Best time to visit Amboseli National Park

Amboseli can be visited year-round, but for best wildlife watching avoid the rainy seasons.
The dry season from June to October is generally considered the best time to see wildlife in Amboseli; with little rain falling wildlife retreats to the park’s swamps where underground water from Kilimanjaro wells up permanently year-round. However, this is also peak season – and as Kenya’s most popular national park (after the Masai Mara) you’ll need to book early to secure accommodation during these months. Don’t expect to have the wildlife to yourself at this time of year – vehicles will congregate around the swamps and on the park’s limited network of trails. For a quieter safari consider January to February, after the short rains (which peak in November) have dispersed. Or, stay in one of Amboseli’s conservancies to avoid peak crowds – only 18 guests are welcomed at the Selenkay camp at one time, for example, and you’ll only venture into the conservancy if you’re a guest there. So even at full capacity you’ll be gloriously secluded. The April and May long rains, which bring torrential downpours and washed-out roads, are best avoided.

Things to do in Amboseli National Park

Things to do in Amboseli National Park...

... Stay on a conservancy, where profits from safaris go directly to local Masaai communities – who work in and manage lodges and camps on their own land. And you’ll have a chance to enjoy intimate walking safaris and night-time game drives not permitted in the park proper. ... Bring your family. The park’s compact size means travel times are short, and with wildlife packed into a small area little ones will be well entertained. ... Be prepared to get dusty. Sitting in the rain shadow of Kilimanjaro, Amboseli receives little rain, and its vast, flat lakebed has a reputation as being a bit of a dust bowl. Even its name reflects its dryness – coming from the Masaai word for ‘salty dust’.

Things not  to do in Amboseli National Park...

... Fly there. It takes just four hours to travel the 240km to Amboseli from Nairobi by road – in the most part on good, smooth tarmac. So that light aircraft flight – a killer for your vacation carbon footprint – is not a necessity.
... Self drive. There’s no law against driving yourself around Amboseli – you’ll need a 4x4 if you do – but you’ll learn so much more traveling with an expert ranger who will know how to find wildlife, and share their knowledge of the park’s ecosystems and habitats.
... Think its conservation success has been plain sailing. Amboseli may be a conservation success story now, but periodically this park and its wildlife has been brought to its knees juggling an influx of tourists, protectionist conservation strategies and a frustrated local Masaai population.

Amboseli National Park travel advice

Itinerary advice

Justin Francis, chief executive and co-founder of Responsible Travel knows Amboseli National Park well. He shares his tips: “You’re unlikely to see Amboseli on its own – it’s a small park, very dry, very flat. It’s still exciting, and the birdlife is astonishing, but after a while the open savannah becomes a bit unending as it offers very little variety. That’s why you’ll want to combine a safari in Amboseli with the beach, or with one of Kenya’s other parks. The Masai Mara is a popular option, but you’re still comparing savannah with savannah. For a real contrast I’d recommend the nearby Chyulu Hills which are greener, more forested and simply beautiful.”

Our top Amboseli National Park Vacation

Kenya wildlife camping safari

Kenya wildlife camping safari

Game watching morning, afternoon and night

From £2375 8 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made btween Jan - Mar and Jul - Oct to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Amboseli National Park or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Advice from our travelers

“Stay at the Porini camps if possible – they are small and usually the only camp on the conservancy so you are not surrounded by nine other jeeps looking at the same animals. They also take you on night game drives, which you cannot do in the reserves, which is a whole new experience.” - Anna Economides

“This safari is especially amazing because most of your drives are not at the parks. This allows you to go "off road" but the guides are very careful to keep enough respectful distance for the animals. You also drive morning and evenings when more animals are out.” - Amanda Popik
If you are able to go outside of the school vacations, the reduction in numbers of people at the camps and everywhere generally is very pleasant.
- Olivia Maes
Written by Sarah Faith
Photo credits: [Page banner: oversnap] [Top box: Xiaojun Deng] [Saferi with Maasai guide: Regina Hart] [Olivia Maes review: Kandukuru Nagarjun]
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