Amboseli National Park offers one of the most classic images of Kenya, the huge mountain of Kilimanjaro, with its 5,985 m dominating the plains like a powerful god ruling the world from his silver throne. Before the missionary, Johannes Rebmann discovery of the mountain to Western culture in 1848, the old Swahili and Arab legends spoke of a mountain in the interior, whose summit lived a terrible god who punished those who dared to approach his dwelling by paralyzing the feet and hands. Thus, the inhabitants of the tropical shores described a stranger to them phenomenon freezing.
Interestingly, Kilimanjaro is not within the limits of Amboseli, in fact, it is not even in Kenya. But Tanzanians have not yet found a way to prevent one of the most famous views of their mountain is provided by their neighbors. Actually, if you look at the map you’ll see that the absurdly straight line between the two countries deviates from a deliberately to leave the mount in Tanzanian territory. The reason? When the partition of East Africa into two spheres of influence, British and German, England and Germany had two mountains none, so Queen Victoria gave the Kilimanjaro his nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II on the occasion of his birthday, and deal left everyone satisfied.
The national park was created in 1974 with an area of 392 km², though it is surrounded by a much larger reserve occupied by the Maasai people. Amboseli is located in the Rift Valley province, near the Tanzanian border northwest of Kilimanjaro. Despite the high temperatures, the lands of Amboseli are above 1,180 m. The summits of the mountains are hidden by clouds for much of the day. The best time to have the opportunity to spot his flat head is at dawn.
The Amboseli territory belongs to the Maasai country, the legendary warrior tribe of nomadic shepherds who feed on a mixture of blood and milk. The Maasai continue to live today as they always have in reserve surrounding the park, grazing their herds and moving their belongings in search of better pastures. During their migrations, restricted today, the Maasai build their villages, called Sengkang ‘or more popularly manyatta or emanate, with wooden sticks and cow dung. With her slender bodies, their hieratic and proud faces, their colorful costumes and twisted and dyed red hair, maasais offer great plasticity photographer, but for your own safety never retreats them without your permission.
Amboseli is a very fragile ecosystem, subject to large seasonal variations. Basically, the ground is dry, with low annual rainfall between 350 and 400 mm. The northwestern portion of the park is occupied by the bed of Lake Amboseli, which is nothing but an immense fiery earth cracked salt pan in which flit whirlwinds of dust during much of the year. The mirages blend with the herds of zebras and wildebeest, who walk the crestfallen bed and in single file, with a weary and lost air.
During the wet season, the rains flood the lake bed and much of the adjacent land. However, this abundance of water does not allow us to hold a wide variety of plant life. The reason are the salts of the lakebed, which disperse water soaking the plain and slowing the growth of plants. This is the reason why the park has few trees, only a few scattered acacias. Conversely, the salt-rich pastures grow and are very appreciated by the herbivores.
Despite the first impression of a dry and dusty ground, actually Amboseli is overflowing with water in any season, but underground. The Snows of Kilimanjaro melt and run downhill, soaking the porous layers of volcanic rock from underground. They thus form several underground streams that converge into two clear water springs in the heart of the park and come to the surface in many parts forming large swamps as Loginya Swamp, where the papyrus grow and frolic elephants, hippos, and buffaloes, with its cutting cattle egrets.
Amboseli’s geography is so simple that its description reminds treasure maps pirates. The vast plain starts in the dry bed of Lake Amboseli, which welcomes visitors with its bleak picture. To the south and east the area called Ol Tukai, a patch of lush vegetation where some of the lodges located appears. South of these appears a forest of palm trees, a cool oasis providing water, shade, and shelter for many animals.
On both sides of palm forest wetlands extend, and in the western part rises the Observation Hill, the only land elevation, a gentle hill that rises to walk and offers a magnificent panorama of the park. Further south, the layers of volcanic rock ejected by the volcano hundreds of years ago come to the surface, turning the landscape into a badlands. At the edge of the lava flow lies another of the lodges, the Amboseli Serena. Finally, on the southern edge of the park are several Maasai villages next to the Tortilis camping.
Amboseli is under strong degradation by both tourists and natives. The flat and sparse geography of the park facilitates the movement off the track, but this practice destroys pastures, so the authorities insist that marked paths must be respected. As for the Maasai, continue to drive their cattle inland areas of the park, a prohibited practice but which nobody dares to curb. At the end of the day, the Maasai were evicted from their land and once, when the city of Nairobi was founded.