Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park, one of Kenya’s most popular National Parks which was established as a nature reserve in 1968 and gazetted as a National Park in 1974, designated as an international biosphere reserve, lays immediately north-west of Mount Kilimanjaro and approximately 200 km west of Narobi City.
It is surrounded by six communally-owned group ranches that are wet-season dispersal areas for wildlife, and whose management has direct influence on the ecological stability of the park. The park covers part of a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake, ‘Lake’ Amboseli, which floods during times of heavy rainfall. The Amboseli area is in the rain-shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro and receives only 300 mm of rain/year on average. However, water flowing underground from Mount Kilimanjaro wells up here in a series of lush papyrus swamps that provide dry-season water and forage for wildlife. Tracts of attractive Acacia xanthophloea woodland flank these. Open Acacia tortilis woodland also occurs on drainage lines in the southern part of the park. Acacia–Commiphora bushland surrounds the basin, while the level floor, with alkaline soils, supports thickets of Salvadora persica and Suaeda monoica. Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season. This, with the picturesque surroundings (dominated by the imposing Mount Kilimanjaro), has made Amboseli a major tourist destination.
Game at Amboseli National Park
A wide range of mammal occur here; we look out for the African Lion which can easily be found and occasionally sighted stalking prey, Cape Buffalo, Cheetah, Gazelle, Spotted Hyena, Jackals, Wildebeest, Common Zebra, Olive Baboons, name it. Also reptiles, butterflies and amphibians are plenty.
Birding Amboseli National Park
Amboseli boosts of a rich bird life, with over 400 bird species recorded, including the globally threatened Madagascar Pond-Heron, Lesser Flamingo, Lesser Kestrel, and Possibly Africa’s most sought after bird, the Shoebill which has a-one-time record in the area and over 40 birds of prey.
The park also has forty two of the ninety four species of the Somali-Masai biome that occur in Kenya.
To find Amboseli a very productive birding spot, one needs to get there during and just after the October-December rains. This is when local birds are joined by migrants from the Northern hemisphere, sometimes in fairly large numbers.