Amboseli belongs in the elite of Kenya’s national parks, and it’s easy to see why. Its signature attraction is the sight of hundreds of big-tusked elephants set against the backdrop of Africa’s best views of Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m). Africa’s highest peak broods over the southern boundary of the park, and while cloud cover can render the mountain’s massive bulk invisible for much of the day, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas when the weather clears, usually at dawn and/or dusk.
Apart from guaranteed elephant sightings, you’ll also see wildebeest and zebras, and you’ve a reasonable chance of spotting lions, cheetahs and hyenas. The park is also home to over 370 bird species, and it has an excellent array of lodges and an agreeably mild, dry climate.
The park is 39,206 hectares (392 km2; 151 sq mi) in size at the core of an 8,000 km2 (3,100 sq mi) ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border.
The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture along the system of swamps that makes this low-rainfall area, average 350 mm (14 in), one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world with 400 species of birds including water birds like pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, hamerkop and 47 raptor species.
The park protects two of the five main swamps, and includes a dried-up Pleistocene lake and semiarid vegetation. About 240 km (150 mi) southeast of Nairobi, Amboseli National Park is the second-most popular national park in Kenya after Maasai Mara National Reserve.