Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, the Amboseli National Parks is one of Kenya’s most popular parks. The name “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. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands. They can also visit the local Maasai community who live around the park and experience their authentic culture.
Elephant Research Camp: The elephants of Amboseli are among the most studied in the world, thanks largely to the work of Dr Cynthia Moss, whose books include The Amboseli Elephants and Elephant Memories; she was also behind the famous documentary DVD Echo of the Elephants. The research camp remains in operation in the heart of the park, under the guidance of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Normatior (Observation Hill): This pyramid-shaped hill is one of the only places in the park where you can get out and walk. The summit provides an ideal lookout from which to orientate yourself to the plains, swamps and roads below. The views from here are also pretty special, whether south to Kilimanjaro or east across the swamps. Wildlife is generally a fair way off, but the views here put them in their context.
Wildlife: Amboseli is one of Kenya’s most popular parks, and offers great wildlife viewing. The park is famous for its elephants, but most big safari animals can be spotted here. The black rhino has, unfortunately, become extinct, but four of the other Big Five are present. The plains support an abundance of large herbivores including wildebeest, Burchell’s zebra and Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle. Masai giraffe and impala can usually be found browsing from stands of acacia trees.
Getting There: Amboseli is located 365km/226mi southeast of Nairobi. Self-drive from Nairobi to the reserve is a good option if you already have wheels (or if you hire a car). You can also drive from other parks if you’re doing a road trip around the country. The distance from Tsavo East or Tsavo West is about 460km/285mi and the driving time is about eight hours.
Taking one of the daily scheduled flights from Nairobi to Amboseli’s airstrip is another option.
Nairobi is a popular entry point into Kenya (and East Africa), as it’s the largest transport hub in this part of Africa, giving visitors plenty of onward travel options. The major airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), is located 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi. The country’s second international airport is Moi International Airport (MBA) and is 9km/6mi west of Mombasa.
Where To Stay: Mid-range Safari Tier 2 accommodations, such as Satao Elerai offers 17 cottages and tented suites. The camp is co-owned in partnership with the Maasai, so you are completely enveloped in one of Africa’s greatest cultures.
The camp is also set on the side of a hill in a private, exclusive conservancy bordering the national park, so can you enjoy breathtaking views of expansive savannah plains and Mount Kilimanjaro. Also rated as a Tier 2, Amboseli Serena Lodge has a prime location inside the park border while Porini Amboseli Camp is set in the distant Selenkay Conservancy outside Amboseli National Park offering off-beat, authentic wildlife and cultural experience.