The Isiolo District lies at the northern foot of Mt Kenya rising above the expansive range lands of northern Kenya.
The arid and semi-arid zones district sits as a divide between the populous agricultural highlands of the Mt. Kenya region and acts as a gateway into the vast lowlands of North Kenya inhabited by various nomadic pastoralist communities where wildlife and livestock freely co-exist.
Together with the adjacent Samburu, and divided by the river Ewaso Nyiro, the three reserves form a very popular tourist destination because of the diverse wildlife populations they support.
Unlike other wildlife areas in Kenya’s northern tourist circuit, the reserves, which are popularly known as the Samburu Ecosystem, sustain free ranging wildlife species both within the three reserves as well as far into community lands.
Climatic Conditions – Temperatures range from 30ºC during hottest months to 20ºC between July and September. Annual rainfalls range between 100mm to 300mm on average usually divided into two seasons, short rains in October/ November and long rains between February and May.
Wildlife – Besides normal species found elsewhere in Kenya, the area is a natural home to the five rare species known as the five northern species which are endemic to this area. They are Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Beisa Oryx, Somali ostrich and the gerenuk. Shaba is also the home for the highly endangered Williamson’s lark. All these rare species can only be found inside this game reserve.
Access – Roads: From Nairobi through Nanyuki on a tarmac road to Isiolo, then a 22km murram road. Air: Buffalo Springs Airstrip is used by scheduled flights from Nairobi each day linking the reserves to other tourism destinations.
Best time to visit – All the year round
Activities – Game viewing safari, nature walks, entertainment by pastoralist cultural dancers, and visits to cultural villages to get the experience of nomadic lifestyle in the community.
Amboseli lies immediately north-west of Mount Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. The Park covers 392 square km, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 square km Amboseli ecosystem.
Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular tourist destination. It is surrounded by six communally owned group ranches.
The National Park embodies five main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, that floods during years of heavy rainfall.
Amboseli is famous for its big game and its great scenic beauty – and the landscape is dominated by the towering Mount Kilimanjaro.
Major Attractions: Mount Kilimanjaro; Observation Hill which allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants; Swamp below observation hill hosts many elephants, buffaloes, hippos and a variety of water fowl like pelican; Egyptian goose; contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous lifestyle; herds of elephants.
Wildlife: Amboseli has over 80 different mammals to be found ranging from the tiny (and rarely seen) spectacled elephant shrew to the huge bulk of the African elephant. Few visitors will go home without superb elephant pictures with Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. There are over 400 bird species.
Getting there – By Road: The main road into the park is from Nairobi via Namanga (240 km) on the Nairobi-Arusha Road, via Meshanani Gate. The road is tarmaced up to Namanga but is murram from Namanga to Meshanani Gate (75km).
The other road is via Emali (228 km) on the Nairobi- Mombasa Road. The road is tarmaced up to Emali and murram from Emali to Remito Gate (64 km) Access from Mombasa is mainly through Tsavo West via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate.
By Air: The Park has an airstrip at Empusel gate. There is also an airstrip for light aircraft at the Park Headquarters (Olekelunyiet). Other airstrips exist at Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge and Namanga town.
Where to stay – Amboseli has a range of accommodation to suit all budgets, tastes and interests. There are very basic campsites where one can pitch a tent and sleep under canvas in the wild, well appointed safari lodges, luxury tented camps with large, fully furnished tents, small private camps for your exclusive use and much, much, more.