It was an early start at 6.00a.m this morning to start our 4 day safari through the Eastern parks of Kenya. Thankfully we had organised everything the night before so we just had to get changed and eat another lovely breakfast before checking out. We were due to be picked up at 7.30a.m by our driver but when this came and went I wasn’t worried – TIA (This is Africa), things don’t always run on time. By 8.00a.m however, I was starting to feel worried and so I asked reception to give our safari company a call to find out what was going on. Peter – the owner and the one we had booked with assured me someone was on their way and within 30 minutes he arrived in his black jeep. He explained the driver was not picking up and so he had arranged another driver and guide who he would take us to so we didn’t lose too much time. Despite the delay I was so impressed with how quickly Peter responded to the situation and immediately had a back-up guide and vehicle waiting to take us. We did a quick stop by the office to pick up water and our itinerary and we were off. We drove a way along the Mombasa road around an hour from the city where we met our new guide – Leonard at the side of a busy highway and quickly packed our stuff into his van. Finally we were off.
Although not for long. After driving for around 30 minutes we were pulled over by a police officer because Leonard’s brake light was out. What are the chances? He went off to try and negotiate his way out of the fine and we sat by the side of a busy road in the heat for another hour waiting for Peter to pay the fine before we could proceed. We were not having much luck but thankfully both Peter and Leonard were brilliant and sorted everything out in record time so that eventually we were on our way again. After all the disruptions we were in need of a rest and so we stopped by a curios shop for a toilet stop and browse before continuing on the Eden’s Café – a petrol station café where we were treated to a buffet offering of beef stew, slow cooked goat, rice and vegetables and a cold drink. We took the opportunity to get to know Leonard our guide a little better whom we would be spending the next 4 days with. It turns out he used to be an Overland driver and so we shared lots of stories about overlanding adventures. We continued on late into the afternoon with fantastic views of Kilimanjaro keeping us occupied and eventually entered Amboseli National Park just after 4 where we would be spending the next few hours on our first game drive of the trip.
We were greeted with a sea of constant wildlife almost as soon as we entered. There were loads of the standard zebras, wildebeest and thomson’s gazelle but luckily they all seemed to have babies and so we were treated to a cute fest of adorable baby animals. One of the highlights was witnessing a mother wildebeest call out to her calf from at least 2 miles and away and run back to be reunited with it all through calling with each other – very loudly. They aren’t the brightest of creatures but it was amazing to watch the determination and panic on that the animal possessed while desperately seeking out its lost calf only to sink into a state of calm immediately after finding them. There was a lot of warthogs displaying their standard eating behaviour of kneeling down which is interesting to watch and a huge hippo walking along grazing very close to our jeep. I have not had the chance to witness many hippos out of water, especially not running. They could easily outrun a human and are responsible for the largest amount of human deaths caused by wildlife in Africa. We drove by very close to a huge bull elephant who was grazing in the water, Amboseli has huge areas of wetlands, perfect for elephants who love to wallow in the water whilst eating the tall grasses that grow so well there. This particular elephant took a bit of a shining to us and followed us at very close range all the way down the road. Leonard was fantastic at maintaining a safe distance so as not to disturb the animals and every time he backed away the elephant would walk closer to us. It was quite an amazing encounter and really pays homage to Amboseli’s famous elephant reputation. The sun was starting to go down and so after an amazing few hours we headed to the exit, but not before passing 2 female lions with 2 young cubs. We didn’t have a lot of time left but managed to get some pictures and watch one of the cubs pulling it’s mothers tail to get some attention. She of course did not take too kindly to this and growled at the young cub before walking a few steps out of reach. The warning was obviously enough as the 2 cubs settled back to playing with each other.
We were staying at the Kibo Safari Camp – a 5 minute drive from the exit of the park. We arrived to warm towels and fresh juice before being escorted to our luxury tent with views over to Kilimanjaro from the veranda. The tent was spacious with 2 beds and mosquito nets, an amazing warm shower which was perfect after our long day of driving and some beautiful impala artwork. It was amazing how they had built the wood and concrete walls within the body of the tent, it really did take glamping to the next level. We headed for our buffet dinner and gorged on soup and bread, grilled bbq chicken and turkey with rice and vegetables and then a coconut tart with chocolate sauce and cream. What a day. I could definitely get used to this life. We finished the day gazing up at the Milky Way absolutely spellbound. The skies were crystal clear with thousands of sparkling stars – absolute heaven.