"Amboseli NP" Amboseli National Park by MikeBird

Amboseli National Park Travel Guide: 120 reviews and 376 photos

Elephants galore

Amboseli NP is justifiably well known for its large herd of Elephant made famous by the research work of the US scientist Cynthia Moss who has tracked individuals and family groups for over 30 years. The elephants are perhaps the 'signature ' species of the park and if you desperately want to see these fantastic animals in Kenya but you have only limited amounts of time then Amboseli is probably your best choice.

We saw them in large family groups splashing around in the marsh and as singles wandering across the plain. They are perfectly used to the safari vans and at one point the group crossed the road behind us with just a few metres to spare. They did not appear to bothered by us at all.

I think the elephants are my favourite of all the larger game to be seen in Kenya. In a large group it's great to watch for the interactions between them especially if there is a baby in the herd. Watch how the mother will try to protect her calf and the way the baby stays close to mum's legs and those large, human like breasts.

If you want to know more about the elephant family groups of Amboseli read Moss's 1988 book 'Elephant Memories'. There are probably more recent accounts but that one is on my bookshelf as a gift from my wife. It was a more populist account of how Cynthia carried out her research and her findings from 13 years of studying elephant in Amboseli.

Now and then

Back in 1978 I had the amazing good fortune to have the opportunity of working in Amboseli as a researcher gathering data on mammal footprints. The fine-grained soils were perfect for capturing the shape of the tracks and trails from a wide variety of game.

I stayed in a tent at the public campsite near the park Headquarters in Ol Tukai. At that time there were a few basic chalets or Bandas and there was a lodge called the Serena Amboseli that catered for the majority of the park's visitors. There may have been another hotel then - my memory fails me - but that was about it.

Today there are several lodges within the Park and more located outside. When I visited in August 2011 we stayed outside of the park gates . See my accommodation review about Kibo Tented safari camp.

There were several noticeable changes in the park between 1978 and 2011. There seemed to be far fewer trees and larger stands of vegetation now than I recall. The dust is particularly noticeable now. It always was quite a dusty place and admittedly I stayed there from February to April so I'm not quite comparing like for like but it seemed to me that with less vegetation there will almost certainly be a risk of turning it into a dust bowl. The third and most worrying environmental change I noticed was that on Mount Kilimanjaro, which forms a magnificent backdrop to the park, the snow covering the top was conspicuously less. It now barely covers the top whereas thirty years ago the snow extended clearly down the sides of the magnificent volcano giving it an even more exotic appearance from the hot, sultry floor of Amboseli park.

As it happened the weather wasn't perfect on the two days of our visit. This was a pity because we couldn't take the classic photograph of the Giraffe or Elephant in front of the snow capped 'Kilimanjaro' but with climate change it seems likely that the snow will continue to decline in its extent.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great game viewing opportunities - especially elephant
  • Cons:The dust will get everywhere
  • In a nutshell:Good for a day, two at most.
  • Intro Written Sep 10, 2011
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  • Suet's Profile Photo
    Sep 21, 2011 at 2:42 AM

    Amboseli tends to be a bit wet if you go after the long rains. Nice pic of elephant.


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