Quite interesting until the visit was over and we had to file through the Maasai "market". As it was our first day nobody was into buying, but the way it was presented was over the top and we left with a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.
It was a shame that this happened because later when we were offered the chance to visit a Samburu village (tribe that apparently is more amenable than the Maasai) the reaction was mainly "once bitten, twice shy", so we never did it.
This tip could also be classed in the "tourist trap" group as the Maasai are not that welcoming for tourists (probably right) and this is the only real way to get close up and see how they live. The Maasai do not welcome people taking their photograph (another van at the Sentrim was stoned by kids when they started to take pics of them selling their wares), but as soon as you've paid your $20 for the visit, this is classed as business and you can go ahead and take all the photos you want. I personally didn't regret the $20, as it does help to maintain the traditions and culture in the area.
Your chauffeur/guide should be able to arrange this for you, our guide found a chiefs son at the entrance gate and made the deal there and then.
These magnificent beasts take your breath away, just by the sheer size of them. Larger than the Asian elephant, and not only the ears, the African also has two tactile fingers on the end of his trunk as opposed to the Asians one. Strange to see egrets co-habiting with the elephants. The reason is that as the elephant scrapes and digs at the earth to dislodge the grass, he also digs up worms and other insects, prime food for the birds.
We got to witness a hunt on our first morning out, two lionesses waiting for a herd of zebra, wildebeest and gazelle that were heading to a waterhole. At first we couldn't even spot the lions, but when the herd got closer of course they had to lift their heads a little to see where the animals were. It became obvious from watching that the lions knew exactly where the herd was going to cross, and even the point wildebeest seemed to know what was going to happen as they kept stopping and starting. It was enthralling .... We watched for nearly an hour, waiting for the final rush. The two lionesses didn't seem very experienced at the hunting game as within 150 metres they gave up the chase, completely shattered. Often they hunt in a pack of 4/5 and use scissors tactics to surround an animal. Only two of them and running together they had no chance.
N.B. I was using a 400mm lens so the distances seem a lot closer between the animals than they really are.
The Thompson gazelle, smaller than the Grants are as numerous in East Africa but not on the continent as their counterparts. Distinguishable mainly by the dark stripe along the side and very ridged almost straight horns.
Unfortunately the female in the 3rd/4th photos has broken one of its horns at the base and is virtually condemned to be caught by a predator due to the fact it was not able to run and had already been abandoned by the herd.
The Grants gazelle is not noticeably different from the Thompsons at first glance. Although the Grants is certainly larger the colouring is very similar. The major difference in the colouring is the lack of a black side stripe on the Grants and the white patch on the rear end goes above the tail. The horns have a distinctive lyre shape.
A life time (expensive) experience.or the price of $450 per person, you will get a breath taking sun rise view of the Kilimanjaro, and about 40 minutes flight over the park. Directions are subject to the available winds. The service is only available during the dry season.
After the successfull landing, we were taken to a mid bush Champagne breakfast.
Riz, the pilot is a wonderful guy, taken out of an Indiana Johns movie.
By days end we were ready to get back to the comforts of our lodge . The drought has caused such devastation and it is evident everywhere....with starving or starved animals all around us.
Just before we arrived at our hotel we see this incrediable sunset, reminding us there is hope in another day.
We stay at Ol Tukai Lodge – Amboselli
World renowned for its location for viewing huge herds of elephants, sadly the horrific drought has changed all that. Today the elephant population is barely surviving.
We have been on safari for a couple of weeks by now ,seeing in some lophantcations in tanzania huge elephant herds, but never were so happy to see an elephant as we were in this death strewn land. There in the setting sun we see one elephant .
Its difficult to write about our evening game drive in Amboselli . Everywhere we see animals starving or dead. Where huge herds once roamed we see instead animals desperately clinging to life trying to eat the almost non-existent grass. The stench from the rotting carcasses clings to us, as does memory of the look of confusion and despair on the faces of the animals still clinging to life.
Still amidst it all we find beauty. We see the animals patiently eating the bits of green here and there and a couple of elephants highlighted in the fast fading sun. This is nature in its truest form . It is our world .
We return to our lodge and try to absorb all we have learned of what it means when nature turns against us as it does here in Amboselli as they enter their third year of drought. We pray for rain.
Sunsets in Africa are especially beautiful too, when the sky turns orange with a tinge of blue over the horizon. It's no exception with Amboseli National Park. I took this picture while on Observation Hill and was amazed at how the rays of light penetrated the clouds over the plains
Get up early in the morning for a breathtaking view of the sunrise in Amboseli National Park. You'd have to be up and out by 5.30am to experience dawn. One advantage is that some shy animals are already awake and wandering the plains before the assault by tourist!
Amboseli area is like a giant dust bowl, vast & dry and that's why most animals are seen at the swamp. As the hot air quickly rises near the surface through a small pocket of low pressure, it picks up the dry dust and forms "Dust Devil" which resembles a mini twister. These Dust Devils may not be dangerous but they can be uncomfortable when they hit you.
I saw this odd looking zebra in Amboseli National Park because it had spots on its back instead of stripes. I wonder if this is another species of zebras. Most of the zebras I saw had stripes all over and no spots
You will see many herds of elephants in Amboseli National Park, most of them congregating in the swamp area where where's plenty of water and food. Sometimes, you will see a calf & its mum walking along the road and it's a good idea not to get to close to the young because the adult is protective of its own.