Against the magnificent backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro lies Amboseli, a National Park and ecosystem. Meaning the ‘salty earth’ in the language of the Maasai, Amboseli is aptly named after the salty volcanic ash that spewed from the now dormant volcano Kilimanjaro. The 5,000 square kilometre ecosystem lies on Kenya’s border with Tanzania and incorporates habitats of dry lake beds, savannah grasslands, woodlands and swamps fed by springs emanating from the mountain.
The area is home to grassland dwellers such as buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, gazelle and warthog, while the resident predators include lion, cheetah and hyena. Amboseli is also a birding hot spot, with over 600 species recorded.
The principal attraction at Amboseli however, are the large herds of free roaming elephants made famous by Dr. Cynthia Moss and Dr. Joyce Poole who, through the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, put these intelligent giants on the map. The longest running large mammal research project in Africa, the project combines three decades of uninterrupted study and chronicles Amboseli’s elephant herds, from new born calves to sixty year old matriarchs and old bulls that carry some of the longest tusks in Africa.
Contiguous with Amboseli National Park is the Kitirua Wildlife Conservancy, a partnership between a local Maasai community and the private sector. Designed to protect wildlife, this private and exclusive conservancy enables both day and night drives, walking and an unparralleled opportunity to meet members of the Maasai community in a welcoming and culturally sensitive manner.
This is a quintessential African landscape of elephants and traditional tribes with the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rising above the clouds behind.