Second in popularity after the legendary Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park not only offers great game viewing but is also the place to go for the best views of iconic Mount Kilimanjaro. The world’s tallest free-standing mountain actually rises just across the border in Tanzania but Amboseli has a postcard-perfect view of its snow-capped peaks, rising almost six vertical kilometres above the savannah. The best time to view ‘Kili’ is at dawn and sunset when the clouds lift and the light is clear and soft.
Located about 200km south-east of Nairobi and accessible by road or air, Amboseli is an area of low scrubby vegetation and open grassy plains, all of which makes for easy game viewing. Accommodation is available at several luxury safari lodges and you’ll explore the park on game drives, horse-back safaris and guided nature walks.
At only 392km² Amboseli is a small park and the range of animals is not as extensive as that of other parks in Kenya but streams from Kilimanjaro surface in the centre of Amboseli, creating wetlands that support a rich diversity of wildlife and most of the classic big mammals are there. The species list includes lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, spotted hyena, giraffe and cheetah, and bird watchers will be happy with a list that tops 300 species.
Compact enough to experience in a day or two, Amboseli National Park is included on most Kenya safari itineraries and combines well with a Masai Mara safari. Close by lies Chyulu Hills National Park, a small conservation area based around dramatic, ancient volcanic hills that offer great views of Mount Kilimanjaro and are home to a range of animals that include elephant, buffalo, leopard and many antelope species.
An Amboseli safari can also be combined with several Tanzanian parks. Mount Kilimanjaro National Park and Arusha National Park lie just across the border and are the closest but the highlights of Northern Tanzania – the Serengeti, Tarangire and the Ngorongoro Crater – are easily accessible from this region.