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Amboseli Safari Tours & Holidays

Amboseli National Park is one of East Africa’s most rewarding safari destinations, and a real classic of the Kenya safari circuit. Compact enough to get around easily, filled with wildlife, replete with good accommodation in and around the park, and with the best Kilimanjaro views to be had anywhere on the continent, Amboseli should be on the list of every safari visitor to Kenya. It’s also close to Nairobi, making it easy to visit in a short time frame, and combine it with other parks as well.

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8 Questions About Amboseli Safaris

 
 

8 Questions About Amboseli Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

When is the best time to go on an Amboseli safari?

“June to October: this is the Dry season proper and, as for so many parks and reserves you’re likely to visit on your Kenya tour, it’s the perfect time for Amboseli safaris for that familiar combination of clear skies, dry safari trails and wildlife gathering around a shrinking number of waterholes. June could be my favorite month, with, for the most part, low- or shoulder-season prices. October is good for finding wildlife, but can also be fiercely hot. The short rains in November and December leave a lovely green tinge to the land through December, January and February. As a general rule, avoid March, April and, to a lesser extent, May, when the long rains can turn many trails into quagmires and most of the wildlife disperses beyond the park’s boundaries. Easter can also be overwhelming, with epic crowds of expats and locals flooding in from Nairobi and Mombasa.”

More about the best time to visit Amboseli 1

What are the best reasons to visit Amboseli?

“The wildlife is outstanding, but it’s given an added sense of grandeur by the killer Kilimanjaro views. It is almost the signature image of the African safari – an elephant grazing in the greener-than-green swamp grasslands in the center of the park with perfectly proportioned Mt Kilimanjaro behind. Africa’s highest mountain may lie in Tanzania, but easily the best views of the mountain are from Amboseli, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. Normatior, otherwise known as Observation Hill, is one of very few places where you can get out and stretch your legs, and also take in wonderful views in every direction. Elephants are everywhere in Amboseli, with big tusks and an untroubled demeanor – the elephants here have been studied at length by legendary scientist Dr Cynthia Moss for decades and they’re well accustomed to vehicles. There’s plenty of other wildlife, too, and the long sight lines make for more iconic African views – the savannah plains with acacia, the endless horizon, a silhouetted giraffe…”

2

Can you visit Mt Kilimanjaro from Amboseli?

“No. The grand old mountain may look so close that you can reach out and touch it, and the Kenya–Tanzania border is not far away (somewhere close to the lower foothills of the mountain), but there’s no crossing here. The nearest crossing if you wish to actually climb the mountain is east of here, at Oloitokitok, a busy Maasai border town with an immigration post. All told, you can expect to drive for half a day, including time spent at the border, from Amboseli to Marangu, one of the gateway towns to a Kili climb, or on to Moshi where many of the climbing tour operators have their base.”

3

What animals can I expect to see on an Amboseli safari?

“Elephants are easily the main draw of any Amboseli safari – they’re big, they’re beautiful and they’re always found in the Enkongo Narok, Ol Okenya and Longinye swamps that lie in the park’s heart. Bad-tempered hippos also lurk in the waters, occasionally emerging to do battle for territory. I’ve always been really fortunate on Amboseli tours with lions, cheetahs and spotted hyenas (including a den), while giraffe are often sighted amid the acacias in the park’s east. Other plains animals include zebras and Thomson’s gazelle in abundance, while baboons and vervet monkeys are similarly prolific. The swamps draw hundreds of bird species, especially waders, year-round but with a discernible spike in numbers from November when migrating species arrive from Europe.”

More about the wildlife of Amboseli National Park 4

How long is the drive to Amboseli?

“From Nairobi, it’s a four- to five-hour drive, although traffic levels along the Nairobi–Mombasa highway vary greatly. The most commonly used park gates are Iremito and Kimana. It’s also possible to drive from the Kenya–Tanzania border at Namanga, although you’ll need a 4WD vehicle for this route along the rough tracks of the park’s western reaches. There are a number of airstrips in the Amboseli Basin, and flying is a good alternative to the road journey. You can arrive for Amboseli tours in an hour from the capital’s Wilson Airport, through which there are connections to other Kenyan safari destinations, such as the Masai Mara or Samburu National Reserves.”

