We entered Amboseli on the first “Best of Kenya” safari in the late afternoon, with a fantastic sunset on the dry lake. The scenery here is so amazing and dramatic. We photographed some tracks of animals crossing the lake with the sunset behind, taking in the beauty and mystery of this fascinating land.
As usual, our primary target here in Amboseli were the Elephants. On both safaris, “Best of Kenya 01” and “Best of Kenya 02”, we had extraordinary encounters, especially on the dry Amboseli pan. After the heavy rains of March and April, some grass has grown on the pan and Elephants are often spending the night there, grazing in the middle of the lake, with the calves playing and the bulls challenging each other. I recognized many Elephants I have seen in previous trips, and it’s always a relief to find them alive and well, esepecially in these troubled times of heavy poaching for ivory.
Many families gathered in the Longinye swamp in the heart of the park. Mornings were cold so Elephants used to come out of the forest in mid morning. It was very dry and windy, so huge clouds of dust were raised as they walked. A fantastic sight. However, I was very upset with the behavior of many guides, speeding on the road, racing to get in front of the Elephants, sometimes even blocking them completely and upsetting them. I feel that a lot of improvement must occur in the whole kenyan guiding policy and system as it is not possible having to constantly tolerate such ruthless and disrespectful behavior towards animals and other visitors. I also don’t understand why the KWS keeps on building huge roads inside the parks, encouraging people to increase the speed and opening up the park to sub-standard vehicles and drivers.
On the first afternoon of the second safari the park was hit by a severe dust storm, with heavy winds blowing and dust everywhere. It was fascinating to watch Elephants and Wildebeests endure the storm and continuing with their lives. The sun broke through the clouds briefly. It’s for moment like these that I love Amboseli. Hundreds of Elephants left the swamp and crossed the road in front of us, completely alone while all other people had left due to the storm. The deafening sound of the wind, the dust in our eyes, a thick cloud cover all around and these extraordinary creatures making their way through the land, peaceful, graceful, silent and majestic. An extraordinary evening.
During this week in Amboseli we were greeted by a number of Lions sightings, from three different prides, quite extraordinary for Amboseli standards. One morning we found two Widebeests carcasses with Lions eating and Hyenas trying to steal their food. Two male Lions left the scene as the sun came up, retreating into the palms. We also spent a morning with a group of four females and seven cubs.
As much as the Lions and Elephants are fantastic, this time the most striking encounter was probably the one we had on a cloudy morning with a tiny mammal which I had never seen before in daylight, a Spring Hare. We found it in the short grass plains leaping around, even coming close to the vehicle. Spring hares live in colonies in the short grass plains, spending the daytime in burrows and only coming out at night. This one probably stayed out late due to the cold weather and the clouds. For the first time I had the chance to photograph this extraordinary creature and it was a real treat on the last day of my guests’ safari!