Amboseli national park
Amboseli national park is second popular national park in Kenya after Masai Mara national reserve located in Kajiado County in the Kajiado South Constituency, the park is a great ecosystem covering an area of 392 square kilometers stretching across the border of Kenya and Tanzania. Amboseli national park was formerly known as Masai Amboseli game reserve and it is set on the foot of mountain Kilimanjaro standing at the altitude of 5895meters, the park is famous for the backdrop of the snowcapped mountain Kilimanjaro and hosting a large population of elephants.
Amboseli national park experiences poor vegetation regeneration because the area is situated in the lee ward side of mountain Kilimanjaro and has saline soils which do not support vegetation growth, the park is dominated by acacia woodland rocky thorny, swamps and marshlands.
History of Amboseli national park
The area today known as Amboseli national park was originally occupied by the hostile Masai tribal people who are one of the most known harsh tribes in East Africa, this region was known as Empusel meaning salty dusty place in Maa language. In 1883 the area received its first European and upon his arrival he was astonished by the wildlife, Amboseli dry lake, swamps and the views of mountain Kilimanjaro. In 1906 the area gazetted as southern reserve for the Masai, in 1984 the area was already gazetted as a game reserve and as pt under the leadership of the local people. To ultimately protect the ecosystem the area was upgraded to a national park in 1974 and in 1991 the area was declared a UNESCO site.
Amboseli national park‘s administration shifted from Kenya Wildlife Society to Olekejuado county council and the Masai local community on 29th September 2005 under the directives of the then president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki
Tourist attractions in Amboseli national park
Lake Amboseli in Amboseli national park is a dried-up Pleistocene lake lieing in the northwest of Sinet Delta, lake is usually dry but in rainy season it gets filled up with sporadic floods and noxious salts in the lake bed. The lake is usually crowded by many animals and birds.
Sinet Delta in Amboseli national park is an excellent bird watching site in the park where you get spot numerous bird species, the delta is crossed by the northern route originating from the Observation hill and dominated by thicker vegetation in the south which habits giraffes. Sinet Delta offers uninterrupted views of snowcapped mountain Kilimanjaro.
Swamp and spring
Amboseli national park consists of a swamp and which are permanent water sources to the park fed by underground rivers from Mountain Kilimanjaro, these swamps that is Olokenya, Enkongo Narok and Oltukai are situated below the observation hills and it is a habitat to a number of wildlife species such as elephants, buffaloes, hippos and bird species like pelicans, Egyptian goose and many more.
Observation hill also known as Normatior in Amboseli national park is a view point providing a perfect spot to view the park and its animals, this view point is a pyramid-shaped hill and at this site you get views of snow capped mountain Kilimanjaro from the south and swamps from the East.
Views of mountain Kilimanjaro
Amboseli national park is gifted with a backdrop of the beautiful and scenic mountain Kilimanjaro, mountain Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano and the highest free standing mountain in Africa at the elevation of 5,895 meters above the sea level. Mountain Kilimanjaro has a snowcapped peak which is viewed from the Amboseli national park.
Amboseli national park is a remarkable habitat for wildlife with over 50 large species, the park is famous for hosting large population of elephants and the big five species. Animals found in Amboseli national park include elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino, jackals, caracal, serval cat, bush baby, baboons, aardwolf, duikers, fringed-eared, waterbuck, Masai giraffe, blue wildebeests, spotted hyena, zebras, gnu, gazelles and many more.
Amboseli national park is a habitat to a large population of bird species with 420 recorded bird species including water birds such as egrets, herons, pelicans and crowned cranes. The park also habits ground birds, localized species and large population of flamingoes in the wet season in the periods of March to May and October to December. Birds in Amboseli national park include African swamp hen, common redshank, Dickinson’s kestrel, Eurasian thick-knee, greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, long-toed lapwing, pangani long claw, Rufous-bellied heron, spike-heeled lark, steel-blue whydah, Taveta golden weaver, von der decken’s hornbill, yellow-necked spur fowl and many more.
Park activities in Amboseli national park
Amboseli national park offers some of the best game viewing opportunities in Kenya, the park is a home to many animals living in the beautiful landscape of the park with big individuals of elephants as the main highlight of the park. Game viewing safari in Amboseli national park is done on a drive using trails running through the park, this drive is an opportunity for tourist to spot many animals such as elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino, jackals, caracal, serval cat, bush baby, baboons, aardwolf, duikers, fringed-eared, waterbuck, Masai giraffe, blue wildebeests, spotted hyena, zebras, gnu, gazelles and many more. The best sites of viewing animals in Amboseli national park are swamps that are Olokenya, Enkongo Narok and Oltukai and the observation hill.
Amboseli national park is listed among the top birding watching sites in Kenya and considering the fact that the park hosts over 400 birds species it makes a paradise for birding interested tourists, on the birding experience many bird species are spotted such as African swamp hen, common redshank, Dickinson’s kestrel, Eurasian thick-knee, greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, long-toed lapwing, pangani long claw, Rufous-bellied heron, spike-heeled lark, steel-blue whydah and many more. The best sites to spot birds in Amboseli national park are the swamps which mostly habit water birds, the best time to do bird watching in Amboseli national park is in the period of November to April when migratory bird species are present joining the resident bird species.
Hot air balloon safaris
Hot air balloon safaris Amboseli national park is an incredible safari experience offering aerial views of the park, this safari experience is done is a balloon ride of 80 minutes starting in the morning and it is the best opportunity for enjoying the scenic views of the snowcapped mountain Kilimanjaro. From the balloon high in the sky you get aerial views of the animals such as large herds of elephants, leopards, lions, wildebeests and many more.
Cultural safaris in Amboseli national park are done in the Masai local community situated along the borders of Amboseli national park, the Masai people are the early inhabitants of area occupied by Amboseli national. in process of declaring the area as a national they were forced out of the area, Masai people posses the most unique and authentic African culture, traditions and norms. visiting the Masai community is an opportunity for knowing more about the local people, eating local foods, participating in local activities like rearing cattle and be entertained by local music and dances.
Accommodation in Amboseli national park
In Amboseli national park accommodation to tourists visiting the park for a safari is got from various facilities which are determined to offer a home to the tourists while on the safari, accommodation facilities vary in status and they include luxury, midrange and Budget. Accommodation facilities in Amboseli national park include
KWS Self catering facilities such as Kilimanjaro Guest house, Simba cottages and Chui cottages
Campsites that is Amboseli campsite
Privately owned Lodges such as Oltukai lodge, Amboseli Serena lodge, Tortilis Tented lodge, Amboseli Sopa lodge, Amboseli Sentrim lodge, Amboseli AA lodge, Amboseli Eco lodge, Amboseli Kimana camp, Amboseli Kibo safari camp and many more.
How to get to Amboseli national park
Amboseli national park is situated in Kajiando district in a distance of 238 kilometers from Nairobi, the park is very accessible from most of the cities in Kenya such as Nairobi and Mombasa using both road and air means of transport. By use of road the park is reached using various routes such as Nairobi-Namanga route via Meshanani gate, Nairobi-Mombasa route via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) gate.
By using air means of transport domestic chartered flights are offered from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport and Mombasa’s Moi Airport to numerous airstrips situated at Empusel gate, Kilimanjaro Buffalo lodge and Namanga town.