The sound from a single hot air balloon floating across the sky, several kilometres away, breaks the stillness of our first morning at the Amboseli Bush Camp. To the east, I see the sun begin to peek through the clouds, painting them a stunning and vibrant orange colour. And in front of me, zebras and elands gather to drink from a watering hole just below the camp’s lounge deck.
This is nature’s finest hour and here, everything is amplified. The flapping of wings, the tweeting of birds, the rustling of trees and the hooves of animals pounding against the ground. I take it all in, excited and grateful to be here at this moment…
Earlier in the week, Mark’s friend, Stephany, had asked if we would be interested in joining her small group for a weekend out of the city. Having never been to Amboseli before, we were all too excited to accept this invitation and now, after visiting, I would jump on any opportunity to return.
Nairobi to Amboseli National Park…
To optimize the weekend, we decide to leave Nairobi on Friday afternoon. We begin our journey from Nairobi to Amboseli, Kajiado County at 3 pm and arrive at the bush camp 4 hours later. Save for a few scary moments overtaking trucks, the drive is pretty good and is on well-tarmacked roads up until a few kilometres from the camp.
As we get closer to our destination, we begin to see some of the area’s resident wildlife along the road. We come across a few giraffes grazing close by and I can’t help but wonder if I would ever get used to this sight.
Amboseli Lodges – Amboseli Bush Camp
After a few more minutes of driving on dirt roads, we finally arrive at the Amboseli Bush Camp, our accommodation for the next two nights. The camp is a self-catering rustic accommodation with 3 safari tents – all ensuite with a toilet and shower, an outdoor fully-equipped kitchen, toilet, shower and a lounge area overlooking the Amboseli plains.
For $263, the camp is exclusively ours for the weekend. Spilt among 6 people, that price comes down to about $44 per person, per night – which I consider a good deal for a place like this.
The lodge’s staff welcome us as we arrive and then proceed to give us a tour of the place. In the lounge area, we see the silhouette of two elephants drinking at the watering hole. Our stay is already getting off to a great start and I have high hopes for excellent wildlife views over the next few days.
Luckily, I am not disappointed. Right from the deck, we see herds of elephants, zebras, elands, baboons, dik-diks and giraffes come through. Like clockwork, they come, one group after the other. It is all very exciting! So much so that I reconsider going into the park for a game drive.
I mean, what can beat watching a wild bull intimidate a herd of zebras from the comfort of your dining table?!
The last two of our group arrive an hour after us and we get acquainted as we prepare a dinner of homemade pizza baked in the wood-fired clay oven. Later in the evening, we sit around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and gazing at the stars. I am also introduced to S’mores – a favourite North American camping treat that is made of toasted marshmallows, chocolate and crackers. I love it!
It is an excellent end to our first day and the second is even better. We begin the day with elephant sightings at the watering hole, followed by an excellent breakfast spread…
Amboseli Bush Walk…
After breakfast, we sign up for a 2-hour bush walk with Dickson, a Maasai guide and staff at the lodge. During the walk, he educates us about the behavioural patterns of different animals and regals us with tales of the Maasai tribe.
We come across several giraffes, zebras and elephants in the distance and then, something interesting happens…
About an hour into our walk, we all notice a herd of zebras in the distance who seem unusually alert. Having seen this before at the Masai Mara when the Tano Bora was near, we suspect that a predator is close by. This should be our cue to go the other way or even end the walk altogether, I think to myself, but surprisingly, Dickson forges ahead boldly!
He notices fresh paw prints on the ground and identifies them as cheetah tracks. Then he asks if we would like to track them. ‘Them’ as in multiple cheetahs? I look at our group and I can already tell that if we were to run away from a cheetah – the fastest land animal, I would probably be the one to end up as prey – except of course if Mark fulfils his marital vows to me by saying the words ‘Go, Save Yourself!’ very dramatically…
‘Do you trust me?’ Dickson asks and after hearing all his stories about the old days of Masaai tracking and hunting lions, we all decide that we do.
Dickson follows the paw prints on the ground with the finesse that only a Maasai possesses, and would you believe that we find the cheetahs?! My heart is racing with excitement and I cannot believe our luck! With lightning speed, they disappear into the bushes, all 3 of them but Steven manages to capture one on camera as it fled.
We try to find them again but they are long gone. Dickson then takes us to see a hyena’s den, points out lion tracks on the ground and we end the bush walk shortly after.
After a successful and adventurous walk, we all return to the camp. While the others head out to the Amboseli National Park for an evening safari, Mark and I opt to remain behind. We spend the rest of the evening leisurely and end the day with a delicious dinner of pork, potatoes and burgers grilled on the campfire.
Morning Safari at Amboseli National Park…
The next morning, we drive out of the camp at about 5:30 am and arrive at the Amboseli National Park gate for opening time. We begin our safari just before sunrise and by the end of it, we have come across several animals and birds, including zebras, elephants, hippos, baboons, wildebeests, flamingos and so on.
But the icing on the cake is the sighting of a lion and lioness mating just as we are about to head back to the camp. Bless the guide who stops to tip us off on this.
When we arrive back at the lodge, Yaara and Adam have whipped up an impressive breakfast spread. We have breakfast and unwind for a few hours before making the journey back to Nairobi.
Planning Your Trip to Amboseli National Park…
Here are a few tips to help you plan your travels to Amboseli (and the Amboseli Bush Camp).
Amboseli Park Fees & Opening Times
The Amboseli National Park operates between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm daily. After 6:15 pm, visitors can no longer enter the park. During peak season (July to February), Kenyan Adult Citizens and Residents pay Sh800 to gain entry, while children pay Sh215. For Non-Residents, the fee is $70 for adults and $20 for children.
During the low season (March to June), the prices are Sh600/215 for citizens and residents and $40/20 for non-residents. There’s also a car entry fee of Sh300 for vehicles with less than 6 seats. You can find updated information on park fees here.
Best Time to Visit Amboseli National Park
The best time to visit Amboseli National Park is during the dry season, from June to September. It is easier to spot the resident wildlife during these months as the vegetation is less dense and more animals congregate for drinks at the watering holes.
This isn’t to say that you should not visit during the other months of the year because wildlife viewing is also possible then. In addition, you’re more likely to get a stunning view of Kilimanjaro just after it rains.
If you do visit during the rainy season, a 4WD is mandatory to navigate the terrain. Also, note that April and May usually have heavy rains, so plan accordingly.
If you’re considering hiring a driver and a guide for your trip, the ‘Get Your Guide‘ website is a good resource to find tours that suit your budget and timing…
PS: if you book a tour using the link below, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Is Amboseli National Park on your list of places to visit in Kenya or have you already been there? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!