Amboseli National Park – Elephant Country
Amboseli National Park is known to easily display two greats: – Elephants, lots of them, and Africa’s highest mountain – Mt Kilimanjaro, which although located in Tanzania, presents its “best looks’ in the direction of the bordering Amboseli National Park. The park is a fantastic photography location and there is not much flora to hide the animals away from the camera click.
The 392km2 Amboseli National Park is mainly open plains with sparse vegetation. On many trips to the park, the giraffe-necked Gerenuk was the gatekeeper around the entrance – at the park edge where there is good feed for the browsing antelope. There are several swamps in Amboseli that create a pattern of green against the often dry savanna. The Amboseli ecosystem receives low rainfall and the swamps are the all-year round water source for the animals – water which is underground seepage from Mt Kilimanjaro. There is the Lake Amboseli to the north of the park but it is dry save for the rainy season.
The observation hill also refered to as Nomatior by the local Masai community is the highest viewing point in the park. Looking down from the hill, a good range of the park is observable. The best view is of the swamps below with the Elephants, Cape buffalo and Hippopotamus wading and grazing on the grass and sedge, disturbing the peace of the water lilies. The Zebra, Wildebeest, Warthog, Antelopes and Gazelles knowing better than to go into the dip quench their thirst at the fringe of swamps. On safari one dry season, it was sensational to meet over one hundred elephants on their way from the swamps.
The Big Cats in the park include the Lion, Cheetah, Spotted hyena and the not so big jackal. Two of the Big Five are missing from the Amboseli National Park. Once, there were Rhinos but not any longer because of poaching. The Leopard is rarely seen in the park but has been spotted in the larger Amboseli ecosystem.
The Masai people – the main residents of Amboseli call the place Empusel. They enjoy displaying their culture to visitors. Many of my safaris have included visits to the Masai homesteads/bomas. This kind of cultural background and experience is not presented in Amboseli only, but in the Masai Mara and Samburu National Reserves as well. It is not surprising therefore that the most common giraffe in Kenya is called the Masai giraffe while the most widely seen ostrich is known as the Masai Ostrich.
I believe that the dust storms in Amboseli are an odd attraction. They are frequent in the dry season. In arid and semi-arid areas this is ordinary but to those from less dry places, it can be an uncommon happening. The presence of Flamingo in the Amboseli swamps is also intriguing. A few of these elegant birds visit the park seasonally. There are over 400 bird species in Amboseli – large ones like the Ostrich, Greater pelican, Goliath Heron, the Saddle-billed stork and others like the Secretary bird, Egytian goose, African fish eagle, Hornbills, and much smaller ones like the beautiful African Jacana. There is a fair chance of seeing reptiles like the Cobra, Python and Leopard tortoise. The yellow baboon and vervet monkey are also a pleasing sight in the park.
It is always a complete safari – one that features the Amboseli National Park – the second most preferred park in Kenya.
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