Amboseli National Park embodies 5 main wildlife habitats: open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush, swamps and marshlands. The park also covers a part of the Pleistocene lake basin, which is now dry. Within this basin is the temporary Lake Amboseli that floods during heavy rainfall. Although a very dry and arid landscape, Amboseli is quite lush in places.
Famously dusty, Amboseli has a layer of ancient volcanic ash, which characterises the park during the dry season and droughts. In contrast, periods of heavy rainfall can cause flooding in this famously dry land and the Amboseli takes on swampy marshlands.
This park enjoys the backdrop of Africa's most iconic mountains, Mount Kilimanjaro. The melting snows of Kilimanjaro flow underground into the park and continually feeds water to springs, swamps, and marshes providing a much needed lifeline. This fragile ecosystem displays an impressive wildlife variety, with more than 50 mammal species, including one of the largest populations of free-roaming elephants in the world
What to see and do
The kings of Amboseli are the elephants, which are easy to spot and photograph due to the flat and bare terrain. Amboseli's elephants are said to be the biggest in Kenya and can be found in the swamps where they share the cool waters with the hippos that hide beneath the papyrus.
The park is also home to a large resident population of wildebeest, Burchell's zebra, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, buffalo, warthog, impala, waterbuck, dik dik, Maasai giraffe and eland. Vervet monkey and yellow baboon inhabit the scarce woodlands, mainly around Ol Tukai Lodge. Lion, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, wild cat, bat-eared foxes and caracal are also found here, while leopard, cheetah and black rhino are quite rare.
Birdlife is abundant, especially near the lakes and swamps. The yellow weaver bird, Taveta golden weaver, Taita falcon, southern branded Harrier eagle and Superb starling are some of the resident birds found around the park. Bush walks and night drives are offered in private concessions
Where to find the Amboseli National Park
The climate in the Amboseli region is hot and dry. The national park is in the rain shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, as it lies on the northwest side. Average temperatures vary only slightly throughout the year. The minimum average daily temperature is 27°C and the maximum is 33°C. Drought is typical in this area, and evaporation is high. A total annual rainfall of just 300mm is expected during April and May, and again during November and December.
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