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….