Day 322: Is This The Way To Amboseli?

Mon. 1st July 2013

That is a big old mountain!I think I now know how Frodo felt as he approached Mordor. My date with my own Mount Doom (or Kilimanjaro as the rest of the world calls it) is getting steadily closer. Today we drove to Amboseli National Park and we are now in sight of Kili and it is starting to weigh heavily on me – it does look to be a big old mountain capped in snow. This is, however, jumping ahead to the end of the day…

Incongruous TV relay station in the middle of the valleyIt is a transfer day today and we have about 500km to cover back into Nairobi from the Masai Mara and then out again down (south and east) to Amboseli. As we leave, we have one final drive through the Mara – we would dearly love to see a leopard. There are plenty of the usual suspects – wildebeest, zebra, gazelle / antelopes of various flavours and I’m sure some giraffe and elephant – but we’re not interested. Whether it is a sign of leopard fixation or a desire to keep moving as we have a way to travel, I don’t know but there are no photos of that last drive through the park and the leopards remain in hiding.

Looking out over the Great Rift ValleyLookout spot on the escarpment above the Great Rift ValleyThe drive to Nairobi is the exact reverse of the drive here three days ago – bumpy unmade road for an hour or so and then tarmac as we drive across the Great Rift Valley and then up the escarpment. At least when we stop at roadside stalls to use the toilet or grab a coffee and we get inundated with folk trying to sell us some of their trinkets, we are able to say that we bought some on the way down. What we try to focus on is the view from the escarpment which is just as stunning as we remember and more amenable to photos as it is less hazy than last time.

Entrance to Kibo Safari Lodge, AmboseliFortunately, we don’t have to go all of the way in to Nairobi and the traffic is not quite as horrendous as before. Instead, we stop in the shopping centre where Peaks & Safaris (who put together this package for us) have their offices. We are treated to lunch in a cafe and Sara from P&S comes down to check that we have had a good time. A nice little piece of customer care. Then it is back into our Land Cruiser for the drive down to Amboseli.

African sunset behind an Acacia treeAgain, the roads are pretty decent and we are able to roll along, mostly with brain firmly in the off position. Amboseli may be closer to Nairobi than the Masai Mara, but it still takes us all afternoon to get there. As we get closer, we get our first views of Kilimanjaro and it is an impressive sight. It is now so much more real once you can see it and the penny drops that I start climbing in only a few days time. First though, we are going to have a couple of nights at Kibo Safari camp. As we turn off the main road and head down the track to the camp, the sun is starting to set behind a row of Acacia trees. This is an image that I will now always associate with Africa – and a great addition to our collection of sunset photos!

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