The ecosystem of the park is comprised of mainly savannah and grassland plains, but there are various habitat types, which also include swamps, dry lake beds, marshland, thick thorn bush and acacia forest. Volcanic ash from the eruptions of Kilimanjaro a millennium ago form heat-wave mirages in the dry season, inspiring the name ‘Amboseli’, meaning ‘salty dust’ in local Maasai. The arid appearance is somewhat deceptive, however, as the basin is constantly fed by springs from the mountain’s ice caps in the middle of the park. The springs and their magnetism explain the famous diversity of wildlife and birdlife that can be experienced.
Sometimes described as ‘Africa’s Elephant Park’, it is true that the area is one of the best places in Africa to observe family groups of elephants and large bull elephants at close range. Aside from this, there are 56 known animal species in the park, and you are likely to see Grevy’s and Burchell's zebra, white-bearded wildebeest, eland, buffalo, hartebeest, hippo, giraffe, wild dog, waterbuck, jackal, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle and impala. If you are lucky you may also come across big cats such as lion and cheetah, as well as hyena.
The spring waters also attract a vast array of birds, such as hammerkop, kingfisher, pelican, crake, egret and 47 types of raptor.