Amboseli National Park

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Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park isn’t the largest park in Kenya’s National Park system, but within its boundaries one finds the wide variety of East African wildlife. And of course, Amboseli hosts the iconic safari image – elephants roaming the grassland plain with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, the great mountain looming up out of the southeastern horizon almost 20,000 feet above the plain. Maasai villages and ranches surround the borders of the park (the area was once part of their range), and the Maasai have given Amboseli its name, which means “place of water.”

The Amboseli National Park is famous for its elephants, which are plentiful and ubiquitous from plain to marsh. In fact, there is some evidence that the elephants have become too plentiful at Amboseli; the trees that support them are disappearing, perhaps as a result of over-grazing. The Kenya Wildlife Service, which was charged with eradicating elephant poaching in the 1980s, has now turned its attention to devising ways to protect the habitat of the creatures they protected so well. In addition to the Big five and scores of other mammals, about 600 different species of bird live here.

The five habitats that occur here are open plains, acacia woodland, thornbush country littered with rocks, swamps and marshland. Most of the park lies across a Pleistocene Lake basin, now dry. In very wet weather, a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, floods and restricts access to this part of the park. The climate is mainly hot and dry and most of the park falls in the rain shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro.

The animals in the park are famous, especially the free ranging elephant families. There are large herds of buffalo and elephant that wallow in the swamps and are often seen in the palm forests. Zebra, wildebeest and hippo graze on the plains, whilst in the acacia woodland the uncommon fringe-eared oryx and gerenuk are found, and the spectacled elephant shrew.

Major attractions of the Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park in Kenya boasts several captivating attractions that make it a must-visit destination. One of the highlights is the glacial peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, provided the clouds graciously clear to reveal its stunning beauty. Visitors can also enjoy close encounters with elephants, creating memorable interactions with these majestic creatures. For those seeking adventure, Mt. Meru offers excellent hiking opportunities, adding a touch of exploration to the park experience.

Observation Hill stands out as a prime location within the park, offering a panoramic view of the entire landscape, including the swamps and elephants. The vantage point provides a unique perspective, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural beauty and wildlife that Amboseli has to offer.

Immersing oneself in the contemporary Maasai culture and visiting indigenous homesteads adds a cultural dimension to the park experience. Although somewhat commercialized, these encounters provide insight into the traditional way of life of the Maasai people, enhancing the overall safari experience.

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