Amboseli National Park
A shimmering landscape of mirages arising from the dried- up salt pan of the ancient Lake Amboseli, with the impossibly huge Mt. Kilimanjaro feeding the fresh water streams that water the marshes and swamps of Ol Tukai, and watching over park’s inhabitants, Amboseli is Kenya’s most popular destination for big game photography, home to the country’s largest elephants as well as buffalos, wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, gazelle and other plains game. Hippos silently guard the pools and marshes, which are frequently invaded by the animals seeking solace from the midday heat, as well as by the park’s numerous bird species, which are in themselves a special attraction of Amboseli. Amboseli National Park covers 392 sq km's, only a small portion of the surrounding 3000 sq km of the Amboseli ecosystem. The area is famous for the dramatic views of Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world, and the highest peak on the African continent. Kilimanjaro at 19,340ft or 5,894m rises dramatically out of the 4000ft (1,200m) Amboseli plains. An extinct volcano with two peaks, rocky Mwenzi and Kibo a crater rim. The glaciers on the mountain are slowly disappearing with global warming, but it remains snow capped as any precipitation on the mountain settles as snow. Despite being in Tanzania, the best views of the mountain are from Amboseli, with Tortilis Camp on a south-west hillside facing the mountain, having the most dramatic views of all. Amboseli is also famous for its elephant herds, which have been followed and documented by world renowned researcher Cynthia Moss. Amboseli has some of the largest elephants in Africa, and the guides at Tortilis Camp know the individual elephants, their family history, and are able to get very close to the habituated herds. Much of Amboseli incorporates the dried up bed of a Pleistocene lake, with lush deep fresh water springs in the middle of the park a haven for hippos and birdlife and a playground for elephants. As well as plentiful plains game and their predators, the area hosts its own eastern white bearded wildebeest migration, a population that is genetically separate from the Masai Mara/Serengeti population.