Everyone loves watching Elephants, and this is one of the very best places in Africa to get really close to these remarkably sociable and intelligent animals. The wide-open grassy plains of Amboseli provide visitors with the ideal conditions for close encounters and easy viewing. In addition, the Amboseli Elephants are thoroughly habituated to humans and quite at ease in the presence of our game vehicles, which means you have the rare opportunity to get close enough to observe them in detail and get some amazing photographs.
Although Amboseli National Park is particularly well-known for its charismatic Elephants, the park is also home to a wide variety of other game (including 4 of the big five) and particularly good birdlife. The presence of year-round water in what is essentially an arid area is due to two swamp areas that received a constant supply of fresh glacial waters emanating from Mount Kilimanjaro, across the border in Tanzania. These swampy areas are a favourite haunt of Elephants, Hippo, Crocodiles and a wide variety of birds that thrive in the adjoining palm forests, as well as all the other game that patiently await their turn to drink – simply park and watch for some incredible sightings.
The iconic image that defines a visit to Amboseli National Park is the emotive sight of a line of Elephants crossing the grasslands against the definitive backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro; Now is the perfect time to come and see it for your-self.
Check out some of our most popular itineraries for safaris in Amboseli:
Key Activities in Amboseli National Park:
Dedicated Elephant Watching
General Game Drives
Hot-air Balloon excursions
For most of our visitors, these charming animals are the main reason for their visit, and they will not be disappointed.
You can’t miss the herds of elephants in Amboseli; they are easy to see, study and photograph, and there are knowledgeable guides keen to tell you all about them. You can go on a special “Elephant Watching” game drive that focuses on the social behaviour of a single herd. You get to know a bit about each individual in the herd and how it interacts with the others. Witnessing the protection and deep affection that cows have for their calves is heart-warming, and it’s thrilling if you get the opportunity to see two elephant bulls fighting for dominance. You’ll come away with a tremendous respect for these highly intelligent, social animals.
Make the most of the splendid game viewing opportunities in Amboseli by going on twice-daily game drives with the very knowledgeable and well-trained guides. The best time to set out is dawn and late afternoon; it’s too hot for the Elephants and other animals in the middle of the day, so they retreat from the plains to seek shade amongst the trees. Apart from large herds of Elephant you also have a chance of encountering the other prominent members of the Big Five (except for Rhino, which are absent here), during your drives, particularly if you visit for a few days. Dawn and dusk are also the times of day when Mount Kilimanjaro is usually free from mist and at her most beautiful. Depending on which Camp you choose, you may also have the opportunity to end your morning or afternoon drive with a fabulous bush dinner or breakfast under the wide African skies
A walking safari is an excellent way of exploring Amboseli’s flora and fauna. The walks take place on one of the private conservancies or ranches bordering the National Park and you will usually be accompanied by a Maasai guide who will explain the traditional Maasai way of life. Smell the unmistakable aromas of nature, hear the sounds and feel the African soil under your feet – it’s a wholesome experience that alerts the senses and brings you on a level with the game.
As mentioned before, bird watching is very good in Amboseli and enthusiasts should book a special bird-watching trek with a birding expert who knows exactly where to go to find the rare and sky specimens you want to see. Birding is at its best here from October to January, when the endemic birds are joined by thousands of migratory visitors.
A few of the camps and lodges outside the park offer accompanied out-rides if you enjoy horseback riding. This is a great way of enjoying the wilderness and getting a lot closer to the wildlife. Keen and competent equestrians may want to consider a multi-night horseback safari in the Amboseli eco-system, where you will spend 5-6 exciting and invigorating hours in the saddle each day as you explore every nook and cranny of this wildlife haven.
A Hot-air Balloon safari over Amboseli is undoubtedly one of the most memorable additions you can make to your visit. The excursion takes to the air for about an hour just before dawn, giving you the chance to see the rising sun paint Mt Kilimanjaro a distinct purple, contrasting with the delicate ice-pink of snow-covered Kibo Peak; simply unforgettable! Your excursion concludes with a champagne bush breakfast after touch-down.
Take the opportunity to learn more about the ancient and traditional way of life of the local Maasai people on a cultural visit to a Maasai Village.
Walk up Observation Hill in the centre of the park for tremendous, panoramic views of the entire Amboseli ecosystem. You’ll look down upon Elephant herds crossing a massive expanse of open grassland plains which turn into a huge lake after the onset of heavy summer rains. To the south east, Vervet monkeys and Baboons live in the dense palm forest called Ol Tukai. The parks’ two swampy springs lie at either end of Ol Tukai. Further south is a landscape of huge volcanic boulders created by lava flow from Mount Kilimanjaro, hundreds of years ago. Beyond this, Maasai villages line the southern border of the park, where Kenya meets Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro. Surely one of the best views in Africa!
While most people flock to Amboseli for close-ups of the Elephant kind, there are a host of other wonderful animals just waiting to fascinate and excite you in this park. Get ready to start crossing some of these off your list:
Buffalo – they love to wallow in the swamps
Crocodile – likewise!
Impala, Dik-dik and other antelope
Amboseli’s main carnivores are Cheetahs, Spotted Hyenas, Jackals and Wild Cats – if you are really lucky, you may come across them hunting on the open plains. There are Lions and Leopards too, but they are very shy and less likely to be seen on a typical drive in this park.
Within the park itself, there is a luxury tented camp and 3 excellent lodges in beautiful locations with swimming pools, interesting wildlife talks and evening Maasai dancing. There are also small, private campsites and some very basic campsites if your budget is tight. Outside the park are numerous other accommodation options on several private conservancies that can offer walking safari and night drives in addition to the activities available inside the park.
Amboseli Serena Lodge is situated within the park and is a large lodge, comprising 92 luxury en-suite rooms with private balconies. This Lodge offers all the activities and amenities you would expect from a large safari lodge and has conference facilities which can accommodate groups of up to 120 people.
Ol Tukai Lodge is also situated inside the park and has 80 luxury en-suite rooms which all have private verandas facing either the wetlands or Mount Kilimanjaro. Most meals are served on the terrace and you can do some extra game viewing from the elevated bar on the roof deck. Cool off in the pool between game drives.
For a smaller, more intimate luxury experience you could try eco-friendly Tawi Lodge, which is situated outside Amboseli National Park, just 15 minutes from the Kimana gate. Here there are just 12 very private cottages facing Mt. Kilimanjaro and commanding fabulous views. Luxury touches include butler service and views from the bathtub!
Read more about these and other accommodation options here: Camps and Lodges in Amboseli National Park
A very pleasant and scenic drive of around 250km (4 – 4.5 hours) will transport you from Nairobi to Amboseli. If you prefer a quicker option you can choose a scheduled 40min flight from Nairobi Wilson Airport. Private chartered flights can use the Amboseli airstrip at the Empusel Gate.
January to February and June to October are the two dry seasons. In heavy rains part of the park can turn into a swamp, so it is best to avoid the rainy seasons, unless you are specifically wanting to go bird watching, which is at its’ best from October to January.
Are you ready to embark on the Elephant adventure of a lifetime? Amboseli is waiting to welcome you with warm Kenyan hospitality, so don’t waste another moment.
Contact our team of expert consultants and let them plan your dream safari in Amboseli today.
If you would like to include some of the very best wildlife experiences Kenya has to offer, have a look at this popular itinerary which includes all the gems!
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