Covering 3,810 square kilometers in the Kajiado District of southern Kenya, spreading across the Tanzania border and anchored by the stunning snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s most popular safari parks. With breathtaking scenery and plenty of opportunities to see big game year-round, and the park reachable in an hour from Nairobi, it’s easy to see why.
Named after Lake Amboseli, the UNESCO protected park’s unique ecosystem has five main wildlife habitats, ranging from swamps and marshes to thick bushes and a dry lake bed. Although dry and arid, the scenery is lush thanks to the flooding from Lake Amboseli during heavy rainfall, and the melting snows of Kilimanjaro nourishing marshes and springs. Such a diverse landscape means there’s a huge range of wildlife to spot, with over 50 mammals and 400 species of birds to discover.
On the plains, you could see zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, and impala, in the dry bush areas gerenuk and oryx can be found, and small mammals like jackals, hyenas and a range of African monkeys reside in the park. Rare water birds can also be found in abundance in the swamps and lakes – but it’s the big game that’s the big draw here. You could see lions, giraffe, buffalo, elephants, and leopards on a game drive. Head to the eastern area of the park for the best game, close to the Engoni Naibor and Loginya lakes.
The popularity with safari tours means that Amboseli can often be crowded, but the chance to see elephants walking across open safari plains means it’s still well worth the trip.
Amboseli National Park cost
Entrance to the park is $80 per adult per day, and $40 per child per day (aged 3-18 years).
Amboseli National Park highlights
The chance to see elephants up close is second to none in Amboseli. But you’ll need to wake up early. Head to the Ol Tukai and Olokenya swamps before 7am to see them grazing in front of Mount Kilimanjaro. Head to Observation Hill for 360-degree panoramic views over the park and surrounding mountains.
Activities at Amboseli National Park
Walking safaris are not allowed, but many lodges and camps offer nature walks with the native Maasai tribe in the bordering areas and reserves. Horse safaris are also an option if you want to get even closer to the wildlife. Hour-long balloon safaris promise astounding views over the Mara plains.
Getting to AmboseliNational Park
Amboseli is 240km southeast of Nairobi, accessible by a daily flight from Wilson Airport. You can also take a bus from the capital to Namanga on the Tanzanian border (although there is no transport there to the park gates). The only way to get into and around the park is by private vehicle or on a safari tour.
Staying at Amboseli National Park
For luxury: Tortilis Camp
For a luxurious safari, stay in Tortilis camp. In the southern area of the park, this tented camp boasts great views of Kilimanjaro. With a busy waterhole below, you can relax with a drink watching the animals get theirs. Other highlights include the swimming pool with breathtaking views and a dining room where you’ll be served food freshly grown on-site.
For authenticity: Porini Amboseli Camp
This semi-permanent mobile camp is an hour from Amboseli on Masai land and offers a traditional bush camp experience. Shaded by Acacia trees, Porini truly feels out in the wild – but the Maasai nature walks and game drives mean you won’t miss out on the action.
For families: Amboseli Serena Lodge
Situated near a spring and with spectacular mountain views, this family-friendly accommodation is a large safari hotel within the park grounds, with rooms decorated in traditional Masai style.