Amboseli sitting, in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro is undoubtedly an elephant’s paradise, but it has so much more to offer, as one of recent family groups discovered.
Our journey started with a private charter flight to Amboseli, where we were met on arrival by our safari cars and local Maasai spotters for our drive to camp across the dusty plains from which Amboseli derives its’ name. We split our time in the Amboseli ecosystem between Kitirwa Conservancy, with the dry lakebed and Meersham salt mines, and Amboseli National Park, where the biggest springs from Mt Kilimanjaro meltwater are located. This gave us access to the best game viewing areas and the luxury of an exclusive conservancy with almost no other guests.
Elephants abound in Amboseli, and to see these African icons against the backdrop of snow-topped Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the timeless images of the East African continent. As we ventured out from camp we were honoured to view the famously photographed and long-researched elephants of the park that dust themselves on the dry lake bed and migrate towards the marsh each day to drink waters fed by the mountain’s melting snow.
Part of the Maasai steppe, Amboseli is an extremely unique eco-system. While we enjoyed everything the incredible scenery had to offer, we also got some fantastic shots of wildebeest and zebra, which have their own cross border migratory pathways between Kenya and Tanzania that are completely different from those followed by the herds of the Mara-Serengeti.
The wildlife also shares the area with the Kisongo clan of the local Maasai community, who herd their livestock to drink at the same swamps and springs as the elephants and other wild life. The sight of a lone herdsman, clad in red and blue and striding out over seemingly endless plains, is as iconic as the wildlife.
During our 3 day stay we got to know some of this community better, enjoying a fun afternoon of “Maasai Olympics” – a competition with the Kisongo clan including football and spear throwing to name a few – followed by applying ochre face-paint and beading before singing and dancing long into the night.
We were also privileged to be part of a large traditional community celebration. There were so many fascinating aspects of Maasai culture and customs revealed to us, all of which were woven into the biggest celebration of family, friends, wildlife, wild life and adventure that Kitirwa has ever seen.
We sharpened our spears and senses, practiced our jumping moves and let the party begin!