August 9 – Elephant Parade
Having never been on a safari before this trip you don’t know exactly what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to wake up at 6 AM, have a good breakfast and then get into our 4×4 at 7 AM and not see any real animals for close to 90 minutes. On our ride from the camp area to Amboseli Park we saw a few zebra, a couple of giraffe and two ostriches making whoopee. It was a long dusty ride of more than 50 km to the entrance of the park. Once we entered the park not much changed.
We encountered some antelope, a few more zebras and some wildebeest. We kept driving and our driver, Suruni, and our tracker, Daniel, kept telling us that the elephants make a trek from the forested areas to the wetlands every day between 9 – 11 AM. Little did we understand what they were talking about. We came to a clearing where in the distance was a pack of at least 50 elephants and they just kept coming towards us. We were parked right between the trees and the wetlands and the elephants had to pass right by our 4×4 to get to the wetlands. Well, we must have seen over 150 elephants ranging from babies just a few months old to one big, I mean big, elephants whose tusks nearly touched the ground.
I must have taken over 200 pictures and a video of two elephants fighting with each other. The pictures were amazing and the parade of elephants is something that I will never forget. The entire day was made by this exquisite sight. Most of the other jeeps and bush pigs left and we asked Suruni if there was anything better to see than waiting for the next set of elephants to come through. So, we waited another 30 minutes and saw another few dozen elephants come through.
After we were done with the elephants we headed over to the Serena Lodge in the park to check it out and use the facilities. On all of our trips the guides bring tea and drinks so there is a constant need to use the bathroom. Good thing there are some nice lodges in the park to stop at. We then headed for lunch and had a very nice lunch under a tree in the park.
The park is right at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, but the mountain was covered in clouds the entire day and we never got to see the peak of the mountain during our stay. We could see where the mountain began and then it disappeared into the clouds. It is one of the biggest mountains in the world, but the warm and cold air around the mountain caused the clouds to hover all day. It would have been nice to see the mountain but the elephants made sighting the mountain unnecessary.
After lunch we drove around some more and headed for a small hill that is called the observatory. We parked the truck and hiked up the hill to the top. At the top you could see the entire wetlands. When you drive within the wetlands you can’t understand how big it is, but from this hilltop you could see everything. We got some wonderful pictures from the top of the hill and then headed back to the truck to head to camp.
Everyone was pretty tired at this point and we assumed we would just get back to camp and all take a nap. That was not the case. About 15 minutes from camp Suruni pulled off of the road and started driving right into the bush. We ran over one small tree and then another and I asked where he was going. He told us that the other vehicle had spotted some lions and we were going to find them. About 15 minutes later of driving through heavy brush we came upon 6 female lions laying around under some bushes staying out of the sun. We sat in the truck for the next 30 minutes watching the lions and taking picture after picture of the lions. I took individual shots and some of a group of them. There were a few with the biggest lion roaring and a few with three and four heads looking at us. This was an amazing end to our day.
We are now back at camp and took nice warm showers. We will have dinner around 7:15 tonight and then go to sleep pretty early. Tomorrow we have a 4 plus hour drive back to Nairobi, lunch in Nairobi and then a flight to the Masai Mara tomorrow afternoon. We ran into a couple that just returned from the Mara and they said it was absolutely incredible. There are close to 1.4 million wildebeest involved in the migration this year and they said we had to take the hot air balloon while we are there. We will see how this all plays out, but we have 4 full days of game drives to see the Great Migration in action. I am looking forward to seeing some crocodiles ripping some wildebeest to pieces trying to cross the river. Nature at its finest!
‘Til next time …..