Amboseli national park, a safari heaven

Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, is a national park in Kajiado South Constituency in Kajiado County, Kenya. A scenic park in its own right, Amboseli is synonymous with two particular things – majestic herds of elephant and glorious views of Mount Kilimanjaro in neighbouring Tanzania.

Kenya’s second most popular national park after the Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli was declared a UNESCO-Mab Biosphere Reserve in 1991.

Ol Donyo lodge in Amboseli national park

During heavy rains, the basin at the centre of the park floods, attracting hordes of wildlife. The reserve is an excellent place to view the Big Five, as well as lesser known and rarer wildlife species.

The park is famous for being the best place in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet Maasai and visit a Maasai village. The park also has views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

The park is 39,206 hectares (392 km2; 151 sq mi) in size at the core of an 8,000 km2 (3,100 sq mi) ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture along the system of swamps that makes this low-rainfall area, average 350 mm (14 in), one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world with 400 species of birds including water birds like pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, hamerkop and 47 raptor species.

Free-range Elephants roaming in the park

The park protects two of the five main swamps, and includes a dried-up Pleistocene lake and semiarid vegetation.

About 240 km (150 mi) southeast of Nairobi, Amboseli National Park is the second-most popular national park in Kenya after Maasai Mara National Reserve.

The park is famous for being the best place in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet Maasai and visit a Maasai village. The park also has views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

Amboseli was home to Echo, perhaps the most researched elephant in the world, and the subject of many books and documentaries, followed for almost four decades by American conservationist Dr. Cynthia Moss. Echo died in 2009 when she was about 60 years old.

Dr. Cynthia Moss in the park

Amboseli National Park offers some of the best opportunities to see African wildlife because the vegetation is sparse due to the long, dry months. The protected area is home to African bush elephantCape buffaloimpalalioncheetahspotted hyenaMasai giraffeGrant’s zebra, and blue wildebeest. A host of large and small birds occur too.

The park has several rules to protect the wildlife: Never leave the vehicle, except at designated spots; do not harass the animals in any way; always keep to the tracks; no off-road driving; and always give the animals the right of way. The roads in Amboseli have a loose surface of volcanic soil that is dusty in the dry season and impassable in the wet season.

history

In 1883, Jeremy Thompson was the first European to penetrate the feared Maasai region known as Empusel (meaning ‘salty, dusty place’ in Maa). He, too, was astonished by the fantastic array of wildlife and the contrast between the arid areas of the dry lake bed and the oasis of the swamps, a contrast that persists today.

Amboseli was set aside as the Southern Reserve for the Maasai in 1906, but returned to local control as a game reserve in 1948. Gazetted a national park in 1974 to protect the core of this unique ecosystem, it was declared a UNESCO site in 1991. The park earned $3.5 m (€2.9 m) in 2005. On 29 September 2005, former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared that control of the park should pass from the Kenya Wildlife Service to the Olkejuado County Council and the Maasai tribe. Some observers saw this as a political favour in advance of a vote on a new Kenyan constitution; legal challenges are currently in court. The degazetting would divert park admission fees directly to the county council with shared benefits to the Maasai immediately surrounding the park.

OL Donyo in Amboseli national park

Things to enjoy in the park

1 .Wildlife Viewing

The landscape of the Amboseli National Park offers the most scenic views of wildlife.  The Amboseli is like a gigantic bowl of vast vegetation cover and numerous swamps that harbor wild animals of disparate species from the Big Five to unique birds such as, peacocks and spotty zebras.

2. A cultural visit to the local villages

The local communities living around the Amboseli national park are a unique ethnic group in East Africa. The Maasai community is known for its traditional culture that has not been affected by modernization of the African continent. They lead a tribal way of life, which is worth exploring especially their traditional dances and clothing.

3. Go on an epic Game Drive

Going on a game drive in the Amboseli is more than just landscape viewing and encountering animals. The Amboseli is a unique formation of nature that is most dry and covered by dust from recurrent winds, which create a “dust devil” phenomenon. This happens from time to time depending on the changes in atmospheric pressure to build a mini-twister like impression in the air.

However, as much it is enjoyable to watch, keep safe distance from it since it uncomfortable on the skin.

Game drives in the Amboseli also provide a truly refreshing encounter of watching the sunrise and sunset in exceptional hues of color change over the horizons.

evening drives

4. Nature photography

The Amboseli National Park is probably Africa’s irrefutable background of scenic brilliance. The beautiful scene of the ice-capped Mount Kilimanjaro; which is the highest mountain in the African continent- provides the perfect backdrop for nature photography.

Make sure you carry a standard camera and back up storage cards to capture the beauty of nature and carry those moments with you! The Amboseli is absolutely the embodiment of the African jungle which can be compared to the prairies of the Americas.

Accommodation in the park

The Amboseli National Park is definitely worth visitingIt has some of the same attractions as some of the other popular national parks in Kenya but its unique safari experience and great diversity make Amboseli a National Park in Kenya that is absolutely worth visiting.

Source: https://www.andbeyond.com and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

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