Swamps and springs fed by underground rivers from the melting snows of the mountain provide permanent watering places for the game while a nearby dried up lake bed produces a shimmering mirage in the daily heat.
The park was established as a reserve in 1968 and later on as a National Park in 1974. It covers 392 km2, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 sq Km Amboseli ecosystem. It is surrounded by 6 communally owned group ranches and the Park itself embodies 5 main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake - Lake Amboseli, that floods during years of heavy rainfall.
The climate is mainly hot and dry. Amboseli is in the rain shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The maximum average temperature of the warmest month is 33°C during the day, while that of the coldest is 27°C. An annual rainfall of 300mm is distributed in two seasons: April/May and November/December.
The park has a single airstrip for light aircraft at Empusel gate.
The observation Hill allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants.
In Amboseli, the following are some of the excursions Real Africa organizes for guests to make their safari more interesting:
Hot Air Balloon Safari
Take to the skies for the ultimate Amboseli wildlife adventure, soaring in a hot air balloon over herds of game to the inner reaches of the park. We’ll ascend in the early morning, when winds are calmest. Watch as the professional crew fills the balloon with hot air. Slowly the big, colorful bag begins to bulge and take shape. Now board the traditional wicker gondola basket while the expert pilot makes final adjustments. As the pink and red fireball of the sun rises in splendor over the plain, you’re up, up and away – for the flight of a lifetime! Your balloon can soar over the most inaccessible and undisturbed parts of the park, with only the intermittent whisper of the balloon’s gas burners punctuating the silence of your majestic flight. Because wind and weather conditions vary, every flight is a new and different experience! From your vantage point about 50-500 feet above the reserve, you have a fantastic 360-degree bird’s-eye view and of the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro as one of the most dramatic scenes in nature unfolds beneath you. You are most likely to observe groups of elephants grazing undisturbed in a remote ravine and zebras conferring in a confusion of black and white stripes and bark-like calls. After your incredible flight, it’s time to come back down to earth for breakfast. As you sip champagne and dig into a splendid breakfast of sizzling bacon, eggs, sausage, home-made breads, fresh tropical fruit and steaming cups of Kenyan coffee or tea. You might wonder what all the ordinary people are doing on this perfect African morning! Before leaving, the pilot will present you with your balloon flight certificate, and then you’ll enjoy a game drive en route back to the camp or lodge. No flight of the imagination can match this airborne experience!
“Camping” in East Africa has a different connotation than in other places. Based on the hunting safaris of years gone by, luxury camping has a devoted routine. These camps are set up in special locations off the beaten track usually within or adjoining the national parks or other wildlife areas. The camp is exclusively for the use of your group and at night there's no electricity or generator to disturb the sounds of the wilderness. But don’t take this to mean life’s little luxuries are missing. Tents are large with proper beds and en-suite facilities, with hot water for showers available at any time. There is sufficient camp staff to attend to all needs including servicing the tents and laundry. Meals are delicious bush cuisine and served in a mess tent or ‘al -fresco’. Because the camp is exclusive there is more flexibility where game drives are concerned and if something interesting is being observed, there’s no need to rush back for meals, they’ll wait. Luxury in the bush is a lifestyle that’s easy to get used to.
Sundowner Cocktails on the Observation hill
“Sundowners” are an African tradition, conveniently facilitated by the fact that on the equator, the sun sets at basically the same time every day! After a day of exciting game drives you limb the observation hill to relax and watch the sun go down while enjoying their favourite cocktail or beverage. From the observation hill you have a 360 degree view of the whole national park and a breeze of fresh air. These events can be a simple affair with the guide, a cool box and some snacks or an elaborate event with full open bar, hot and cold canapés and waiter service. Lots of laughs are the result of a ‘surprise’ sundowner event when the drivers pretend to be lost or some similar maneuver and end up at the pre-determined spot with the entourage of camp or lodge staff awaiting the group will big smiles. An added attraction can be a ‘mock attack’ by some of the friendly local tribesman followed by a display of traditional dancing. These events are always a hit with any size group.
After driving through wilderness for several hours searching for wildlife on an early morning game drive and with good success, stomachs begin to rumble and you’re ready for that second cup of coffee. Imagine, instead of driving all the way back to the lodge, breakfast is brought to you - right in the bush! A complete outdoor dining room is set under a grove of acacia trees in a pristine location. There are waiters standing by with chilled champagne and chefs are on hand to cook eggs to order. A full and complete breakfast is served in the tranquility of the bush. The peaceful feeling of the game drive is extended as nature surrounds you with its richness and breakfast never tasted so good.
Special Cocktail parties can be organized at any camp or lodge or in the bush. These events can be as simple or elaborate as clients prefer and make an especially nice welcome event.
Head out from lodge or camp to a wild and wonderful venue for a bush lunch. There’s nothing like enjoying a delicious meal in the wilderness. Service is set in the shade of convenient trees with bird song for musical accompaniment. Lunch, served buffet style, consists of “nyama choma”, (bar-be-que meats African style) and a selection of salads as well as other complementary dishes. The meal is complete with dessert, tea and coffee and then it’s time to go back for a quick nap before the afternoon game drive.
Dine under the endless canopy of stars that is the African sky. The exceptional setting, resplendent with campfires, fine wine, excellent bush cuisine and attentive staff is hard to beat. The experience of being away from the lights of camp or lodge with wild sounds of the nocturnal creatures as a backdrop is something which will feature in the memory of any safari. Dinner is usually a traditional barbeque with some typical African dishes included. Entertainment can be provided by a guitarist, traditional dancers, acrobats and we can also have a disco with music played from a small cd player! The best thing with such events is that everyone becomes a musician or dancer - you name it! We always have to force people to go back to the camp or lodge...
A special evening in the bush with candlelight and campfires. Maasai clothes grace the tables and dinner is traditional barbeque with a Maasai orientation and of course - fine wines. All dinners dress in Maasai traditional regalia as do the waiters. Entertainment is provided by Maasai warriors - song and dance.
Maasai warriors will entertain guests with performances of their tribal ceremonies. The traditional ”call and respond” songs may be in praise of warriors who have killed a lion or had a successful cattle raid. There are also songs and dances of love, courtship and marriage. These colourful exhibitions are always a hit with guests who are welcome to join in.
Visiting a Traditional Masai Village
Here’s your chance to experience what Masai tribal life is like as you walk through a traditional manyatta or compound. After being greeted by the village chief, your guide will escort you around the village and explain the cultural history and practices of the Masai and how they are adapting to modern life. See the dung huts formed into a circle and surrounded by a fence fashioned from broken thorn trees to keep wildlife away from their prized cattle. The tour finale will be a cultural performance by the young men of the tribe – the famed warrior “morans.” This is truly an experience you will long remember.