Located in southern Kenya the Amboseli National Park is just a few hours south of Nairobi and near the border with Tanzania. Amboseli is the classic African safari, notoriously known for the dramatic images of huge herds of elephants moving across the plains with the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro clearly visible in the background.

With just an area of 392 square kilometers (151 square miles), Amboseli is small when contrasted with other illustrious Kenyan parks, for example, the Masai Mara. There are hundreds of species of animals here, but all that diversity is packed into this one small area that appears tiny on the map; it’s easy to forget how that impacts different elements of the landscape. 

Amboseli is a land of great contrasts and diversity from rocky rapids and sulfur springs to a lake that disappears and reappears without warning, Amboseli’s varied habitats are home to a vast variety of animals and birdlife.


The Incredible Elephants of Amboseli


Amboseli is famous worldwide because of its considerable elephant herds and for being most likely the most popular place to get up shut to free-ranging elephants. The park is one of Kenya’s biggest, with an estimated population of over 1,600 elephants. 

Some extraordinary stories are to show how heavy the tusks of the bulls in Amboseli e.g. bigger than those of great forest elephants in central Africa.

The elephants of Amboseli have been studied for over 45 years by researchers from the Amboseli Elephant Research Project. The unique look inside intricate family bonds, behavior patterns and smarts of the extraordinarily intelligent primate population has been a record-breaker and a long-lasting project. 

The matriarchs, females who are typically matriarchal, lead their herds through the marsh and forest while their mothers raise and protect their young, and bulls engaging in displays of dominance.

Amboseli is one of the best places in Kenya to view and photograph big herds of elephants playing in the park’s swampy areas during the daytime. Here, bystanders can see elephants of all ages approaching the shallow waters, where they are indulging in mud baths and spraying themselves with trunk-fulls of water as they graze on the rich vegetation that thrives in these wetlands. 

The thundering rumbles of the elephants and their trumpeting calls ring through the air and truly create the feeling of being part of pure and unspoiled nature.

At the end of the day, these gentle giants make their nightly procession to migrate out of the center of the park to the community lands surrounding the park. The elephants march in long lines that stretch to the horizon, kicking up clouds of the dry, alkaline soil that coats Amboseli’s plains – this is what gives the park its name (Amboseli is derived from the Maasai word “Empusel,” meaning “salty dust”). A dream, for photographers, these elephants with the sun going down behind them and the iconic silhouette of Mount Kilimanjaro as the backdrop, are portfolio shots.

The combination of Amboseli’s high elephant density, presence of impressive large tuskers, and the ability to observe natural elephant behavior at close range makes this park truly unmatched in the world for elephant viewing and appreciation. 

An Amboseli safari offers a chance to forge unforgettable memories and a deep connection with these majestic creatures in one of their last great strongholds on the planet.


Other Wildlife Highlights


While elephants may steal the show, Amboseli has plenty more to offer wildlife enthusiasts. The park is home to many other famous African animals:

  • Large populations of buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, and Maasai giraffe
  • Predators like lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, and jackals
  • Over 400 species of birds, including pelicans, kingfishers, and raptors
  • Rare sightings of serval cats and bat-eared foxes

The varied habitats mean you can spot animals in very different settings – from gazelles grazing on the open plains to hippos wallowing in the marshes.


The Best Times to Visit Amboseli


High Season (June to October)

  • Drier conditions make wildlife easier to spot as animals congregate around water sources
  • Days are mostly sunny and rain-free
  • Peak season means higher rates and more crowds, but excellent game viewing

Low/Green Season (November to May)

  • “Long rains” peak in April and May, with “short rains” around November
  • Lush, green scenery is incredibly photogenic
  • Fewer visitors and lower rates
  • Best for birdwatching as migratory species arrive
  • Some roads may be impassable in the wettest months

While there’s no bad time, many recommend visiting during the drier months of January-February or June-September for ideal wildlife viewing and comfortable temperatures.


How to Experience Amboseli National Park


There are several ways to explore Amboseli tailored to different travel styles and budgets:

Day Tours from Nairobi

For those short on time, day tours from Nairobi (about a 3-4 hour drive) allow you to experience Amboseli’s highlights with a professional guide. Typical day tours cost around $180-$250 and include transportation, park fees, lunch, and game drives.

Multi-Day Guided Safaris

To fully experience Amboseli, multi-day guided safaris are highly recommended. Popular options include:

  • 2 Day/1 Night Safari (~$265 per person) – Includes accommodation, park fees, and game drives
  • 3 Day/2 Night Private Safari (~$1,050 per person) – A premium private safari covering Amboseli’s diverse habitats
  • 4 Day Safari to Amboseli, Tsavo East & West (~$1,275 per person) – Combines multiple parks for varied wildlife

Most safari packages include accommodation, meals, park fees, and an expert guide to ensure you make the most of your time.


Where to Stay in Amboseli


Amboseli offers a range of accommodations from basic tented camps to luxury lodges. Here are some top picks:

  • Maasai Simba Camp – A unique camp run by locals offering an authentic Maasai cultural experience
  • Tortilis Camp – A premium tented camp with incredible views of Kilimanjaro
  • Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge – A large 4-star lodge just meters from the park entrance

Many travelers recommend spending 2-3 nights in Amboseli to have enough time for multiple game drives and activities.


Tips for Photographers


With its photogenic elephant herds, diverse landscapes, and that iconic Kilimanjaro backdrop, Amboseli is a dream for photographers. Some tips:

  • Pack lenses ranging from wide-angle (24mm) to telephoto (400mm+) to capture different scenes
  • Shoot during the soft morning and evening light for atmospheric shots
  • Head to vantage points like Observation Hill for sweeping panoramas
  • Bring plenty of cleaning gear to combat dust getting on equipment

The goal is to capture those classic postcard-worthy images of elephants with Kilimanjaro looming in the background.


An Unforgettable Safari Destination


While often overshadowed by bigger names like the Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park offers an exceptional and iconic safari experience. 

With its diverse landscapes, incredible elephant viewing, stunning scenery, and relative accessibility from Nairobi, Amboseli should be on every safari enthusiast’s Kenyan itinerary. 

Book your Amboseli adventure today for memories that will last a lifetime.