It turned out that the drive was scheduled for 4-hours - I think it took closer to 5-hours, but the scenery got nicer and nicer as we got out into the country. Amboseli itself is kind of a barren plain - but most of the grasslands of East Africa are that way. The iconic flat-topped acacia tree is all over the place...but the stand completely alone, not growing in groups or groves. As you approach the park, you notice a large cloud....sort of high on the horizon...not to far away. It's a daily fixture, actually. It's Mount Kilimanjaro - shrouded in clouds. The mountain is so big (the world's largest free-standing mountain!) - that it has it's own weather systems! It's actually in Tanzania, the result of some negotiations with neighboring Kenya when the United Republic of Tanzania was formed back in 1963-64. Funny...I always wondered whatever happened to the country of Tanganyika - the one I used to read about in my Colliers Encyclopedia. Now I know...it merged with the Island of Zanzibar and became Tanzania after the British left.
As you enter Amboseli - there's nothing really special about it...BUT - almost immediately you begin to see the animals. I'm afraid the photography from our initial days in the park were not our best efforts... We would see a herd of zebras or a few scattered elephants on the horizon...and out came the cameras! Little did we know on the first day that we would soon have our car surrounded by elephants and zebras and wildebeests and buffalo.... The photography actually gets much better as the safari rolled onward.
Our first two nights on safari were spent at the beautiful Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge - located far inside the parks borders - and with a beautiful view of....a bunch of clouds shrouding Mt. Kilimanjaro !! It seems that, despite all the wonderful photos you can see online, the giant hides behind the clouds 99% of the time!! Sort of frustrating...but on the day we left - - the clouds parted for a few minutes - and we got a tremendous view of the mountain - and I must say - it is spectacular!
We went on three very special game-drives in Amboseli - each better than the last and the animal count grew and grew. It was on the second day in the park that we saw our first lion - a big male just sunning himself in the grass, without a care in the world!
The part of our visit to the Serena Lodge that we will remember the most? The monkeys and baboons playing right outside of our room!! We sat on our rear patio virtually for hours, just watching these clowns tumble and play and jump from tree-to-tree - - they were hilarious!! I posted a few photos from the Lodge - although the Internet speeds were slow (and in Tanzania, virtually non-existent!!) Here is a link to the Facebook Album: Monkey Mayhem (on our back porch!!)
From our first day game ride I was able to capture and upload the following photos to another Facebook album called Africa Safari Part One (Amboseli)
In there are some good elephant photos, a good one of a tiny BABY elephant (they are soooo cute!!)...
I posted this little album from the Lodge...there may be some duplicates in here...but - it shows that first big male lion, a couple of goofy giraffes, two male elephant teenagers sparring - and even our first hippopotamus!! Link album here: Not a bad second day!!
That's about it for now. More later on Christmas in Amboseli, leaving for Tanzania - and many, many more animal photographs!!