Amboseli National Park is a national park located in the Loitoktok district in the Rift Valley province of Kenya and northwest of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Amboseli National Park was formerly a Maasai Amboseli game reserve and it is famously known for the clear magnificent view it offers of Mount Kilimanjaro which is the highest free-standing mountain with the highest peak on the African continent.
The name of the park was derived from a Masaai word known as Amboseli, which means ‘’Salty dust,’’ and it was later on nicknamed The Land of the Giants as well as branded as the Home of the African Elephant; hence, it is the best place in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants due to the vast number of Elephants it hosts and other wildlife. Amboseli National Park covers an area of 392km 2 with a large concentration of wildlife, including all members of the African Big 5.
Despite its small size, Amboseli is Kenya’s second most popular tourist destination, trailing only the famous Masai Mara National Reserve and, we add that, the perfect season to visit Amboseli is all year round.
How to get to Amboseli National Park
You can easily access Amboseli National Park by both road and air transport since there are good roads that connect directly to the park as well as an Airstrip that can be used by domestic flights.
From Nairobi, it takes approximately 4 hours to drive via A104 and C103. The main road from Nairobi via Namanga on the Nairobi-Arusha road through Meshanana gate also takes approximately 4 hours. You can also access Amboseli National park from Mombasa mainly from Tsavo National Park through Kimana (Olkelunyiet) gate, From Maasai Mara National Park, which takes approximately 2 hours.
From Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Tourists can use a domestic flight to Amboseli airstrip, which takes a few minutes. It is better to use a domestic flight from Nairobi to Amboseli airstrip as well as make a flight reservation in advance.
Gates of Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park has four gates that act as entry and exit points. All the gates can be easily accessed by road.
Meshanana Gate is located on the Northwestern border of Amboseli National Park. This gate is conveniently the closest to the Namanga border on the Nairobi-Arusha road.
This is the main gate of Amboseli National Park, which is situated at the Southwestern end of the park in a semi-arid area, the gate sits on Kitirua Hill, adjacent to the official border of Kenya and Tanzania.
Iremito gate is also a point of entrance and exit to Amboseli National Park which is located on the Eastern border though it is the less used gate.
This is the busiest gate of Amboseli National Park, located southeast of the park.
Due to long dry months and sparse vegetation, the park offers an excellent opportunity to see cape buffaloes, impala, Masai lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, Masai giraffes, plains zebras, and blue wildebeest, among other African animals, roam the plains. It’s also home to over 370 bird species.
The Park works diligently to protect its wildlife and imposes the following rules:
- Never get out of the vehicle except at designated spots.
- Don’t harass the animals.
- No off-road driving and the animals always have the right of way. After all, they were here first.
Our game drives offer you an excellent view of Amboseli wildlife, as well as olive baboons and black-face vervet monkeys. The swamps are a veritable bird-watchers paradise, with possible sightings including grey-crowned cranes, superb starlings, beautiful sunbirds, secretary birds, and several more of the 425-feathered resident and migratory species.
Other attractions to the park include meeting the local Maasai people who call this area home, follow their ancient traditions, and tend to their precious cattle. They are one of the most authentic African cultures to visit. The interesting Masai people dominate the outskirts of Amboseli National Park. A cultural visit to the Masai village is an inevitable experience that offers a look into authentic African culture.
In the Masai village, you can experience Maasai cultural customs such as Maasai dances, traditional singing, and their unique dressing method comparable to the Karamojong of Uganda. You will also explore their local homesteads, known as Manyattas, and see how they live, as well as local culinary items and Masai antiques. Moreover, you can even engage in re-afforestation by planting seeds with them – to contribute to their colorful community.
An annual 7-day Maasai festival in Loitoktok showcases the Maasai culture, traditions, and traditional practices, as well as the Masai yearly Olympics in Kimana.
Observation Hill is the perfect location for sundowners, and the stunning sunsets are not to be missed by photographers. It is a popular attraction that one should not miss out on while on a Kenya safari to Amboseli National Park. The pyramid-shaped hill is located in the western section of Amboseli National Park. Previously, this hill was occupied by Ndorobo, a group of hunter–gatherers, and some of their remains may still be seen today. On the other hand, the Observation Hill is thought to have originated during the creation of Mount Kilimanjaro as a result of Pleistocene activity.
The Observation Hill in Amboseli National Park is the only place where tourists on a Kenya game viewing safari are allowed to get out of their safari vehicles and take a walk. The hill features a staircase curved from volcanic rocks that tourists use to reach its summit, known as the observation point. You can see Amboseli’s swamps, marshes, savannah grasslands, and various animals from the hill’s vantage point.