|Child||215 Kenya Shillings||20 US Dollars|
* Child refers to persons from three years but below 11 years
* Resident refers to persons of other nationalities residing in Kenya with valid documentation from the Kenyan government
* Citizen – A native or inhabitant of East Africa Countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and SouthSudan) with valid identification documents or passport
* Daily – Fee paid for a single entry to a national park, national reserve, or sanctuary and which shall be valid for no longer than twenty-four hours
Amboseli National Park Activities
Noomotio Observation Point
(Also known as Observation Hill) is one of the few places where tourists can exit their vehicles and soak in the park’s atmosphere. Rough-hewn stairs lead to the top of Amboseli’s highest point, which offers astonishing views of the surrounding marshes and lakes, and, on clear days, Kilimanjaro. Other areas include Enameshera mountain peak and Kitirua camping site.
Guided Day Drives & Bird watching
Amboseli is one of the best places in Africa to observe family groups of elephants and large bull elephants at close range. Aside from this, there are 56 known animal species in the park, and you are likely to see Grevy’s and Burchell’s zebra, white-bearded wildebeest, eland, buffalo, hartebeest, hippo, giraffe, wild dog, waterbuck, jackal, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle and impala. If you are lucky you may also come across big cats such as lions and cheetahs, as well as the hyena.
Amboseli National Park is one of the greatest recognized bird habitats in Kenya with over 400 bird species residing in the various regions of the park. Birds in Amboseli national park reside in the swamps, marshes, on the banks of seasonal lakes, grasslands, and acacia woodlands dominating the park.
Among the huge population of birds include Fish Eagle, Secretary bird, Martial eagle, Owls, Vultures, Ostriches, Kori bustards, francolin, Guinea fowl, Waders, papyrus gonolek, Flamingos, Marabou stork among many more other bird species.
Here visitors can explore through guided night drives, on foot, or even on horseback. A stay in one of the private conservancies is typically more expensive (and luxurious) than the national park’s more budget options.
Meeting the Local People
A visit to Amboseli National park would be incomplete without a visit to the nearby Maasai community village. This one-hour visit to a Maasai village is a chance to interact with the Maasai and get a glimpse into their culture, and unique way of life, and see firsthand some of their customs and practices.
The Maasai are the most famous tribal group in all of Africa. They populate vast areas of Southern areas of Kenya and are the dominant ethnic group surrounding Amboseli. This nomadic, warrior tribe which once held vast swathes of pre-colonial Kenya, still retains many of its traditions as they live largely untouched by modern-day civilization, in areas surrounding Amboseli.
So how much is a Maasai Village Visit? Well, the price varies between 25 USDollars to 50 US Dollars per person and is inclusive of a contribution towards the village in form of a fee, as well as return road transfers from your lodge or camp in Amboseli to the village. It should be noted that once at the village, you may be expected to buy some curio or souvenir from the villagers, though this is not mandatory having paid an entry fee.
Biking Tours in Amboseli National Park
Keen mountain bikers will not be able to resist the challenge of exploring this rock and Chyulu Hills landscape, ideally placed between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks. Guests staying at one of the ranches in the area, most owned by local Maasai communities, will have the opportunity to enjoy one of many mountain biking trails in the area.
Cycle along the gorgeous Chyulu Hills, covering a 100-kilometer-long volcanic field. As you dreamily pass through lush mopane forests and rippling hills, with high peaks of 2 188 meters, encounter plenty of plains game dotted throughout the vast hills.
Cycle pass oryx, the giraffe gazelle gerenuk, and the region’s most abundant antelope, the Coke’s hartebeest. This particular antelope is the fastest and most enduring runner in Kenya.
Guided Nature walk
The park is naturally rewarded with stunning vegetation, swamps, and mammal species that can be encountered on your nature walk experience. A guided nature walk in Amboseli national park can be conducted around the park and on the observation hills.
The guided nature walk is the best way of adventuring the hidden treasures of the park since it is done on foot and also get a chance to have a closer view of wild animals such as herds of elephants, zebras, giraffes, impalas, and buffaloes among others as you listen to sweet melodies of birds singing as well as having rewardable sightseeing with a backdrop of snowcapped Kilimanjaro and leave with wondrous experience once in a lifetime.
Amboseli Hot Air Balloon Safari
Float above the plains of Amboseli National Park in a hot air balloon for an unforgettable birds-eye-view. Hot air balloon safaris fly daily over Amboseli National Park which lies on the border with Tanzania, Kajiado District in the Southern Part of Kenya. The entire safari takes 3 and a half hours.
This is a rewarding activity conducted very early in the early as you can be able to fly the skies of Amboseli national park and have a great rewardable aerial viewing of herds of elephants, buffaloes, the plains, and birds of the air, and many more.
This activity is incorporated with the local community. An escorted walking camel safari is undoubtedly one of the most exciting ways of exploring Amboseli. The camel ride will be for 30 minutes.
Amboseli Bush Dinner
Nothing is quite so essentially “Safari” as the traditional ‘bush dinner’, especially when it is enlivened by the presence of a group of scarlet-clad Maasai morans (warriors). Located in a grove of acacia trees immediately adjacent to the lodge, your lantern-lit dinner begins with cocktails around the campfire.
A six-course dinner will then be cooked on a blazing BBQ, accompanied by a wide range of salads and vegetables. While dessert and coffee are served, the Maasai will entertain you with songs, chants, and dance displays. Dine in the wild and taste safari life at its best.
Bubbly Sundowner at Observation Hill (Amboseli)
The ‘sun-downer’ is an essential part of safari life and dates back to the time of the great safaris of the 1920s when elegant cocktails were always served while watching the spectacle of the African sunset.
Timed to begin as the sun begins its descent, the sundowner begins with a gentle evening game drive, arriving at the sundowner site just as the evening sky turns gold-pink.
Amboseli Safari Lodges | Camps & Hotels | Where to Stay
On your safari to Amboseli National Park, you can sleep in Kenya wildlife Service Self Catering guest houses such as Kilimanjaro Guest House, Simba Cottages, and Chui Cottages or at the Amboseli campsite.
Private accommodation includes Oltukai Lodge, Amboseli Serena Lodge, Tortilis Tented Lodge, Kilima Safari Camp, and Tawi lodge among others.
Accommodation options in Amboseli can be found on the following link: Amboseli Chyulu Hills Lodges Camps Hotels
How to get to Amboseli National Park
By Road: The main road into the park is from Nairobi via Namanga (240 km) on the Nairobi – Arusha Road, through Meshanani Gate. The other road is from Nairobi via Email (228 km) on the Nairobi – Mombasa Road. Access from Mombasa is mainly through Tsavo West National Park via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate.
By Air: Airstrips: The park has a single airstrip for light aircraft at Empusel gate. Other airstrips exist at Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge and Namanga town.
Amboseli National Park Gates
Kitirua Gate: Kitirua gate is located in the South-Western part of the park. It lies next to the famous Kitirua hill and you access the gate through Nairobi Namanga road.
Iremito gate: Iremito gate is located in the Eastern part of Amboseli national park and is a 4 hour’s drive away from the capital Nairobi using the Nairobi-Mombasa road via Emali road.
Kimana Gate: Kimana gate is located on the South-Eastern side of the park and is just 5 minutes drive from the headquarters of the Kenya Wildlife Services offices and is accessed from the Emali-Loitokitok road.
Meshanana Gate: Meshanana gate is located on the North-Western border of the Amboseli national park. It’s the closest gate from the Namanga border when driving through Nairobi-Arusha road. It’s very closed to Lake Amboseli which is a key drainer of the park.