Amboseli National Park provides possibly the most varied and enduring images of East Africa with its vast open plains, yellow-barked Acacia woodland, rocky lava-strewn thorn-bush country, swamps and marshes, and dry lakebed. Further west of the Reserve lies Namanga, the border town into Tanzania. Above Namanga, Oldoinyo Orok rises to over 2,760m (8,300 feet), its rocky heights still largely zoologically unexplored. The snows of Kilimanjaro, white and crystalline, form a majestic backdrop to one of Kenya's most spectacular displays of wildlife, thus creating Kenya's most sought after photographers’ paradise. Usually the whole mountain basks in the morning sun, or evening light, other times its snowcap hovers above the clouds. Sometimes it vanishes completely under a mantle of thick cloud. The heart of the park is fed by subterranean streams flowing down from Kilimanjaro’s glaciers. These create swamps, which form permanent watering places for the wildlife through times of drought. They are frequented by Elephant, Hippo and plains’ game.
During the dry seasons a curious feature is the shimmering heat above the lakebed, where false mirages of populated horizons - punctuated by real herds of Zebra and Wildebeest, hover in front of visitors. The lakebed is subject to sporadic floods and noxious salts in the gravel bed are dissolved to serve as a deadly poison for what is left of the local forest. Very few of the fine acacias, once a feature of this region, remain. Meanwhile Maasai cattle are destroying the delicate but precious grassland. To sustain this fragile environment the National Reserve requests that vehicles stick to roads and tracks. The Park's best game drives are around the swamps and there is a fine lookout on Observation Hill, which offers views over Amboseli and beyond.