Day 323: It Is All About The Elephants

Tues. 2nd July 2013

Play timeBoth pachyderms and the one we are not talking about, Mount Kilimanjaro which looms above us wherever we go. The climb is now getting real for Dave and in only a matter of days Steve will be with us. The view is clearer today with a good view of the snow at the peak. Trying not to think about it, we head off to search out the elephants that Amboseli Park is famous for. The landscape is quite barren with a few clumps of grass but apparently it used to be covered in trees until the elephants felled them all. This combined with climate change means that it looks to be heading to be a desert.

Crested craneOn the way to the swamp area we spot many birds. The most impressive was the crested crane and we also saw some secretary birds, which are the biggest birds that can fly. These latter are so named because their cry sounds like a typewriter in action. We even saw an eagle but I cannot remember what it was. Our cameras are just not man enough to do them justice but Dave’s SLR will be here soon so Chris can take pics in Serengeti.

Follow my leaderThere are certainly elephants here in greater numbers than the Mara and they seem to be many families of elephants. They enjoy wallowing in the muddy water drinking as well as splash it all over themselves. It was fun to see a young one trying to emulate his mum. More serious was two male elephants fighting each other, luckily not ferociously but the younger one just trying it on to see if the elder was weak enough to beat. The answer was no, so it then picked on a younger male before giving up and moving on. We also saw many little ones which are always cute and the youngest was only about two months old.

Are you going in first?We did finally spot some hippos out of water and it is hard to believe that they can run pretty fast if the need arises – such as when chasing humans. From the plains rises a small hill known as Observation Hill, with a short footpath to the top but it is not much of a climb compared to the one we do not mention. The views over the lake are quite impressive and we can see in all directions despite it being quite an overcast day.

Ugly vulturesWe return to the lodge for a three course lunch which reinforces my decision to leave dieting until I get home! The afternoon drive again started bird spotting and we see two types of vultures which were quite different, one brown and the other much darker with a pink head like you see in cartoons reminding me off the Jungle Book.

Two fat lionsIn the distance we saw some vehicles stopped so went to investigate and saw two very fat lions lying in the open, which were either recently fed or pregnant! We drove back the way we came and saw a hyena walking in the grass. When it sat down it was almost completely hidden and we could occasionally see an ear twitch. He would have been in the grass as we passed by first time without seeing him and we wonder how many more were hiding that we did not see?

Never too old to playIn the swampy area we saw many elephants and hippos wallowing in the muddy water and reeds. Later we saw a whole family of hyenas, meaning we saw more today than the rest of the week put together. They were just on the prowl which reminds us that we have not yet seen a kill, maybe tomorrow.

welcoming barWe headed back to the lodge as the sun was going down but as it was still cloudy we were so glad we took sunset photos yesterday, as it was nowhere near as good tonight. We reflect on Amboseli, which was amazing but feel we would have enjoyed it more if we had been here before we were spoilt with the sightings in the Masai Mara. We also decided that Kibo camp (where we are currently staying), although bigger than J K Mara was more comfortable, but the downside was the buffet where the food was plentiful but still buffet standard.

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