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A First Glimpse

A creative director by trade and longtime friend of Angama, Austin Chow shares his initial impressions of Angama Amboseli
Above: Face to face with a legend

How can a faraway place, 8,900 miles from your front door, feel like home? Yes, the service and amenities are impeccable, but for us, the people behind the magic really set the Angama experience apart.

The author and his wife, Mary, during their wedding at Angama Mara

After two trips to the Mara — including getting married at Angama Mara in 2019 — we’ve been lucky enough to feel like Angama has become a part of our family. So, you can imagine our delight when my wife and I were invited to attend the Grand Opening of their newest gem, Angama Amboseli.

Reflecting the colours of the new landscape
...including the mud

There was a palpable feeling of excitement upon our arrival. What would the facilities be like? Would the staff be the same? Would the food be as good? How will Amboseli National Park compare to the Maasai Mara? The anticipation of a brand new adventure for everyone involved was exhilarating. While it’s impossible to compare two things that are inherently different, Amboseli brings its own flavour to the Angama brand while still maintaining everything we loved about it the first two times around.

There are all kinds of new neighbours, like these Maasai
As well as many of these

Just like in the Mara, Angama’s commitment to community, conservation, local employment, intentional design, top-notch amenities, fresh ingredients and world-class service stood out to us most in Amboseli. Whether we were looking to enjoy some peace and quiet with Kilimanjaro as a backdrop or rub shoulders with the resident wildlife (in some brand-new safari vehicles), the team always delivered with a smile which was exactly what we remembered from our time at Angama Mara.

Different species, like flamingoes, are found in Amboseli National Park

So what’s different? The iconic Mara red is replaced with an Amboseli grey in a nod to the local celebrities — the last remaining Super Tuskers. The views looking down from the Oloololo Escarpment are traded for those looking up at the highest mountain in Africa — visible from our bed, porch and showers. Millions of migrating wildebeest are exchanged for droves (more than 420 recorded species) of colourful birds, including both species of African flamingoes; and the quest to find the fiercest lion transforms into a pursuit for the biggest elephant on the planet.

These creatures are the stars of the show
Super Tuskers dwarfing everything around them

Now when I say big, I mean huge. ‘Super Tuskers’, as they are known, are bull elephants with tusks that weigh over 100lbs (45kg) each and almost all of those remaining live in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem. As a photographer and filmmaker by trade, I was hoping to cross paths with Craig, the largest living Super Tusker in the world. At 52, Craig is the undisputed king, sporting tusks estimated to weigh over 110lbs each.

After two days of searching far and wide to no avail, our luck turned — and what followed can only be described as a dream shot. Just after sunrise, we found Craig close to but outside of Amboseli National Park, where we were able to spend over an hour face-to-face with him and his askari (Swahili for 'soldiers', they are young bull elephants found in the company of larger, more experienced bulls). We watched him roam, we listened to him eat and marvelled as he calmly led the other bulls across the landscape.

Craig and his boys

When you have an up-close and personal wildlife encounter with such a presence, you feel it deep in your core and photographing this wild giant was a spiritual interaction that I will remember forever. Adding to this experience was Angama’s conservation efforts — their partnership with Big Life Foundation and the subsequent aims to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and poaching, restoring migratory pathways and protecting these animals for generations to come.

Notes from the Editor:

Austin is selling select prints of his recent journey to Amboseli with all proceeds generously going directly to the Big Life Foundation. Please visit his website to order.

Filed under: Stories from Amboseli

Tagged with:

Amboseli , Angama Guest Experience , Wedding

About: Guest Author

Members of the broader Angama family — be it guests, agents, suppliers, friends — contribute to the blog from time to time. We love to share their stories, too.

Browse all articles by Guest Author Meet the angama team

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