Amboseli National Park

Amboseli is a fairly small National Park of 392 square kilometers, originally opened in 1948. It is however, amazingly rich is both flora and fauna. Amboseli is a designated International Bio-sphere reserve and is the home of a large number of world famous researchers, especially with regard to elephant.

Amboseli, meaning "Salty Dust" in the Masai language is an important rangeland in the Masai culture. The area surrounding the park is made up of Masai ranch areas, which offer a wide variety of game viewing and walking safari options, not found within the park itself.

The 'salty dust' is volcanic ash from Mount Kilimanjaro eruptions a millennium ago. The dry, arid plains covered by this dust form heat wave mirages in the dry season. Endless herds of animals seem to waver in the distance, interrupted only by the real herds of zebra and wildebeest hovering in front.

This arid landscape belies the reality, as Amboseli has an endless water supply from the ice caps of Kilimanjaro. This water forms two clear water springs in the middle of the park that provide a permanent water supply, even in drought.

Amboseli is probably most famous for its photographs of elephant with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. The mountain is situated on the boundary of the park and Amboseli is certainly one of the finest locations for mountain spotting with Mount Meru also being seen with ease.

The elephant themselves are of course a major attraction in Amboseli. The bull elephant here have some of the largest tusks in Kenya. Cynthia Moss and her assistants have followed and studied these elephant for over 20 years, providing some of the most detailed knowledge of these magnificent animals available.

The elephant are generally found in larger herds than most other areas and are quite habituated to people, allowing excellent photography, even for us amateurs!

Most of the cat species, including leopard, lion, cheetah and caracal may be easily seen in Amboseli, as are the plains antelope and migrating wildebeest.

Amboseli is one of the most popular parks in Kenya as it provides excellent animal viewing throughout the year, stunning landscapes and an excellent selection of lodges and camps.

© Melinda Rees of Best of Kenya