Parade of Elephants at Amboseli

After a relaxed day in Nairobi; on 28th September, we headed for Amboseli National Park, a huge park that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border (also accessible by air). We were driving on the Mombasa road when I saw giraffes grazing on the side of the road and immediately asked Patrick, our driver cum guide, to stop the vehicle. Finally, the cameras were out and the giraffes were being shot at. For a wildlife trip, a zoom lens of a minimum of 400 mm is a must for every photographer.

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Nikon D 800E, 200-500 mm f/5.6E, 500mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/800s

We moved on and took a diversion from the tarmac to a dusty and terrible road, the approach road to the park. But the animals, mostly giraffes and zebras on both sides of the road made the drive less tiring. After 6 (six) hours of continuous driving and covering almost 250 kms from Nairobi, we reached Amboseli National park. We checked into Kibo Safari Camp, located adjacent to the National park and sharing its fence. It is a huge and beautiful property with a view of the grand Mt. Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania, also the highest mountain in Africa.

All set for the safari – the hood of the van was up, cameras were ready to click and search for the animals was on. We saw a few baboons along the way to the park and at around 4.30 p.m., we were inside the park. For the afternoon safari, the park opens at 4 pm and closes at 6.30 pm. The park stretched beyond the reach of my eyes and on one side, stood the massive Mt. Kilimanjaro. The vegetation was sparse, roads were dusty and as we drove, we saw a herd of giraffes busy eating and strolling around.

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Nikon D 800E, 200-500 mm f/5.6E, 240mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/640s

In the midst of this overwhelming sight, I spotted a Masai ostrich, generally distinguishable from the common ostrich by its pink neck. A little ahead we saw a bunch of them crossing the road and the shutters were at work.

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Nikon D 800E, 200-500 mm f/5.6E, 420mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/1000s

The van moved on and there were black and white striped animals all around the park. I lost count of the zebras and just watched them basking in the light of the setting sun. The herd was followed by hundreds of wildebeests, impalas and grant’s gazelles grazing around. The sight of dead zebras also increased our hopes of sighting a big cat or possibly a hunt somewhere.

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Nikon D 800E, 200-500 mm f/5.6E, 500mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/640s

Amboseli is famous for its large number of African bush elephants, with huge tusks. We had come a long way inside but weren’t able to spot one. The first herd sighted was very far away in the swamps but we kept going deep into the park and suddenly, were welcomed with a sight of a parade of elephants (They were everywhere!!!).

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Nikon D 800E, 200-500 mm f/5.6E, 500mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/640s

The African elephants are huge and the tuskers moving along with the small ones in large groups was a sight worth everything.

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Nikon D 800E, 200-500 mm f/5.6E, 330mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/500s

Apart from these, we sighted hyena, hippo, warthog, dikdik. We also saw a variety of birds which include sacred ibis, vulture, egret, Egyptian goose, black headed heron, etc.

The sun was setting, and we had started our retreat from the park when suddenly our van was brought to a halt. The hues in the sky with the sun going down slowly against a solo acacia tree was a treat to watch.

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Nikon D 800E, 200-500 mm f/5.6E, 200mm, f/5.6, ISO 500, 1/1600s

After an eventful opening safari, we were ecstatic for the next ones. Back in the camp we had a sumptuous meal and enjoyed a half hour performance by the Masai tribe, an ethnic group inhabiting Kenya and Tanzania.

For all meat lovers: One can visit Kenya just for its food also. As expected of me, for both lunch and dinner, I went directly to the non-vegetarian segment, wherein, leaving aside the chicken dishes, I focused on the meats comprising variations (steak, meatballs etc.) of beef, pork and lamb. These dishes make the meals pretty satisfying every time and leaves one wanting for more.

A simple advice !! Your guide or the resort staff will try convincing you to visit the Maasai village (both in Amboseli and in Maasai Mara) which would include an entry fees of about USD 20-30 to see their culture and their way of life and spend more buying the stuff they sell. But, you can refrain from visiting such places, unless of course you are not on a budget, as the villages have been artificially made to attract tourists.

Stay tuned for updates on Nakuru and Maasai Mara.

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