Amboseli Safari on my Birthday
The 3rd of March 2018 – My Birthday, and the first Safari outing of this trip. I mean sure we had a little safari on our arrival, but this was a full day outing. The game plan: find elephants. We packed all our gear, packed some lunch and headed out into Amboseli National Park.
The first destination on Juniors radar was the conservancy outside of the park. He knew that the elephants would cross the mud plaines from the woodlands on their daily journey to the swamps.
It’s about a 30min drive to get here, and we arrived just in time. Lucky for me I was allowed to get out of the vehicle to get a nice low angle. Inside the park you are not allowed to get out of the car, but with a special permit and guidance from a professional I was afforded this opportunity.
Daily Elephant Migration
Like clockwork the herds of elephants start to arrive at the swamps around 10am. They quickly pass the car and head for the water. It’s funny watching a massive creature just disappear into the ground. This is where they will hang out all day. Besides the recent rain and snowmelt from Kilimanjaro keeps these swamps flooded all year round, even when its bone dry everywhere else.
The best time to get pictures is when animals are on the move. Very often the African sun dictates the movement of the animals. Predictably they will move from one area to another everyday. With lions you need to get to them early morning, practically in the dark, then as the sun rises they move to find shade. This is my chance.
With elephants the daily migration is more about food then it is shade, but the movement from one place to another is still what I’m after. Once they submerge we move on to find what else we can find.
Pascal the Amboseli Bull
We left the park again and entered another conservancy on the other side this time. We encountered a big elephant bull named Pascal. At 42 years old Pascal is surprisingly one of the older males of Amboseli. He usually hangs out alone until mating season comes around. The swamps are not his idea of fun for the midday sun, so he rather continues to find food in this wooded area.
Again, I was allowed to get out and get low. I remember how exhilarating this was… it felt like it was just me and him at one point. Then came the whispers of a happy birthday song to remind me that this was one of the greatest gifts I could have asked for.
I look forward to sharing the full scene in my Film: Safari of my Life.
After a bit of lunch we enjoyed an afternoon drive to Ol’ Tukai Lodge. By this stage the weather was starting to turn again. Sunny midday, dark and gloomy afternoon, rain at night. This seemed to be the daily pattern. We did a quick stop at an abandoned lodge, which had been overtaken by baboons before deciding to get back to the Swamps to see the elephants leave again.
The planes were absolutely flooded. Where there was grass the day before was now a shallow lake. This unfortunately delayed us to get to the swamp area. By the time we got there the rain had started and the elephants where gone. But someone stayed behind.
A hippo mother was grazing in the shallows with her baby. In all my safari trips I have never seen something like this. Hippos are always lazing around or hidden underwater. These two where just beautiful. The last light poked out as it rained sealing the deal for a magical birthday afternoon.
On the way home Pascal decided to cross our path one last time. He stood in the road, posed for a pic and then moved on. What an incredible day – and this was only the first. 4 Weeks to go. Bring it on.
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