DAY 197: DRIVING CROSS COUNTRY IN KENYA


Farewell Lake Nakuru, hello Amboseli National Park!

We left Lake Nakuru National Park early this morning and drove all the way across Kenya, through Nairobi, to Amboseli National Park. Famous for its populations of elephants, Amboseli is the second most visited national park in Kenya (aftr Maasai Mara) and a favourite of ours. The views of Mt Kilimanjaro aren’t bad either…

 

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Mt Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest stand-alone mountain. This huge dormant volcano is 5895m high and diminates the landscape where ever you are in Amboseli. This was the view from our tented camp. Not bad hey?!

 

 

In terms of distance, Lake Nakuru is only about 380kms North-West of Amboseli, but in terms of driving time the trip took us over 7 hours (not including an hour stop-over in Nairobi for lunch). It seems that, when driving in Kenya, we invariably average around 50-60km/hour at best due to the state of the roads and the amount of other traffic on the roads. It made for a long travel day, but we were still keen to go for a (short) game drive when we got to Amboseli National Park.

 

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Driving cross-country in Kenya is slow going, though the scenery isn’t bad.

 

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The vast plains and verdant wetlands of Amboseli National Park.

 

 

Amboseli National Park is 392 square kilometres in size and lies at the heart of an 8,000 square kilometre ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The park is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants; it also offers spectacular views of Mt Kilimanjaro, which is just across the border in Tanzania. We’ve been to Amboseli before and loved its big skies, wetlands, underground springs and vast tracts of plains populated by thousands of animals. We were lucky enough to see elephants almost as soon as we set off on our game drive and the animal spotting just got better from there!

 

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The elephant spotting started as soon as we were in the park and just got better from there…

 

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Just us and the elephants!!

 

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They are awesome creatures to watch.

 

 

In particular we saw lots of birds – including numerous ostriches and water birds. With all the rain that’s been falling around Kenya in recent weeks Amoboseli’s wetlands are all very wet and therefore teeming with birdlife. Amboseli has an endless  water supply from underground springs that originate from Mt Kilimanjaro’s ice cap, however, the climatic pendulum swung towards drought in the late 1990s (which is when we were here last) reducing many of the swamps to parched dust-bowls. Which is why we were so excited to see the wetlands in full bloom (so to speak) this time! Some of our favourite bird photos from today are included below.

 

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The biggest bird brain of them all: the ostrich. (This is a male – the females are a mottled brown)

 

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Black-headed weaver bird.

 

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The beautiful crested crane is Uganda’s national emblem.

 

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The African golden weaver bird.

 

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A Goliath crane – these guys stand about 150-160cm tall and mainly eat large frogs and catfish.

 

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This excitable guy is a Cori bustard.

 

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That’s one majestic eagle!

 

 

After the game drive we headed back to “home base” (another wonderful tented camp)) and settled in by the campfire to watch the sun set over Mt Kilimanjaro and the African bush. It was a beautiful end to a long but blissful day. Looking forward to exploring more of Amboseli National Park tomorrow!

 

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Our fabulous tented accommodation.

 

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The main dining room from whence we watched…

 

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…sunset over Amboseli.

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