Amboseli National Park has been featured on the blog a couple of times. My friend Ratia wrote about her trip here and later Dave of CookSipGo  showed us the birds of Amboseli.

Amboseli National Park Elephant with Kilimanjaro in background

 

So here’s is my account an amazing, magical and memorable trip to the Amboseli National Park courtesy of the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge .

Amboseli National Park park gate

 

Amboseli National Park sign at gate

 

The name Amboseli comes from the Maasai place name, Empusel, meaning salty dust. Amboseli is a small National Park, measuring only 392 km2    The park straddles southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, and is amongst the richest wildlife areas in Africa. The area covered by Amboseli is a fragile ecosystem that is internationally recognized as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve because of the ecosystem’s significance as an example of an area that fulfils conservation, research and development functions.

Amboseli National Park Maasai

 

Second in popularity after the legendary Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park not only offers great game viewing but it’s also the place to go for the best views of iconic Mount Kilimanjaro. The world’s tallest free-standing mountain actually stands just across the border in Tanzania, but Amboseli has a postcard-perfect view of its snow-capped peaks, rising almost six vertical kilometres above the savannah. A while back Kenya was accused by Tanzania’s tourist industry of trying to hoodwink tourists into thinking Africa’s highest mountain is in Kenya rather than Tanzania. Kenya has no claim to Mt. Kilimanjaro but there is a popular tale of Queen Victoria giving the mountain to Kaiser Wilhelm, her nephew as a birthday present. However, there is  no evidence that this tale is true.

Amboseli National Park Mt KilimanjaroView of Mt Kilimanjaro from Observation Hill 

 

During my one night stay in Amboseli I was able to go for 2 game drives, one in the evening and the other in the morning. Both times our driver Nathifo was amazing. She was very knowledgeable and you could tell that she is passionate about her job. It is not very common to find female drivers so I was even more excited for the game drive. It is encouraging to see women working in fields that traditionally thought to be for men.

Amboseli National Park NathifoNathifo our driver c/o  Maneno

 

Amboseli’s swamps are the life-blood of and are home to a myriad of species of animals. The most popular of these species without a doubt are the elephants. Amboseli is home to some 1,200 elephants (2011 figure) and also has the longest running study of elephant behavior in the wild, and has gathered data on life histories and association patterns for more than 1700 individual elephants – a story I’ll cover in another post.

Amboseli National Park elephants crossingPicture c/o Maneno

 

The park has a rich bird fauna, with over 400 bird species recorded, including over 40 birds of prey.

Amboseli National Park eastern chanting goshawkThe eastern (pale) chanting goshawk or Somali chanting goshawk is a bird of prey of East Africa.

 

Amboseli National Park Black CrakeThe black crake is a water bird in the rail and crake family Rallidae.

 

Amboseli National Park Superb starling

 

Amboseli National Park Ostriches 1

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The ostrich is the largest living bird species and lays the largest eggs of any living bird. There are two sub species in Kenya the one found in Amboseli is Masai ostrich its neck and thighs are pink unlike the Somali ostrich whose neck and thighs are grey blue.

Rainfall is concentrated in two rainy seasons, March-April and November-December. I visited in January just after the rainy season. The grass was green and most of the herbivores had given birth to their young as grazing was in plenty.

Amboseli National Park Zebra with calf

 

Amboseli National Park Zebras

 

Amboseli National Park Gnu with calf Blacksmith lapwing_adjGnu with calf

 

The park is a host to other herbivores too

Amboseli National Park ImpalaImpalas

Only the males have the characteristic slender, lyre-shaped horns. Impala are known for their great leaping ability, reaching heights up to 3 m (9.8 ft).

Amboseli National Park Thomson gazelleThomsons gazelles named after explorer Joseph Thomson and are the most common gazelles in East Africa.

 

Amboseli National Park bachelor herd

 

Amboseli National Park ReedbuckThe Bohor reedbuck inhabits moist grasslands and swampland’s as well as woodlands.

 

Amboseli National Park Crowned Crane

 

Amboseli National Park Gnu with Kilimanjaro in background

 

Amboseli National Park_Gnu herd

The wildebeests, also called gnus, are a genus of antelopes. The blue wildebeest is native to eastern and southern Africa and is larger than the black wildebeest.

 

Amboseli National Park Lone buffaloThe African buffalo is also known Cape buffalo. Lone males are very dangerous.

 

I have never seen a hippo in the wild out of water we were driving back to the lodge when we had to stop and give way for this one.

Amboseli National Park Hippo

 

Amboseli National Park Hippo in swamp

The name Hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse” The common hippopotamus or hippo, is a large, mostly herbivorous semi aquatic mammal .

 

Amboseli National Park BaboonThe olive baboon is named for its coat, which, at a distance, is a shade of green-grey.

