Amboseli National Reserve, formerly known as Amboseli National Park, has been under the control of the Olkejiado County Council, rather than the Kenyan Wildlife Service, since September 2005. This change means that revenue generated by the park now benefits the local Masai communities.
Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s most popular and is renowned for its population of an estimated 650 elephants, as well as its large herds of wildebeest, zebra, impala and, if you’re lucky, the endangered black rhino and elusive cheetah. The backdrop of the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, just 40 km (25 mi) away and rising majestically above the clouds, dominates the reserve.
Designated an international biosphere reserve and national park in 1974. Amboseli covers a mere 392 sq km (244 sq mi), but despite its small size and the fragility of its ecosystem, it manages to support a wide range of mammals. More than 50 of the larger species of mammals and over 400 species of birds can be found throughout the area.
With its rugged landscape and the romantic, mystical atmosphere of the great mountain looming above, it is no wonder that Amboseli National Park inspired the big-game-hunting tales of Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark.
The volcanic ash from Kilimanjaro’s last eruption thousands of years ago gives many areas of the reserve a dusty appearance, yet a continuous supply of water from the mountain’s melted snow flows in underground streams creating the bold contrast of lush green areas. Various springs, swamps and marshes in the park provide havens for wildlife.
Keep an eye out for the arid lakebed that produces mirages in the sweltering heat and be sure to enjoy the views afforded by Observation Hill.