Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park, at the foot of Africa’s highest mountain, 5895m Kilimanjaro, is one of Kenya’s most popular parks. It lies some 240kms. South-east of Nairobi very close to the Tanzania border. The snow capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rising above a saucer of clouds dominates every aspect of Amboseli. Gazetted as a national park in 1974 it covers only 392 sq kms but despite its small size and its fragile ecosystem it supports a wide range of mammals (well over 50 of the larger species) and birds (over 400 species).
Years ago, Amboseli was the locale around which such famous writers as Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark spun their stories of big game hunting in the wilds of Africa. It is also the home of the Maasai people, those tall, proud nomads whose legendary prowess in battle and single handed acts of bravery in fights with wild animals has spread across the globe. The Maasai have learned to live in complete harmony with their environment and the wildlife which surrounds them.
A part of Amboseli National Park is composed of a dried-up lake bed which in the shimmering heat produces mirages. Swamps and springs, fed by underground rivers from Kilimanjaro’s melting snows, form permanent watering places for wildlife throughout times of drought. The lake bed is subject to sporadic floods and noxious salts in the gravel bed are dissolved to serve as a deadly poison for what is left of the local woods; very few of the fine acacias, once a feature of this region, remain.
The snows of Kilimanjaro, white and crystalline, form a majestic backdrop to one of Kenya’s most spectacular displays of wildlife – lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, cheetah, buffalo and hosts of plains’ game, creating Kenya’s most sought after photographer’s paradise. But the Park’s popularity is also causing serious concern. The combination of wildlife, tourist vehicles and Maasai cattle are destroying the delicate but precious grassland. Park rules now insist that vehicles stick to roads and tracks. The Park’s best game runs are around swamps and there is a fine lookout on Observation Hill which offers views over the whole of the Park and beyond.
Access: 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 Emali (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 aircrafts at Empusel gate. Other airstrips exist at Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge and Namanga town PARK GATES: Kulunyiet Gate Meshanani Gate Kitirua Gate Iremito Gate Airstrip Gate
SIZE / LOCATION 390.26 Km2 Loitoktok District, Rift Valley Province CLIMATE: Temperature ranges from 20-30 c and rainfall from 200mm – 700 mm Two rain seasons: Long rains – March & April & short rains – Nov/ December SAFARI CARD REQUIRED Entry is by Safari card only. Safari card may be obtained and loaded at any KWS Safaricard office or at the Meshanani Gate. Proof of identification will be required. Citizens – Valid Passport or National ID Residents – Valid Passport & re entry pass MAJOR ATTRACTIONS Large Herds of Elephants Mt. Kilimanjaro Big Five Observation Hill which allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants, Swamp below observation hill hosts many elephants, buffaloes, hippos and a variety of water fowls like pelican, Egyptian goose Contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous lifestyle WILDLIFE: Leopard, Cheetah, Wild dogs, Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Lion, Plains Game, Crocodile, Mongoose, Hyrax, Dik- dik, Lesser Kudu, and Nocturnal Porcupine Prolific birdlife features 600 species WHERE TO STAY: In – Park Accommodation Amboseli Serena Accommodatio Sopa Amboseli Accommodation Kenya Oltukai Lodge Tortilis Camp Amboseli Accommodation KWS Self – Catering Accommodation: Kilimanjaro Guest house Kibo Guest House Simba Bandas Nyati Bandas Chui Bandas Camping Facilities Ol-Kilnyiet Public Campsite near Amboseli Park Headquarters ACTIVITY OPTIONS Game viewing Camping Viewing Mt. Kilimanjaro Bird watching Photography WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU Drinking water, picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight. Also useful are: binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and guidebooks