There must be only a handful of destinations in Africa where the elephant viewing is as extraordinary as it is at Amboseli National Park. As I discovered, a journey here guarantees up-close and emotional encounters with one of the true icons of wild Africa.
At just 392 square kilometres, Amboseli is a tiny park in the greater scheme of things, but it punches far above its weight when it comes to game viewing. Scenically, it is spectacular. Nestled between Lake Amboseli, and the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro, no matter which direction you look, the views are remarkable. Classic flat-topped acacia trees, and white sandy soils top it off as one of the true wonders of Kenya.
My most recent trip was planned to coincide with the pinnacle of the dry season; a time when there is so little water around that animals are forced to congregate at the few natural springs to drink. Dust devils sweep across the landscape, adding even more drama to an already arid scene.
The highlights, of course, are the elephants. Large family units march across the dry lake bed in daily pursuit of water and food. By staying at the delightful Tortilis Camp, you are able to explore a private conservancy, just on the border of the National Park. From here, you have unrestricted access to the dry lake and it is here that the photographic magic happens.
There really are no words to describe the feeling of watching a herd of 50 elephants marching silently in single file across the muddy flats – not a blade of vegetation in sight. Whether you are a photographer or not, it is a one-of-a-kind experience that will strike a chord deep inside.
After years and years of mutual respect, and of being observed, these elephants are incredibly relaxed and patient with people. The result: you can get closer to them here than you can in most other parks in Africa.
Sitting in silence you can hear their feet break the muddy crust as they walk past just a few metres from the vehicle. For a moment, time stands still. So strikingly different from the open grasslands and lush landscape of the Maasai Mara, Amboseli offers a fantastic combination if you are looking for a safari with diversity, contrasts and unrivalled beauty.
I hope you enjoy this visual feast of some of the many, many photographs I took during my three-night stay at Tortilis Camp.
Filed under: Stories from Amboseli
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