Amboseli National Reserve covers 390 square kilometres in southern Kenya, close to the Tanzanian border. The name Amboseli comes from the word "empusel," which in the language of the local Maasai tribe means "salty dust." When you drive around in Amboseli you will certainly see and feel why the Maasai gave the park this name. The world's highest free standing, snow-covered equatorial mountain, Kilimanjaro gave the park and surroundings its appearance. The “old” volcano periodically erupted and covered the area with dusty volcanic ash. Nowadays the melting snows of Kilimanjaro flow underground into the park and make Amboseli quite lush in places. Most wildlife have their favourite places and the easy access to water in the park makes Amboseli a top place for many animal species.
By the 1930s, the area was very popular with hunters, photographers and filmmakers. In 1974, the government of the now independent nation of Kenya designated Amboseli as a National Park, setting aside the land exclusively for wildlife and tourism. The Maasai, the ancestral inhabitants of the land, were sent to live outside the new park's boundaries. On September 28, 2005, The Minister for Tourism and Wildlife published an official notice declaring that Amboseli National Park was to become Amboseli National Reserve. The reserve is now placed under the care of the Olkejiado County Council compared to previously when Amboseli National Park was managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Olkejiado County Council is formed of a coalition of Maasai communities who have lived in and around the Amboseli region for centuries. For the Amboseli Maasai this was a long desired wish, but many experts are still debating this decision and only time will tell who was right.
Amboseli has an elephant population of around 1100 animals and this population is one of the few in Africa which didn’t suffer from poaching. Cynthia Moss did an extensive study about the Amboseli elephants and a book was written about them: Elephant Memories. The reserve has an open character which makes spotting lions much easier. Here the chance of seeing a so called kill is much higher than anywhere else in Kenya. The African Buffaloes have increased in numbers the past couple of years and the fascinating animals can be seen bathing and feeding in the swaps. Also plains animals like zebra, giraffes, wildebeests, impala and antelope are in large numbers to be found in the reserve. The famous migration of the animals which follow the rains is also an annual event in Amboseli. Animals like antelope, eland and also elephants migrate between Amboseli and Tarangire (Tanzania). Sometimes this means that the reserve is not as crowded with animals as one might suspect.
The Satao Elerai project is a community project. The concept is to provide a sustainable income from tourism for the Maasai community in the area and to try and ensure that it is in the communities interest to protect the wildlife for generations to come. Amboseli has been a location where human-wildlife conflict has been an issue for many years, and it is projects like these that can over time ensure that communities start to benefit from wildlife and to ensure they invest in protecting and securing their future for their own benefit.
One of the biggest advantages of Satao Elerai Camp is that being located on its own private conservation area clients have the chance to view wildlife in private surroundings. In addition to this you can also enjoy spectacular bush sundowners, night game drives and game walks on the conservancy, activities that are not available to the lodges located within the park.