Amboseli National Park Elephants and Kilimanjaro
Amboseli National Park is in southeastern Kenya not far from the Tanzanian border and at the foot of Kilimanjaro. 1948 the area was declared a protected wildlife area and lifted to the status of National Park in 1974. It covers only 392 km2 and is in the land of the Maasai. Only some years ago other tribes have settled to agriculture. Since Maasai cattle require water they have access to watering points in the park.
Several conservancies around Amboseli National Park were established and nice lodges built inside. They are extending the available land for wildlife – for example Tawi Eco Lodge.
Amboseli National Park is famous for its many Elephants with Kilimanjaro as backdrop. Dr. Cynthia Moss and her team from “Amboseli Elephant Trust” have researched them over decades. Elephants were given names and books and documentaries were produced.
Lake Amboseli in the western part of the park gave the park the name. The lake can expand to around 160 km2 after rain. This is in contrast to the dry plains where wind whirls dust high up into the sky. Waters sips through porous lava from Kilimanjaro and forms the swamp or puddles where you won’t expect them. Animals depend on this permanent water. After passing volcanic rocks the water contains minerals and salt. This has led to the death of some trees and plants not able to deal with it.
After rain there was a temporary lake close to Ol Tukai Lodge. Some years back it became a permanent lake. Water birds and hippos welcome the new food supply. For the park management it became a challenge and several roads had to be newly constructed elevated to higher ground.
Lakes, swamps, dry salt pans and large Umbrella Thorn Acacias are the main biotopes in Amboseli National Park.
Wildlife in Amboseli National Park
Herbivores: Buffalo, Plain Zebra, Maasai Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Grant & Thomson Gazelles, Bohor Reedbuck, Gerenuk, Eastern white-bearded Wildebeest. Zebras and Wildebeest migrate to and from Kilimanjaro West while most other find enough food throughout the year.
Where herbivores are carnivores cannot be far. In the open plains you might find Lion, Cheetah, Serval Cat, Spotted Hyenas, Black-backed & Golden Wolves, Yellow Baboons and Vervet Monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus). The cute Bat-eared Foxes profit from plenty of insects. For example in Sentrim Amboseli Lodge you can find Dwarf & Banded Mongoose as well as Ground Squirrels.
A special moment is when Elephant families walk out of their sleeping places and pass under the large Umbrella Thorn Acacias in front of Kilimanjaro. In the evening they walk back. Video
Around 425 bird species are registered, among them a good number of migrants. Here we mention some more special species
Goliath Heron, Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia brachyrhyncha), Lesser & Greater Flamingo, Great White Pelican, Glossy Ibis, Spur-winged Goose (Plectopterus g. gambensis), Fulvous Whistling Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Lesser Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, Collared Pratincole, Double-banded Courser (Rhinoptilus africanus gracilis), Kittlitz’s Plover, Long-toed Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus olivascens), White-bellied Go-away bird, Rufous-crowned Roller, Fischer’s Sparrow Lark, Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica unitatis)
Birds of prey: Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Western Marsh Harrier (Circus a. aeruginosus), Greater Kestrel, Lanner Falcon, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Marsh Owl (Asio c. capensis), Pearl-spotted Owlet, Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos t. tracheliotos)
Before the sun sets we have to be in the lodge/camp. But the next morning we might see what happened at night.
Video clips – some from Joseph Mwangi, our driver/guide
Accommodation at Amboseli National Park
All lodges have a swimming pool and Spa. Except Sentrim Amboseli all offer game drives in safari vehicles, some of them in open vehicles. So you can fly in and out. The drive from Nairobi depending on traffic is around 5 hours.
National Park. Just 10 minutes drive from the gate. The 60 tents and bungalows are arranged in a way that all have a view to Kilimanjaro. The compound is large and a paradise for birders! Very good service / price ratio.
Ol Tukai Lodge
Serena Amboseli Lodge is also inside the park but a closer to the boundary. Still the location is fantastic to start your game drives. All Serena Lodges have a very high standard.
Tortilis Camp is a bit a distance away from the swamps but has a very high standard. The tents are beautiful and nicely decorated. Meals are very tasty. The name derives from the Umbrella Thorn Acacia (Acacia (Vachellia) tortilis).
Within a private conservancy of 1.214 hectares is the Eco Lodge Tawi. Here game drives are more private. The entrance to the park is around 30 minutes away. A land cruiser is required in this sandy area.
Our safaris visiting Amboseli National Park
Sentrim Amboseli Lodge
Serena Amboseli Lodge
Tawi Eco Lodge in its own conservancy adjacent to the park
Some impressions of Amboseli National Park