5

What condition are the roads in within the park?

“Although I always prefer to travel in a 4WD vehicle, most Amboseli safari tour trails (with the possible exception of the western sector of the park) are accessible in a normal 2WD vehicle. Indeed, the most commonly sighted safari vehicle in Amboseli is the ubiquitous white minivan with a pop-up roof. I have seen minivans crossing the park with ease in April (the heart of the rainy season), but Amboseli’s poor soils quickly turn to mush after rains and only an experienced local driver should consider visiting the park in a 2WD at this time. There are, of course, no paved roads in Amboseli.”

6

What are the pros and cons of different accommodation types?

“With Amboseli safari packages, the question is whether to stay inside the park or just beyond its boundaries. In the center of the park, there are two long-established but extremely comfortable lodges, a luxury tented camp and campsites, meaning a range of Amboseli safari prices. Whichever you choose, the advantage is that you don’t have to wait until the park gates open at 6 AM before exploring the heart of the park. It also means you can linger a little longer as the sun nears the horizon – it’s forbidden to drive inside the park after sunset. Staying outside the park means you’ll have more choice, from campsites, lodges and tented camps to luxury options on nearby Maasai lands. You may also save a little money on park entry fees, although not necessarily.”

7

What lodges or camps would you recommend?

“Inside the park, I’ve always had a soft spot for the aging Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, a sturdy structure and the first safari lodge I ever stayed in, while Ol Tukai Lodge has a fabulous location and rather lovely grounds. Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli is an elegant and nicely secluded luxury tented camp away from the busier areas of the park but still with fantastic Kilimanjaro views. Beyond the park, two places rank among the most storied and luxurious of Kenya safari accommodation options, and both boast Kilimanjaro views. Ol Donyo Lodge, out beyond Mbirikani northeast of the park, is quite possibly the most beautiful lodge I’ve stayed in while on a Kenya tour, while Campi ya Kanzi, away to the east off a trail to Tsavo West National Park, has a real Maasai feel to it and is a beautiful tented camp.”

8

Amboseli Safari Reviews

4.4/5 232 Reviews
Expert
Lizzie Williams  –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Guaranteed wildlife-viewing at the foot of Kilimanjaro
5/5

Amboseli has instant likeability and although it can be crowded with game-viewing vehicles, there are plenty of good reasons for its popularity. For a start, it’s a straightforward drive from Nairobi via the newish C102 road – the...

Full Review

Expert
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for Condé Nast Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

One of Kenya’s most picturesque parks with spectacular views of Kilimanjaro
5/5

I creaked into Amboseli after a frantic break-neck drive with the military convoy from Tsavo in a near-dead Suzuki Vitara hire-car. I had a soldier riding with me and the cartridge of his AK47 wore a hole through the dashboard because of...

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Flore  –  
Netherlands NL
Reviewed: Feb 25, 2024
4/5

It was big, we saw almost all the animals except the rhino (but the rhino doesn’t live in Amboseli) and no cats. But we went on safari on for 1,5day. But the experience was so cool and wonderful, we would definitely go again.

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Aleksandra  –  
Italy IT
Reviewed: Feb 16, 2024
5/5

Amboseli is great, but you can not see all the animals you can find in Maasai Mara. It is iconic for the view of mount Kilimanjaro and the many elephants. It is also recommended for birdwatching and has wonderful landscapes.

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Gašper  –  
Slovenia SI
Reviewed: Sep 22, 2023
4/5

Amboseli was quite hot and dusty. We saw Kilimanjaro, elephants (even the one with huge tusks), lions setting hunting formation. I was still amazed, but if I compare it to Masai Mara, I cannot give it the same rating.

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Bruno Vidal de Souza  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: Sep 14, 2023
5/5

Because of the swamps the National Park concentrate a really high quantity of animals. It is absolutely beautiful and you see A LOT of animals all together. In really large quantities, it felt like a movie. Another unique thing is the view...

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