Even if you’ve never heard of Amboseli you’re probably familiar with its most iconic vista, that one of herds of elephants tracking slowly past the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro. It’s the quintessential image of East African safaris, but there are more reasons to visit this compact national park than one, admittedly awesome, view.
Amboseli’s elephants have endured despite the East African poaching crisis. Thanks to the presence of tourists and researchers – and the vital support of local Masaai communities – this is one of Kenya’s jumbo strongholds.
It’s important to consider Amboseli National Park in the context of the wider Amboseli ecosystem. This dusty savannah remains largely unfenced and wildlife disperses during the wet season into the surrounding lands – some of which are now Masaai-owned conservancies where it’s possible to enjoy intimate walking safaris and night drives.
Justin Francis, chief executive and co-founder of Responsible Travel explains just how important these conservancies can be: “few people realise there are actually five separate migrations in East Africa – not just the one in the Masai Mara. One of these happens in Amboseli. It’s not anywhere near the same scale – around 2,400 animals – so don’t go thinking you’re seeing an alternative to the Great Migration, but you’ll still see plenty of wildlife. It’s also perilously threatened and there needs to be real incentives for local landowners to keep the land accessible to wildlife and to protect it. Wildlife tourism with profits going directly to local people is key”.
And therein lies Amboseli’s real beauty – a pioneering community-led approach to tourism and conservation that generates local income and a greater protection for wildlife.