 

Amboseli National Park Warthog

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The next morning we left the lodge at 6 am just in time to catch the sunrise. The early start was well worth it. The sunrise was glorious. If you are ever in Amboseli  the sunrise  should be on your must see list.

Amboseli National Park dawn

 

Amboseli National Park Sunrise

 

Amboseli National Park Sunrise1

 

Amboseli National Park Sunrise2

 

Amboseli National Park Sunrise3

 

Amboseli National Park Kilimanjaro1

 

Amboseli National Park Kilimanjaro2

 

There were lots of hyenas around that morning. They were the only predator I saw.  Spotted hyenas are usually referred to as scavengers but they hunt up to 95% of what they consume. After the sunrise we then drove to the hyena’s den. They were pretty blasé and lay basking in the sun as we watched.

Amboseli National Park Hyena

 

Amboseli National Park Hyena baskingSpotted hyenas live together in large groups called clans that may include up 80 individuals and are led by females.

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Amboseli National Park elephant in swampMelting snows and rainfall on Kilimanjaro percolate through the porous soil resulting in a series of permanent swamps.

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The game drive culminated in breakfast at Observation Hill. I wrote about that here.

Of all the parks I have ever been to Amboseli has been my favourite. You do not have to drive for miles to see any animals. I am longing to go back again, maybe next time I will spot the elusive cats.

 

How to get there:

Distance from Nairobi is approximately 270 km via Emali and 280 km via Namanga.

By road: Transfer by road from Nairobi takes approximately 4 hours.

By air: Flight time approximately 30 minutes from Wilson Airport Nairobi.

Useful info

All info on how much it costs to enter the park can be found here

Cost per game drive Kshs 4500 ($49) per person per game drive

Carry warm clothing if you intend to go for an early morning game drive. The mornings are quite chilly.

This trip was facilitated by Serena hotels as part of a media tour. 

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16 Comments

  1. March 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm — Reply

    wow!These are amazing captures.Sure you had a wonderful experience!Beautiful captures of sunrise too.

  2. March 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm — Reply

    I loved our visit to Amboseli over the summer and this brought back good memories. We unfortunately never got really clear views of Mt. Kilimanjaro from the park (we later climbed it though) but we got some amazing up close shots of four cheetahs that was such a highlight along with the large number of elephants. Magical place indeed:)

    • March 24, 2015 at 12:52 pm — Reply

      Gaaaaaah! That sounds amazing. I was really sad that I didn’t get to see any cats, maybe next time.

  3. March 22, 2015 at 4:06 pm — Reply

    Your photos instantly transported me to Kenya with memories of a wonderful holiday a few years ago, including safari in the Masai Mara. I’d love to go to Amboseli with those majestic views of Mt Kilamanjaro. Thanks for letting me dream.

    • March 24, 2015 at 12:50 pm — Reply

      Masai Mara is another of my favourites! It has been quite a while since I visited so I’ve been meaning to go back soon. They’re both amazing places.

  4. March 24, 2015 at 2:21 am — Reply

    This place is incredible. Thanks for this post – if there ever was a wanderlust inducing post, this was it. I can’t believe the view on Mount Kili and all those amazing animals. Thanks for sharing!

  5. March 24, 2015 at 1:08 pm — Reply

    Rachel! What an amazing place! I really want to go!

  6. March 24, 2015 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    WHat utterly enchanting shots of this lovely place.

    • March 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm — Reply

      Thank you Fiona.

  7. March 24, 2015 at 7:06 pm — Reply

    Can l just say again how much l kick myself for not visiting Kenya while my uncle was stationed there? I am the only one who always opted to go to summer school . What an idiot l was :-(. This place is gorgeous and your pictures are insanely beautiful!!!!!

    • March 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm — Reply

      Summer school?!! I hated it. You still have the chance to visit, maybe you’ll chance upon those glitch fares and find a really cheap flight to Nairobi.

  8. March 24, 2015 at 10:32 pm — Reply

    OMG! Being there would be my dream come true at the moment. I’m such a big fan of safari and wild animals!

  9. March 29, 2015 at 9:50 pm — Reply

    These wildlife photos are just incredible! That view of Mt. Kilimanjaro is just amazing. This just has me dreaming of a safari (my dream vacation!). One of my good friends is in Kenya right now and I can’t wait to see her photos. Thanks for this wonderful escape!

    • April 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm — Reply

      Thank you Mary. Any plans of going on your dream vacation anytime soon?I would love to know where you would pick.

  10. April 5, 2015 at 7:05 pm — Reply

    […] promised in my previous post about Amboseli  here is one dedicated to the elephants of Amboseli National […]

  11. September 19, 2015 at 11:51 am — Reply

    […] I would have loved to see some wild dogs but we didn’t spot any. I quite liked Ol Pejeta, one never had to drive for miles to spot an animal. It kind of reminded me of Amboseli. […]

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