After an incredible trip to Tanzania, we crossed the border into Kenya and met our new guide for Kenya John, a former school teacher and passionate ornithologist. Although the road from the border to Amboseli National Park was all dirt and it was common to drive miles before seeing another vehicle, it was enjoyable, with a gazelle at one stage racing our van (before easily racing off into the distance).
To reach our lodge for the next few days, we had to drive through the park which was fantastic of sneaking in a cheeky mini extra safari for the day. The roads in Amboseli were of much better quality than the previous safaris we had been in and thus it was the norm to safari via a minibus with a roof top (compared with 4wd in Tanzania). Wide open spaces with giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, elephants and gazelle scattered across the plains. After a quick settle in at the lodge, we headed back to the park for a first proper Amboseli Safari
One of the most famous things about Amboseli is the incredible Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world as the backdrop. That afternoon there was some cloud covering it so over the next few days we were hoping for it to clear up.
Around the water areas was large areas of luscious green grass filled with dozens of elephants. The herds were just enormous, as were the elephants themselves. Beautiful tusks and happy faces. One elephant had just gone for a swim and wandered right over near us before grabbing lots of dust and covering himself, a practice aimed to both dry and protect from the sun, ie natural sunscreen.
While watching these beautiful majestically beautiful creatures, we noticed something moving in the grass on the other side of the van. We would see a glimpse of orange/yellow amongst the green grass before it would vanish again just as quickly only to suddenly reappear a few minutes later. There was something out there. A cat of some sort. Ooooo the excitement was running high in the van. 10 minutes went by and we thought we had lost it, before suddenly out of the grassed walked a cat. A Serval cat!!! Woooo I have never seen one before in my life, not even in zoos, so this was just incredible. What an amazing creature. The cat looked like it was hunting something in the grass, mice and rats is what our driver John told us.
The sun began to set and so we had to head back. What a drive back it was though, our driver was admiring the sunset so much that he didn’t notice the large speed bump on the road resulting in the van hitting it at speed and getting some air. We ended up in all sorts of positions in the back of the van, fortunately no one was injured. But back to the distraction – the sunset. The colours it produced were just incredible – 0ranges, yellows, and purples. On the road home, we had to briefly stop for a couple of giraffes lazily crossing the road.
A new day another exciting safari and to make things even better, the clouds had cleared and we had what could only be described as the perfect view of the glorious Mt Kilimanjaro!!!
Hyena cackles, zebra dazzles and elephant herds were the animals of the day as well as a very entertaining hippo. Two hippos were lying on the bank of the water when a bird flew in and tried to land on one of them to rest and eat. This hippo however must have a grudge against birds for he wasn’t having a bar of it. He even made the effort (which for a hippo is a lot) to get up and run back and forth waving his head around and opening his mouth trying to get rid of the bird, much to our entertainment as the bird continued to try land on him as if it was taunting him. After much frustration from the hippo, the bird eventually flew over to the more relaxed hippo who was unphased by the bird landing on him and not the least bit bothered by the new hitch-hiker.
We managed to score ourselves a punctured tire, so put on the spare then headed to one of the hotels in the park itself which also had a mechanic/gas station. While waiting in the van for everything to get sorted, we got the shock of our lives as a monkey jumped in through the open roof, stuck his paw into a pringles can sitting on the chair, then bolted out through the open door, all within the blink of an eye. This was further compounded at lunch back at the hotel where a monkey ran into the dining room, grabbed as many bread rolls as he could (two in his mouth, one in each hand), then bolted out. All though entertaining to us, it is quite a problem, to the point where the hotels have a Masai monkey security team… Which unfortunately this time had been outsmarted by the monkeys who had distracted him in one direction while others run in from the other. Hahaha
That afternoon we went and visited a Masai village and were shown around by a lovely guy named Buffalo. He speaks fluent English as well as Swahili and his native Masai Tongue. He was the nicest guy spending hours with us explaining their culture, traditions and lifestyle including views on marriage, children, medicine, education and family. We met a few Masai warriors. Masai become warriors when they are around the age of 25-30, they train, grow their hair long, get circumcised and will become the protectors of the village. Masai men can have many wives, but they have to pay their wife’s family in cattle, etc. They also have to have separate houses for each wife. The weddings are big ceremonies and may go for days. There is no honeymoon afterwards and the wife moves to where the husband is. Marriage is for life.
The next morning was our last drive in Amboseli before heading to Nairobi. On the way to the park we spotted a very baby giraffe, not more than a couple of days old. How did we know? The little fella still had an umbilical cord attached to his belly button. So adorable.
Amboseli is a beautiful place, full of large herds of beautiful elephants and a magnificent Mt Kilimanjaro as a back drop.