Amboselli National Park – Tsavo East National Park

It was a very early start with a 5.50a.m wake-up call with 6.30 breakfast and 7.00 check-out. It was a real shame as we really loved the accommodation and would have liked to have spent a bit longer making the most of the pool facilities. We did manage to sneak in a 5 minutes or so sitting on our beautiful veranda with views over to Kilimanjaro. However, we had a morning game drive in Amboseli National Park to look forward to. The sun was shining as we headed out into the park and we had high hopes given the plethora of animals we had seen the day before.IMG_8377IMG_8378IMG_8379IMG_8380IMG_8381IMG_8388

We started out with all the usual culprits, elephants, elephants and more elephants as well as impala, zebras, giraffe, thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest. However, we also spotted quite a lot of ostriches, the females are brown and the males black and white with a bluish tinged neck to show they are the Somalian species rather than the masai ones. Two types of vulture and an eland added to the animal checklist, elands are incredibly shy animals and so photographing them can prove challenging at times. We ticked off number 3 of the big five with a herd of buffaloes and spotted a group of hyenas and a jackal running across the plains. There are so many beautifully coloured birds and I even managed to spot a little Kingfisher, one of my favourites. After an hour and a half of game driving we stopped at the lookout point for the whole of Amboseli National Park. At only 392sqkm it is one of the smallest parks in the country and so after the short hike to the top you really could see for almost the whole of the park. Kilimanjaro had clouded over but we wandered around reading the information boards before sitting and watching the lake underneath us and all of the daily goings on of the animals down there. It was absolute bliss. We managed to spot a sacred ibis and some more hyenas but mostly just enjoyed watching the elephants and hippos and giraffes and their interesting behaviours. Elephant babies are the cutest animals ever.17792990_1382011431820247_1999501645_n17797357_1382011385153585_3157833_oIMG_8391IMG_8393IMG_8395IMG_8398IMG_8399IMG_8403IMG_8405IMG_8411IMG_8414IMG_8416IMG_8419IMG_8422IMG_8434IMG_8437IMG_8439IMG_8441IMG_8447IMG_8448IMG_8450IMG_8454IMG_8456IMG_8462IMG_8463IMG_8467IMG_8470IMG_8475IMG_8478IMG_8484IMG_848617690660_1382010305153693_1253006597_nIMG_8493IMG_8498IMG_8501IMG_8506IMG_8508IMG_8511

We exited the park and stopped by a local Masai village for my mum to experience how the local masai people live. This is one of the oldest preserved cultures in the world and even now with the introduction of technology and education they still preserve their ancient ways of live. We were met by Daniel, a son of the chief of the village and the only person to have received education. This is changing and they are now sending more people to school but it is always a struggle particularly for girls. He explained there were 127 people living in his village but that there were 192 masai villages around Amboseli and that they share all of the 2000KSH entry fee between them. Masai society is polygamous and so each masai man can have as many wives as he can afford, however, paying a dowry for a new wife is expensive and can be anything up to 11 or 12 cows. We entered the village and were treated to a welcome song and prayer from the village. This was mostly made up of women as the men had taken the herd of cows, donkeys and goats to Tanzania as the rains still hadn’t arrived and there was nowhere for them to graze. He explained how it is the man’s job to herd their animals and make fire but the women have to build their houses from cow dung and elephant grass. It takes around 3-4 months to build one with 10 women working together to get the job done. We were taken inside where is was so dark you could barely see and they had a small fire for cooking as well as 2 beds, one for the parents and the other for the kids. It was a relief to get back out into the sunlight to see the huge bomas or fences they build around the village to keep large animals such as elephant out. They then have a second layer of fence which they keep their animals in to be safe from predators. Having visited 2 masai villages previously I knew a lot of the stuff but this one was certainly less commercial than the others. At the end we were encouraged to buy some of the things the local people had made to raise funds for the village which we of course did.

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It was a quick stop-off to pick up our luggage at Kibo Safari Camp before saying goodbye to Amboseli and making our way towards Tsavo West National Park. It was quite a long dusty drive with only a quick stop-off in a gas station to eat our packed lunches. We arrived at the gates to the park but had a bit more waiting to do while Leonard tried to negotiate with the rangers to let us pass. Apparently you are supposed to go with an armed guard but after 30 minutes of waiting in the hot sun they eventually let us go with no guard. We made our way directly to the park gates, paid admission and immediately commenced our game drive. You could immediately see a huge difference between this park and Amboseli. It was completely wild with barely a track to drive on and such extreme landscapes. We passed by some very close-up giraffes which was nice before stopping at the shetani lava flow – a huge expanse of hardened black lava from a volcanic eruption almost a century ago. It is now one of the largest lava flows in the world and has a lot of superstition surrounding it with locals viewing it as the gateway to hell. After spotting some rare kudus we headed to the Mzima Springs for a 1km walk around the springs. They had created a path with lots of animal skeletons along the edges to let you see the size of a buffalo brain etc. We then saw the beautiful springs which are funnelled all the way from here to Mombasa on the coast due to gravity. The water is crystal clear and home to some giant blue fish and lots of hippos and crocodiles. We also got a chance to meet some beautiful little vervet monkeys playing along the trail. By this point we were so tired and so headed straight to Kilaguni Serena Lodge, located in the centre of the park.17792730_1382011488486908_95206639_nIMG_8526IMG_8533IMG_8535IMG_8542IMG_8548IMG_8550IMG_8553IMG_8556IMG_8557IMG_8583IMG_8560IMG_8561IMG_8570IMG_8580IMG_8591IMG_8592

The lodge was yet again absolutely beautiful. We arrived to cool towels and welcome drinks before enjoying an amazing hot shower to get rid of the dust of the day. The resorts best feature was its floodlit watering hole right in front of the rooms and dining area and so we sat watching the zebras and antelope come and go before dinner. It was a fancier affair of a beef and melon salad, soup, then main of your choice with salad and deserts. All while watching the zebras frolicking at the waterhole and getting to know our guide Leonard. After a lovely evening we headed to bed with a note at reception to call if any cheetahs or leopards appeared at the watering hole overnight.17792428_1382011521820238_1066612532_n17792636_1382011498486907_756277681_n


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