The Amboseli National Park is undoubtedly Kenya’s best destination for an all-round park experience. It’s ideal for a basic family outing or a bonding session on the weekend or during the holidays. The park is also perfect for an educational school trip, with a wide range of wild animals and birds. On another level, modern-day corporate team-building sessions would find a perfect setting in Amboseli National Park, with a long list of possible activities.
Interesting Facts About Amboseli National Park
This park has a rich Maasai cultural history especially the origin of its unique name. The name ‘Amboseli’ is derived from native Maasai speak for ‘salty dust’. It’s humongous: covering an incredible 390.26 sq. Km. spanning five different habitats and their varied wildlife occupancy – dried up bed of Lake Amboseli, the savannah, wetlands with sulphur springs and the woodlands.
The climate is generally warm, with temperature ranges from 20-30c with moderate rainfall between 200mm – 700mm. The park enjoys two rain seasons with the short season in November to December. The long rains fall between March and May.
In addition, the authentic Maasai community offer a native cultural experience. It’s a wonder how this community blends so naturally with wild animals in their natural habitats with almost-zero cases of conflict.
Amboseli National Park’s Main Attractions
- Mt. Kilimanjaro: Africa’s highest peak offers a perfect backdrop to a vast rolling landscape. In fair weather, this feature is seen in all its glory from every inch of the park. The glistening snow at its peak is the source of several rivers and rivulets that run through the park.
- Elephants live and graze in herds comprising of several families. This is vital for survival, especially for their calves.
- Observation Hill: This is a special elevation point in the park that allows a unique park viewing experience. The view is an amazing 360-degree-view covering the entire Savanna and the swamps. The elephant herds can be easily followed from this point.
- The Big Five roam naturally in Amboseli National Park. The cat family – the lions, the leopards and the cheetah hunt for their cubs, wary of the other two members – the buffaloes and the elephants.
- The Swamp is just below The Observation Hill, and it teems with wildlife seeking water. Elephants, buffaloes and water-loving hippos. In addition, its very conducive environment for a wide variety of water fowls like the pelican and the Egyptian goose.
- The Maasai culture shall always be fascinating in its nativity. The locals have over generations cultivated a symbiotic relationship with the wildlife. This is a community that still upholds their culture, and often holds festivals to celebrate it. Though the tribe is often branded as warlike, it allows a pleasant mingling with the visitors.
Things to Do at Amboseli National Park
An array of award-winning wildlife documentaries and research-based photography has been ongoing at Amboseli National Park. Besides, hobby-photography is allowed and encouraged in the park. This is the key for families bonding and making life-long memories at the park.
The Observation Hill is the ultimate point for viewing. Armed with a powerful pair of binoculars, a lot of wildlife activity can be followed from this point.
The Amboseli National Park offers a bird watcher’s paradise to visitors with a passion for birds. The five different habitats present a wide variety. There are water birds in the swamps and on the seasonal Amboseli Lake. There are birds that live in the dry Savannah, and birds that habit the woodlands.
This is a trend that’s increasingly becoming popular for fitness conscious people aiming for better health. What’s better way to combine exercise and fun, than hike in a national park? Amboseli National Park offers serene, quiet nature trails ideal for hiking. Other than individual hikes, the trails are perfect for corporate team-building exercises, family bonding sessions and school trips. KWS personnel offers advice on appropriate and safe routes to use. Security is also offered by KWS rangers at no extra cost.
Well, if have never spent a night outdoors, with only a flimsy tent between you and roaming dangers of the night, you haven’t experienced the adrenaline-filled joys of camping. This is an experience on offer at Amboseli National Park with perfect camping grounds and professional assistance available.
Kenya Wildlife Service Self-Catering Options
This is an exciting accommodation package offered by the Kenya Wildlife Service. They are tastefully built cottages with naturally available materials where families are allowed to cater for their stay themselves. They are fitted with all basic necessities – power, kitchen and bathroom with modern fittings, premium lounging and, of course, entertainment features.
At Amboseli National Park, there’s a choice of three KWS cottages:
- Kilimanjaro Guest House
- Simba cottages
- Chui Cottages
Due to the diverse crowd that frequents the park, there has arisen need for executive, world-class accommodation. In that regard, several market leaders in the hospitality sector has pitched tent at Amboseli. A visitor has several options, according to personal needs and preferences:
- Amboseli serena Lodge
- Oltukai Lodge
- Tortilis Tented Lodge
Campsites in the Park
The park offers special areas designated for campers, and at really good rates. For a visitor to the park without personal camping gear, KWS offers premium camping gear for hire at the grounds. Tents in all sizes and sleeping bags.
Amboseli Campsite is an exciting feature available for the daring and adventurous traveller. A lot of urban dwellers have the chance of a lifetime to experience bush camping and re-live nostalgic memories of their days as Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
What times does Amboseli National Park open gates?
The park is open daily, all year round, including public and religious holidays. The gates open at 0600hrs EAT and close at 1900hrs EAT. It’s important to note visitors aren’t allowed entry past 1815hrs.for obvious reasons, too, no entry on foot is allowed. There is real danger of getting mauled.
What to Carry
This largely depends on the your preference and special needs. Other than basic items like appropriate clothing for different weather patterns, the choice also depends on the choice of activity at the park. Game viewing fans would require binoculars.
Hiking enthusiasts have a necessity for appropriate sports clothing. Visitors with a preference for camping can either bring along their own camping gear, or be open to hiring the equipment at the camping grounds. All of these would require a camera to capture their moments in the park.
This a protected area type, ‘national park’ class and is ran by the government through the parastatal – Kenya Wildlife Service. Park entry fees are thus pocket-friendly, and may vary from time to time. There are different fees packages ranging from citizens, resident non-citizens, foreigners and East Africans. Children also enjoy revised rates.
The modes of payment are flexible, too. At each park gate, visitors can conveniently pay via M-Pesa, Visa cards or direct deposits to Kenya Wildlife Service bank accounts. The attentive attendants at the gates readily guide visitors on the entry process.
How to get there
There are several choices to reach this park.
For visitors wishing to reach the park by air – whether chartered or routine flights by air companies, the park has a single airstrip at Empusel Gate. Alternative airstrips are available at Kilimanjaro Buffalo lodge and Namanga town.
This is the most interesting option, the allure of a long drive on the open roads is irresistible. The main road into Amboseli National Park is from Nairobi via Namanga, just 240km on the Nairobi-Arusha Road which leads to Meshanani Gate. Alternatively, from Nairobi via Email, at 228km, off Nairobi-Mombasa Road. Visitors approaching from the coastal direction, enjoy an easy access through Tsavo West National Park via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate.