Amboseli National Park - Day 1 - Saturday, January 03, 2004

So, after sleeping one hour on our nine hour overnight flight from London, we met our safari guide Duncan at the airport. Immediately we headed south three hours to the Amboseli National Park right on the border with Tanzania. This park is well-known for game viewing with Mt. Kilimanjaro as a constant in the background. We made the requisite pee breaks at the local safari stops and were tempted by the locals to buy art and artifacts. Since we didn’t get much sleep the night before, we were quite vulnerable to the pushy salespeople. All we wanted was a ginger ale and ended up walking away with a couple of neat statues. Let’s just say our recently acquired bargaining skills from practicing in Turkey were nowhere to be found that morning! Suckers….

The lower half of Kenya resembles much of Texas, except the oaks are replaced by Acacia trees. We arrived at the park at ~4pm in time for a game drive on the way to the lodge. We drove across a dry, dusty lake bed where we got our first peek at Masai tribesmen who were herding goat. For the next two hours we viewed wildlife in various areas of the park in our van with pop-up roof. Nothing can describe being within 30 ft or less from an animal and then looking beyond him to the horizon and seeing nothing both the outlines and shapes of animals. There is no way that our pictures or journal can capture this properly, and no TV show has prepared us for how amazing the experience is in person. Animals, animals, and more animals were everywhere: Wildebeests, hyena, gazelles, zebras, buffalo, birds and elephants. We were also lucky enough to see a pride of lions – 2 mamas and lots of babies.

Our digital camera has the remarkable zoom of 320mm, but it would be really cool to have one of those big fat lenses that reach 600mm. We took some neat close ups but found it difficult to capture the vastness of this park. Today, Kilimanjaro was lost in the clouds. We hope to see it tomorrow.

We arrived at the lodge and immediately thought Duncan had taken us to the wrong hotel. This fancy, shmancy place could not be where we were staying???? Guess what? All our hotels are five stars not two stars as we had expected!!!! Perhaps we got a good deal b/c Kenya Tourism is down drastically since the bombings of embassy in Nairobi in ’98 and the recent terrorism in Mombassa. After 48 hours of next to no sleep, we crashed hard right after eating the FABULOUS five star dinner.

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