Exploring Amboseli

The land cruiser has stalled!!

Maina revs the engine of the old KAU one more time…  nothing!

We are stuck at Meshanani Gate of Amboseli National Park;  Maasai women are milling around the vehicle showing us beautiful artefacts and speaking rapidly in Maa.

A KWS mechanic is summoned, he pops his head under the cruiser’s hood, touches this, that. From where I’m standing, he doesn’t look optimistic!

“Wacha tuskume gari tuone kama itawaka”.

Maina jumps into the vehicle, a couple of us move to it’s rear and push. The old KAU sputters once, twice then roars back to life! The trip is back on!

Hot, dry, dusty, Amboseli certainly lives up to its name. The name Amboseli means salty dust in Maa. As the vehicle hurtles through the park, blowing white dust in its wake, we see the lone zebra amble by, one of those iconic images of the park… much like the lone acacia tree in the Masai Mara. A herd of wildebeest loiter about about as does a few Thompson gazelles.

Then out of the blue, we come across a green oasis fed by a swamp in which a couple of elephants are frolicking, a huge contrast to the sun baked land we had driven past. Amboseli National Park lies in south west Kenya, against the background of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain that stands in neighbouring Tanzania. Melted snow from the mountain flows in underground streams and eventually surface as swamps in the park. These swamps are the lifeblood of this otherwise parched region for both the people and the wildlife.

KAU stalls one more time near a school (sigh!); the locals quickly rush to our aid and we eventually drive in to Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, a welcome respite after the long trip. Thankfully, check in is swift, and we’re soon seated at the restaurant staring at a huge mural of two ostriches quarreling as we wait for soup to be served. The thing with the Serena group of hotels, lodges and camps is that the food never misses; it hits the spot every time.  The lodge pays homage to a Maasai homestead with the rooms mirroring a Maasai manyatta, from the low ceilings to the mud brown exterior to the colourful beaded decor on the light fixtures and pillows.

While a dip in the lodge’s pool would have been the best way to while away the rest of the day, we head out for an evening game drive, golden hour after all is the best time to be on safari. We spot elephants having their last swim before retiring for the day and a herd of wildebeests and zebras heading home.

Maina gets a radio alert from a fellow driver guide that ‘kichwa’ has been spotted! We make a mad dash to the area to find a lioness chilling, with absolutely no interest in the herds of topis and gazelles nervously grazing close by. And then finally, Kili makes an appearance. As the popular saying goes, the mountain might be in Tanzania but the best views are from Kenya. Kili + Sunset = Magic!

 

As we drive out the park, we have a stand off with an elephant calf who is out taking a morning stroll and in no hurry whatsoever and a giraffe having breakfast. There’s so much more to do at Amboseli apart from game drives: visit a Maasai village or school (I visited 3), take a small hike to Observation Hill, the highest point in the park, bush breakfast and sundowners.  Click here to read about my adventure packed weekend in Amboseli two years ago.

Have you been  to Amboseli? Let me know!

 

 

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