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Often called the ‘Land of Giants’, situated southeast of Nairobi, Amboseli is home to some of the most majestic creatures living on this planet. Want to get a closer look at free-ranging African bull elephants? Amboseli National Park should be at the top of your list. The park embodies five different natural habitats ranging from savannah and grassland plains, to swamps, dry lake beds and acacia woodlands. Surmounted by the great Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli is surely every nature lover’s paradise. Pay a visit to this beguiling park early in the morning and you will be welcomed by an enchanting view of the beautiful Mount Kilimanjaro that stands in the background. This place allows you to experience the thrill of the Kilimanjaro safari without having to go to Tanzania. Amboseli is a magical land filled with beautiful African sunsets and magical creatures which will mesmerize you in the most delightful of ways and leave you spellbound.
Nearest airport: local airstrips at Amboseli. JKIA is the nearest international airport .
How to reach: from Nairobi by road or flight
Famous for: African Elephants, views of the Kilimanjaro, birding destination
Months open: All year
Best time to Visit: June to Sept; Jan to mid-Mar
Large herd of African Elephants
Over 600 bird species
5 different habitats
In 1883, Jeremy Thompson became the first European to enter this feared region of the Maasai (the local people) known as Empusel which means 'salty, dusty place'. He was amazed by the magical array of wildlife and the wide range of habitats present here ranging from the dry lake bed to the oasis of the swamps which are present even today. The Amboseli National Park was established in 1968 as a natural reserve. It got the title of a National Park in 1974. This park was declared a UNESCO site in 1991.
The thickets of acacia trees, the rock formations covered with thorny bushes, the tall palm trees, the dusty plains of open savannah and the lakes and marshes are all enclosed within this park and add to its beauty. These habitats host a wide variety of mesmerizing creatures and are every photographer’s paradise.
Wildlife and birds:
A safari at Amboseli will allow you to feast your eyes upon the animals with the beautiful Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. Thus, this safari can also be called a Kilimanjaro safari. The main attractions of the park are the large herds of elephants. You can watch the African bull elephants amble past you and you will surely have a good time. These magnificent animals can be spotted foraging in the swamps. The park is also home to species of cape buffalo, impala, lion, cheetah, spotted hyena, Masai giraffe, Grevy’s and Burchell's zebra, wild dog, and blue wildebeest. The Black Rhino may have become extinct here but the other four of the big five thrive here. Amboseli is also a great birding destination as it houses more than 600 species of birds. The swamps are home to egrets, herons, pelicans and crowned cranes while the grasslands harbor Hartlaub’s bustard and the Pangani longclaw.
Coming from the nearby Mount Kilimanjaro, some rivers run under this park bathing it in their magnificent hues of blue. These waters feed the springs and lush green ponds, present in the park. The animals of the park thrive on these waters during the dry season. These waters also permit the survival of the acacia forests and the palm trees in the park.
With the Kilimanjaro as a backdrop and the elephants surrounding you, who wouldn’t want to take home beautiful photographs filled with delightful memories? This is a magical experience.
The African sunset is an exotic beauty that bathes the endless savannah in myriad shades of gold giving it the fairytale look. The horizon extends endlessly and silhouettes all the magic of this place in gleaming shades of black.
As a part of your vacation, you can pay a visit to the people of the Maasai village and become familiar with their culture and tradition. A wide range of hues will surround you as soon as you enter this village. The bright shukas or sheets and the colorful beads of jewelry add to their display of color. You can even be a part of the adumu or “jumping dance” that is performed by the villagers.
How to reach:
Amboseli National Park is quite accessible and you can easily get there by flight or by road. The Park has airstrips for aircraft which are located at Empusel gate, Namanga town, and Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge. Self-drive from Nairobi via Namanga to the reserve is also a good option.
Where to stay:
Amboseli has a wide range of accommodation to suit everyone’s budget and interests. If you want to admire the antics of the African bull elephant while relaxing in your hotel, Ol Tukai and Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge should be at the top of your list. Ol Tukai will make your stay a pleasant one with its comfortable rooms and scenic views of Mount Kilimanjaro. You can also have a look at the beautiful African art and get yourself acquainted with the culture of Africa. With its Maasai- inspired design and garden restaurant, the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge is a graceful place that promises to satisfy every need of an avid traveler. You can revel in the splendor of Mount Kilimanjaro from this lodge and witness its panoramic beauty. These hotels will surely provide you with the best of their services and will make your stay extremely pleasant.