A long-standing highlight of Kenya’s safari circuit, 392 km2 Amboseli National Park was set aside as a wildlife reserve in 1899 and made a national park in 1974. Renowned for its high density of elephants, the park forms the unfenced core of an 8,000 km2 ecosystem that includes large tracts of Maasai community land both in Kenya and across the border in Tanzania.
It was amazing to see so many wild animals and unique birds in one location. We enjoyed every moment of our early morning and late afternoon games drives. It seemed that we encountered one species after another for the entire drive. Awesome!
Amboseli lies at the northern base of Kilimanjaro and, clouds permitting, it offers tremendous opportunity to photograph plains wildlife below the snow-capped peak of Africa’s tallest mountain. Kilimanjaro stands within Tanzania, but the finest views of it are to be had from Amboseli. For much of the day, the volcanically-formed mountain is rendered invisible by a shroud of clouds, but this usually lifts at dusk and dawn to reveal the iconic snow-capped peak rising a full 5 km above the dusty plains in all its breathtaking glory. This is the ideal destination for a first safari in Kenya.
Wildlife to look forward to
Iconic species include the beloved Amboseli elephants and the towering giraffe (seen in many photographs of the region) as well as plenty of unique bird species, sure to captivate the keen birdwatcher.
Look out for the unusual gerenuk antelope, wildebeest, lion, zebra, hippo, hyena and sometimes cheetah and leopard.
Bird species to tick off your list include the secretary-bird, Yellow-necked spurfowl, rosy-patched bushshrike, steel-blue whydah and the localised Pangani longclaw. Water-loving birds such as the long-toed lapwing, painted snipe, great white pelican and grey crowned-crane are but some species on offer.
The Steel-blue whydah by Ken Zaremba
The ability to drive off-road in Amboseli allows for better game viewing.
What type of traveller would enjoy Amboseli?
Amboseli is a great destination for family travel or those looking to extend their African safari with a journey to Tanzania, which lies in close proximity to the park. First time travellers will also enjoy Amboseli as well as those honeymooners who want to include a stay here after their Great Migration safari.
Try this exciting, all-in-one East Africa combo safari or use as a base to tailor-make your own
Where to stay:
Keep your overall safari costs low by choosing accommodation that suits you. We’ll gladly recommend and put together a suitable itinerary for you.
Porini Amboseli Camp
This award-winning safari camp is set in the Amboseli eco-system within the exclusive Selenkay Conservancy; an important wildlife dispersal area for wildlife moving out of Amboseli National Park. The private conservation area ensures the best possible game viewing in proper off-road safari vehicles, off the beaten track and away from other tourist vans and minibuses.
The camp only has nine tents available, so booking ahead is essential.
When to go to Amboseli
January and February are great for lush, green landscapes and the multitude of newborn animals that are born during this time. However, the best game viewing is between June and October.
- It is also possible to fly in to Amboseli from the Nairobi, Mombasa and the Masai Mara.
- Well worth a visit is the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, a trust developed for the conservation of the local elephant population through scientific research and localised-support.
- If you’d like to see Mount Kilimanjaro in the background at Amboseli, avoid the rainy season (heaviest during March, April and May) as the clouds obscure the mountain.
- Observation Hill is a must-visit for panoramic views of the surrounds
Panoramic views from Observation Hill | Credit: Helen in Wanderlust
- We recommend a short stay of two to three days in the park in conjunction with an extended safari to the Kenyan coast, or to Tanzania’s northern safari circuit