Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, is in Kajiado County, Kenya. The park is 39,206 hectares (392 km2; 151 sq mi)in size at the core of an 8,000 square kilometres (3,100 sq mi) ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture along the system of swamps that makes this low-rainfall area (average 350 mm (14 in)) one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world with 400 species of birds including water birds, pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, hammerkops and 47 types of raptor. The park protects two of the five main swamps, and includes a dried-up Pleistocene lake and semi-arid vegetation.
240 kilometers (150 miles) southeast from the capital city Nairobi, Amboseli National Park is the second most popular national park in Kenya after Maasai Mara National Reserve. The park is famous for being the best place in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet Maasai and visit a Maasai village. The park also offers spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
Amboseli was home to Echo, perhaps the most researched elephant in the world, and the subject of many books and documentaries, followed for almost four decades by American conservationist Dr Cynthia Moss. Echo died in 2009 when she was about 60 years old.
Amboseli offers some of the best opportunities to see African wildlife because the vegetation is sparse due to the long dry months. Amboseli National Park is home to many species, including African bush elephants, Cape buffaloes, impala, Masai lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, Masai giraffes, plains zebras and blue wildebeest among other African animals. There is also a host of Kenyan birds, both large and small.
The park has several rules to protect the wildlife: to never getting out of the vehicle, except at designated spots; to not harass the animals in any way; keep to the tracks; no off-road driving; and animals always have the right of way. The roads in Amboseli have a loose surface of volcanic soil that is dusty in the dry season and impassable in the wet season