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Elephants in the Amboseli wetlands.
  Amboseli NR
Size: 392 km2/151 sq mi.
Best time to visit: August–October, but most of the year is fine. Avoid April and May, which are usually rainy.
Wildlife & attractions: Elephants. Many species, but cats are not very common. Nice views of Kilimanjaro.
Getting there: 5 to 6 hours from Nairobi. Most of the way is on fair tarmac road, but the last two hours are on fair to poor bush road. The bush roads inside the park are fair.
There are scheduled flights from Nairobi to an airstrip in the park.
Amboseli map
Amboseli map.
Kenya map
Kenya map.
  More web sites
By Kenya Birds.
Amboseli checklist
By Kenya Birds.
Safari glossary
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Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli National Reserve, or Amboseli National Park (see Park status below), is situated in south-eastern Kenya, just north of the border to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro. Whenever you see a picture of an elephant with Kilimanjaro in the background, it's likely to have been shot in Amboseli. Unfortunately, the great view of this mountain, which is the highest in Africa, is often obscured by clouds or haze.

The nature in Amboseli varies between woodlands, open grasslands and wetlands. It's not a very large park, so you may cover most of it in a long full day. A popular spot is Observation Hill, set by the wetlands, where you can leave the vehicle and walk up the hill for great views of the park. It's not a very high or steep walk.

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Male ostrich on the savanna of Amboseli.

Elephants and other wildlife
Amboseli is a fairly good park, although not one of the prime parks, as the big cats aren't seen as regularly as in for example Masai Mara or Samburu. It is one of the best elephant parks in Kenya, though, and very large herds are sometimes seen. The large elephant population has taken its toll on the vegetation; elephants de-bark and pull down tree for food. Tree-planting projects have been started in the area to counteract the damages caused by the elephants.

The park can be very good during dry seasons, when it attracts a lot of wildlife. Apart from the elephants, you may see a variety of the classic African safari animals, such as giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, African buffalos, hyaenas and antelopes.

Park status
A decision was made in 2005 to change the status of Amboseli from national park (under national management) to national reserve (under local management). The change has not formally been done yet, and the park is referred to as both Amboseli National Park and Amboseli National Reserve in different sources.

Usually, national parks have a better level of protection and conservation than national reserves. It is to see whether this change of management will affect the quality of the park or the wildlife, when and if it is formally done.

Combining Amboseli and other parks
Amboseli is situated too far to the south-east to fit into a good safari itinerary that also includes Kenya's prime park Masai Mara. Travelling from Amboseli to Masai Mara (or Lake Nakuru or Samburu) means a very long day on the roads. You can find better itineraries, with less travelling. Should you want to combine these parks anyhow, you should choose a long safari (six or seven days), or fly between the parks.

Another option is combining Amboseli and Tsavo. Such safaris may start from either Nairobi in central Kenya or Mombasa on the coast.

Female giraffe in sunset light.

Lodges and camps

Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge.Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge is in southern Amboseli National Reserve in Kenya, surrounded by acacias and backdropped by Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain (5,895 m/19,341 ft). The lodge offers high standard, and has a style inspired by African materials and the culture of the Maasai people.

More about Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge

Web site:

Ol Tukai Lodge.Ol Tukai Lodge has rooms in bungalows facing the Amboseli savanna, where zebras, wildebeest and elephants may be seen. The standard is good. There is also a swimming pool facing the savanna. The lodge has a restaurant and a lounge, and there is a gift shop. Baboons and vervet monkeys may be encountered in the lodge garden.

Web site:

Tortilis Camp is a good tented camp in Kitirua Conservation Area south-west of Amboseli, bordering the national reserve. The location is an advantage, allowing for game viewing not only in sometimes crowded Amboseli, but also in the conservation area. The camp has 17 tents and a family two-room house. There is a central dining area, bar and lounge, gift shop, and swimming pool. The camp offers activities including game drives and bush walks.

Web site:

Amboseli Porini Camp is a good camp set in Selenkay Conservation Area some 25 km/15 mi north of the national reserve, an area with no other camps or lodges. The camp has nine spacious tents with ensuite bathrooms and solar lighting. Meals in a mess tent, a campfire and a setting right in the bush add to a good safari atmosphere. The camp offers day and night game drives and bush walks for safari activities.

Web site:

Amboseli Sopa Lodge (formerly Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge) is situated east and (some 15 km/9 mi) outside of Amboseli. The lodge has 80+ rooms (including a honeymoon suite) in individual huts, decorated in an African theme. There is a restaurant, two bars, swimming pool, children's pool, conference room, and a gift shop.

Web site:

Ol Kanjau Tented Safari Camp is a tented camp just outside eastern Amboseli, built right in the bush without permanent structures. There are six tents with safari style bathrooms (bucket showers), dining and bar area, and safari activities including game drives, bush walks, and bird watching.

Web site:

Sentrim Amboseli is a large tourist class tented lodge in the eastern Amboseli area, offering 60 tents with private verandas. There are dining, lounge and bar areas, and swimming pool, jacuzzi, and gift shop. The lodge offers game drives in 4WD vehicles.

Web site:

Kibo Safari Camp is another large tented lodge in the same area as Sentrim Amboseli. It has 61 tents, all with ensuite bathroom. There is a dining area, bar, and swimming pool. The main safari activity offered is game drives.

Web site:

Kilima Safari Camp is a tented lodge being built east of Amboseli, outside the Kimana/Olkelunyiet Gate. It is planned to have 60 tents, bar and dining area, swimming pool, and lecture room.

Web site:

Satao Elerai is a tented lodge in a private concession 10 km/6 mi south-east of Amboseli. It has nine tents and five suites in bungalows. All have private bathroom with solar heated water. The lodge offers activities such as day and night game drives, and bush walks.

Web site:

Amboseli Lodge and Kilimanjaro Safari Lodge in central Amboseli have closed.

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Page updated 11 February 2010