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Some call Amboseli National Park an elitist, but there is nothing snobby about the second-best national park of Kenya. Sure, it’s popular and it loves all that attention, but there’s a reason behind its huge fan following. After all, where else would you get to see mammoth tuskers against a backdrop of the gorgeous Mount Kilimanjaro! The highest peak of Africa loves to stay hidden from your view for most of the day, but those who take the effort to wake up at dawn are usually rewarded with the clearest of views of the elusive mountain peak.
Located at a distance of 200 kms. to the southeast of Nairobi, Amboseli National Park is a compact national park that stretches over just 293 sq. kms. and presents grassy plains and scrubby vegetation all around. The park’s animal population isn’t as extensive as some national parks of Africa, but the small size and open areas ensure that game drives and nature walks are always a fun and very good experience.
Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the biggest charms of Amboseli National Park, but it doesn’t pale out in terms of its flora or fauna either. Elephants are the biggest charm here. It is common to find huge herds drinking water from surface springs. The big bulls of these herds also have some of the largest tusks in Africa.
The park is home to as many as 370 species of birds and you can expect guaranteed sightings of zebras, wildebeest and elephants. Other animals found in the park include the spotted hyena, lion, cheetah, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, impala, jackal, serval cat and the leopard.
- Wildlife Rating: 5 stars out of 5
- Scenery Rating: 5 stars out of 5
- Bush Vibe: 4 stars out of 5
Amboseli National Park is surrounded by a number of ranch areas where the Maasai people share their lands with the local wildlife. Wild animals tend to avoid these areas as cattle-grazing means that there is hardly enough grass to attract herbivores and the predators have far better options than confronting hundreds of villagers. However, this also means that you get to enjoy a delightful cultural visit while in Amboseli National Park. Most local lodges offer village tours which let you explore the ancient Maasai culture and learn more about their customs and traditions.
- Altitude: 1,189 to 1,372 meters
- Number of Visitors: 200,000
- Breathtaking views of Mt. Kilimanjaro
- Home to some of the largest tuskers on the planet
- Excellent elephant sightings
- Cultural interactions with the Maasai
- Malarial area
Those visiting Amboseli National Park can choose from luxury game lodges as well as tented safari camps. There are a number of options to suit all budgets and tastes. Some of the top camps and lodges at the Amboseli National Park include Tortilis Camp, Porini Amboseli Camp and Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge.
The best time to visit Amboseli National Park is between the months of July to October. The weather is warm and dry and this makes for comfortable game viewing. The months of April to June are best avoided as this coincides with the wet season, making things very difficult for travelers.
Amboseli’s compact size makes it possible to see everything within a couple of days, and its proximity to the Mara allows it to find its way into most Kenyan itineraries. Tourists wanting to extend their stay can always add the following options into their itineraries.
- Chyulu Hills National Park: If the thought of having the great Mt. Kilimanjaro as a backdrop excites you, wait till you visit the Chyulu National Park, home to ancient volcanic hills that present even better views of the mountain. The park is a small conservation area that is home to a number of antelope species, leopards, elephants and buffalo's, and its biggest highlight is that it is avoided by most tourists visiting Kenya.
- Maasai Mara National Reserve: The Mara really needs no introduction. As one of the top two national parks in East Africa, Maasai Mara is always exciting and always full of tourists.