Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli National Park is found on the Kenya-Tanzania border. It is a major tourist destination and it is located close to Mt. Kilimanjaro which is the highest mountain in Africa. The park is located in Kajiado District, RiftVallry Province in Kenya. Amboseli is 39,206 hectares which is equivalent to 392 sq kilometers and 151 kilometers squared. Amboseli is at the center of an 8,000 kilometers squared ecosystem located across the Kenya- Tanzania border. Amboseli National Park was originally known as Masaai Amboseli Game Reserve. The park was established in 1968 but it was later gazetted as Amboseli National Park in 1974 by the Kenyan Governemnt. The Name was recently changed from Amboseli National Park to Amboseli National Reserve by the current Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. The change from a park to a reserve included the shift of collection of fees collected from the wildlife service to the local county council. Amboseli National Park is unique because it is considered to be small compared to other national reserves and national parks, yet it is home to over 50 species of animals, even when it is dry. The animals that can be found at the Amboseli National Reserve include; lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffalos, elephants and over 400 bird species. Water birds that can be found in Amboseli National Park include; Kingfishers, pelicans, hammerkops, crakes and various types of raptors. Amboseli National Reserve covers 392 sq kilometers. Amboseli National Park is approximately 140 kilometres South of Nairobi, which is the capital city of Kenya. It is an approximately four hour drive from Nairobi to Amboseli National Park. Amboseli’s altitude is approximately 3900-4500 feet above sea level.
The Maasai is the main tribe of people who live near Amboseli. There are individuals from other tribes who live near the park mainly due to work related activities as a direct result of tourism. The Masaai are distinguished, physically tall nomads well known for their success in battling and winning with wild animals. When wild animals tried to take their cattle, they would kill the wild animals like lions, leopards and cheetahs.
The Masaai have adapted to living in the ecosystem surrounded by wild animals and the sometimes harsh weather conditions. The Massai live in huts known as ‘manyatta’ which are made up sticks and bent poles, covered with mud and cow dung. The houses are built over a short period of time and they are as easily and quickly abandoned as the Maasai have to keep on moving as they search for new pasture for their cattle. Horse riding services are offered at Amboseli involves meandering through the vast woods to catch views of zebras, giraffes, baboons, impala, wildebeest and gazelles. Horse riders can also see herds of elephants as they go to waterholes to drink water. Hippos can also be seen at the edge of the water holes if it is at daylight. The hippos usually hide from the heat of the sun during the day. This is usually a wonderful site that all visitors to the Amboseli enjoy. There are thick bushes where most predators of the animal kingdom can be observed. Such predators include members of the cat family; lions, leopards and cheetahs. Hyenas can also be observed in such areas. Most of the wildlife usually come out in the afternoon and can be observed near thick bushes. Horse riders can observe herds of elephants, herds of giraffes as they feed on twigs, hyenas, jackal and even prides of lines can be observed usually lurking in the bushes. Tourists can take beautiful pictures of the wildlife as they graze. The beautiful sunset can also be captured in photos as the horse riders wait for the nocturnal animals mainly predators to start coming out from their hiding places. This is usually done form far distances because even though there is sufficient security from the wildlife, risks are not taken. Game drives and nature walk services are available at the Amboseli National Park whereby tourists can be guided through the national park by tour guides. Camping services are also available at the park with large comfortable beds, modern safari theme bathrooms, laundry services and other services that visitors might need to make them feel as if they are at a home away from home. Painting services are usually available near the Amboseli and they include murals and paintings of animals, the Masaai and the vast African savanna. There are many very comfortable and beautiful hotels located near and around the Amboseli National Park. Melting snow from Mt. Kilimanjaro usually feeds the water holes for the animals. There is a dried up lake in the Amboseli which gives mirages when the weather is very hot and dry.