When you stop to think of a Kenyan Safari, it’s tempting to follow the crowds to Masai Mara with its massive Wildebeest migration. But you will be pleased to know there is another option, Amboseli, only a few hours’ drive from Kenya’s capital city Nairobi and with its own unique appeal. For one, the park is not dependent on an annual event like migration; rather you can look forward to checking off the big five in a couple of hours. Secondly, the national park is well known for its massive herds of free-ranging African elephants, in fact, it’s estimated that there are over 900 African elephants in Amboseli. Thirdly, the park has the constant backdrop of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro.
Set at the heart of the park is Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge with its 92 rooms built to reflect the rich culture of the Maasai people and their Manyattas. The drive up to the lodge gives you a glimpse of what to look forward to with the road lined by acacia trees that attract giraffes harvesting leaves from the top of the trees. During the drive you are also bound to encounter a few Masai villages encircled with acacia fences, also something you should look forward to learning more about.
Once at the lodge, the first thing you need to know is that animals gather here every evening at a watering hole just steps from the back of the lodge. You can sit, have a drink and watch different groups gathering, such as impalas, zebras and wildebeests all together at the same time. Better yet, take a moment to just gaze at the snow capped peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance. The highest point in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro lies in Tanzania as it straddles the Kenyan/Tanzanian border and Amboseli offers the most spectacular views of the mountain.
But the essence of being on safari is setting out in search of game. Once you step out of the lodge, you can expect to be surrounded by hundreds of zebras, gazelles, wildebeest and buffaloes. The guides at Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge have an expert eye at spotting the animals ensuring that you have a true safari experience.
The guides also know their flora and fauna very well, especially the birds and would make the perfect day out for the avid bird watchers. The park is also home to about 400 bird species such as pelicans, cranes, kingfishers, water birds, hammerkops among others. Armed with a book on birds, the guide’s, intent on engaging and communicating with guests in the vehicle, will help spot the birds in the park and flip to a page of the bird identification book to show the corresponding illustration.
The best part of travelling is getting to know and understanding the culture of the local people. There is a Maasai village, a walking distance from the lodge, which is ideal for a visit and interaction with the Masai community. Take a walk-through tour and get an insight into their lives. Once at the village, you will get a chance to talk to the villagers, visit their Manyattas, visit the medicine man as he shows you some of the local remedies they use, light fire with stones as well as visit the local school. The highlight of the visit comes at the end though with a Maasai dance where you can join in.
And to cap an already full day is watching the sun go down, a must whenever one is on an African Safari. The African sunset is one for the books and never to be missed; and Amboseli always delivers! Perched at the observation hill, enjoying your Gin and tonic or your preferred drink.,makes sure to bring your camera with you to capture it in all its orange glory.