A number of national parks in southern and south eastern Kenya have, in clear weather, fine views of the snow and ice covered peak of Kilimanjaro, which lies just south of the border to Tanzania. Amboseli is the park most famous for this view, as it is the park that lies closest to the mountain, whose peak is only 40 km away. But the park is also renowned for being home to many easily spotted elephants, amongst which there are a good number of really outstanding individuals with exceptionally large tusks. There are around 1.100 elephants in Amboseli and their behaviour has been studied intensively for more than 40 years by scientific researchers.
Every day the elephants move in from the surrounding forests on to Amboseli’s flat plains to drink and bathe in the freshwater marshes, where they mix with the parks other classic big game animals such as hippopotamus, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and giraffes. The spotted hyena is the park’s most numerous predator, but here you can also find a couple of prides of lions and the individual leopard and cheetah. The park’s birdlife is impressive, more than 400 species have been seen here, of which the incredibly beautiful crowned crane is perhaps the district’s most characteristic.
The wetlands are the reason why most of the animals are here in this park, as it is generally the surroundings are very dry. The water feeding the marshes comes from rain falling on Kilimanjaro that has filtered down through the earth to central Amboseli. There is also sometimes a lake here, but it is salty, and only forms for short periods if the rains have been good. Chyulu Hills national park which lies just to the east of Amboseli on the south west shoulder of a ridge that offers sublime view over the savannah towards Kilimanjaro. The park only has two small camps, and therefore fewer tourists than Amboseli, which makes for a more exclusive safari experience, however it is unfortunately also rather more expensive to visit here.
Chyulu Hills borders the huge Tsavo national park to the east. Around both Amboseli and Chyulu Hills live many of the Masai and many of their small villages welcome visitors, giving you an impression of their traditional way of life. The park lies around 250 km south east of Nairobi with good tarmac roads most of the route.
• Classical breath-taking views over the savannah with Kilimanjaro in the background
• Many, large herds of elephants with many ”prize specimens”
High season: January to March and July to October