Amboseli, the Maasai’s “Place of Dust”, is a small and very popular park, and often full of visitors. Scenically, however, it is redeemed by the stunning spectacle of Kilimanjaro towering over it and – in those clichéd but irresistible photos taken with telephoto lenses – appearing almost to fill the sky. In the right light, the snowy massif, washed coral and orange, is devastatingly beautiful. Sunrise and sunset are the most likely times to see the mountain, especially during the rainy season when the air is much clearer, but for the most part it remains tantalizingly shrouded in a thick shawl of cloud.

On the animal side, Amboseli is elephant country par excellence. You will see large herds, and some individuals with big tusks. Predators, apart from hyenas and jackals, are relatively scarce (lions are almost absent, thanks to the revenge wrought by the Maasai upon the expulsion of them and their herds from the park (see Amboseli’s history), but good numbers of herbivores are present. In the dry season, most of the animals crowd into the impenetrable marshy areas and patches of hardy acacia woodland where food plants are available. But during and shortly after the rains the picture is different, with the animals more dispersed and the landscape greener.

In the dry season, Amboseli can seem a parched, unattractive place, with Kilimanjaro disappointingly hazed into oblivion. Heading straight for the park’s centre at Ol Tukai, with its lodges, workers, filling station, fences and barriers, doesn’t improve first impressions. During the rains, however, it all looks far more impressive, with the shallow and seasonal Lake Amboseli partially filled, and a number of other seasonal lakes and ponds – the temporary home of small flocks of flamingos, pelicans and other migratory species – scattered across the landscape.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Kenya features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Dhows, donkeys and sundowners: why it's time to return to Lamu, Kenya

Dhows, donkeys and sundowners: why it's time to return to Lamu, Kenya

Lamu was once an essential stop during any trip to Kenya. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this historic Swahili town is home to wandering donkeys and lazy dhow…

09 Oct 2017 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
Saving the elephants: on the poaching frontline in Kenya

Saving the elephants: on the poaching frontline in Kenya

The African elephant is under constant threat from poachers, and numbers have fallen by one third in seven years. Joe Minihane journeyed to the Samburu reserv…

31 Jul 2017 • Joe Minihane local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook