Kenya diary: Elephants at Amboseli…

Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, is a national park in Kajiado South Constituency, Kenya, about 240 km southeast of Nairobi

The park is 39,206 hectares (392 km; 151 sq mi) in size at the core of an 8,000 km (3,100 sq mi) ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture along the system of swamps that makes this low-rainfall area, average 350 mm (14 in), one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world with 400 species of birds including water birds like pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, hamerkop and 47 raptor species.

The park protects two of the five main swamps, and includes a dried-up Pleistocene  lake and semiarid vegetation.

The park is famous for being the best place in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants.

Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet Maasai and visit a Maasai village. The park also has views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

And when it says above “get close to free-ranging elephants” well, I hadn’t expected to be standing in an ancient camper van, head and shoulders poking through the open roof amidst a herd of elephants crossing the track in front and behind us.

Close seemed too close!

I was quite scared at first, but our guide reassured us that the driver was alert to the herd and would move quickly, but we were to not to do anything to make them pay attention to us.

Standing in a what seemed like extremely fragile protection from these enormous elephants, I didn’t feel particularly convinced that we were safe, but we had had a 4.30am start, suffered a 4 hour drive along the Nairobi to Mombasa road, and I was in the midst of a herd of elephants that I had come all this way to try and see, so I started taking photos….

Being scared turned to being awed and I realised that I was really lucky to have this close experience…

We did have a little incident as we were further round the park.

A very large elephant was running along the side of the track, quite a distance away .

As we passed the elephant changed direction and started to chase our little tin can, sorry… camper van.

I managed two very close shots before the guide asked us to sit down as they were going to drive faster as the elephant was charging us. I instantly complied!

Amboseli park information from Wikipedia….

Kenya diary… Grey Crowned Cranes in a mating dance…

My very first post on my brand new WordPress site way back in 2013, when I thought I’d be a blogger, having done all my 101’s, before I launched myself out there in the big wide blogging world was a tiny and very nervous step into blogging and I just threw out a teeny, weeny little précis of a truly amazing weekend trip.

I re-visited my photographs during our current lockdown and was quite amazed that I actually managed to get some really good photos.

As well as it being my first foray into blogging, it was also my first trip with a proper camera, which I really didn’t know how to use properly, apart from the auto function. (FYI it was a NikonD3200, but I think I bought a few days before and had no idea of its many functions, so it was a point and shoot expedition)

I’d booked a random travel to Nairobi for a weekend on a special offer  (Dubai was a really good place for last minute special offers) and I booked a trip online to Amboseli National park.

I hadn’t quite taken into account that Amboseli was on the Tanzania border and was a 4 hour drive from Nairobi, but, hey-ho, when the company responded to my booking request and asked for a 4.30am pick-up, I just clicked the ok box!

Experience now tells me there were many closer places, but actually I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I cannot describe the African light, especially in Amboseli, it’s totally different to our polluted European (and other) skies….

The day was a magical experience I will never forget. I have so many photos, I’m going to break this up into several posts but one of the many magical moments was stumbling across a Grey crane mating dance and being able to photograph the whole performance.

I wasn’t party to the result, they did fly away after the dance for a bit of privacy, but I did have a David Attenborough moment as the incredible performance took place right in front on my lens…


For information on the Crane ( thank you Wikipedia)

The grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum), also known as the African crowned crane, golden crested crane, golden-crowned crane, East African crane, East African crowned crane, Eastern crowned crane, South African crane, is a bird in the crane  family, Gruidae. It is found in Eastern and Southern Africa, and is the national bird of Uganda.

The grey crowned crane is closely related to the black crowned crane, and the two species have sometimes been treated as the same species. The two are separable on the basis of genetic evidence, calls, plumage and bare parts, and all authorities treat them as different species today.

There are two subspecies .The East African B. r. gibbericeps (crested crane) occurs in the east of the DRC and in Uganda, of which it is the national bird represented in its national flag, and Kenya to Eastern S. Africa.

It has a larger area of bare red facial skin above the white patch than the smaller nominate species, B. r. regulorum (South African crowned crane), which breeds from Angola south to South Africa.

Kenya, May 2013…for 48 hours

One of the benefits of living in Dubai is that it’s a travel hub with many destinations,which,if carefully planned are reachable for a weekend trip.However, being able to sleep on the flight is usually the painful part of attempting to maximise the timeNairobi falls into the net, so another city ticked off the list.

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Elephant in Amboseli…magical….

The main aim was a day safari at Amboseli National Park, 3 hours drive from Nairobi. A battered Volkswagen camper van conversion was home for the day. And what a day,  African light is incredible, it’s almost transparent, it’s so clear.  Amboseli is mainly known for its free-ranging elephant herds and our guides found a gathering fairly quickly. Standing in the Volkswagen, painfully aware it would peel open like a tin can, whilst the elephants went about their feeding and bathing surrounding us, it was a slightly unreal but magical experience.

Vast rolling grasslands, stumpy acacia trees, in the background Kilimanjaro towering above clouds and elephants, ,blowing, chasing, trumpeting,splattering mud , I was in the middle of it all. Water Buffalo , Zebra, Giraffe, to name but a few, appearing round each bend of the track and in the distance, Hippo waddling on the shore of the lake.


Rural roadside life…

A perfect day and a long drive back through the Kenyan countryside, small Masai villages and traditional roadside stalls laden with vegetables and fruit. Rickety homes, stalls’,barrow’s, cafe’s and “Hotels” line the sides of the roads heading back to Nairobi.I’m not sure I will be over-nighting at the Konza Junior Hotel!