Amboseli National Park – Day 2 - Sunday, January 04, 2004

Our day began at 6am with a quick dose of tasty Kenyan coffee before hitting the road for an early morning game drive. Not quite caught up on our sleep, we weren’t awake until Duncan spotted another pride of lion. The lions were feasting on a kill hidden in the bushes. There were two mamas and a bunch of babies. Scavengers such as hyenas and gray-backed jackals were hovering very closely in hopes of stealing some leftovers. The mama lions didn’t seem concerned even as the scavengers closed in. Hyenas and lions are sworn enemies because hyenas tend to go after lion cubs when they are left alone and too young to defend themselves. With mama lions around, the cubs were within 30 ft of both mama and scavengers. Hakuna Mata (no worries). The cubs were even more adorable than we’ve seen on TV and were extremely vocal and playful….like little puppies but far more dangerous.

Wildebeests and Zebras were plentiful and were very spooked by the noises of the van. The zebras look and act similar to donkeys but have that beautifully patterned hair. The baby zebras were very cute and more brown/white than black/white. When they get spooked, they take off on a 30 yard, bucking sprint out of harm’s way. The wildebeests are pretty strange looking – cross between a skinny cow and huge deer. They are very fast and hang out with the zebras.

A game drive sounds pretty exotic. The only thing that is exotic is the wildlife. It’s basically riding around on crappy, dusty roads in hopes of spotting game. Because the national parks are public, there are many other safari vehicles and regular carloads of people doing the same thing. It didn’t seem too crowded to us, but there were times where there were ½ a dozen other vans stopped on the side of the road quietly admiring the picturesque scene. We can’t even imagine riding on a huge bus with 20 other people and feel very fortunate to have found the lodge safari! The ride leaves you pretty gritty from all the dust and banged up from the under maintained roads. BUT THE WILDLIFE IS INCREDIBLE!!!! We came back to the lodge for breakfast and were handed towels to wipe the dust off with. Geez, we were so dirty and didn’t even leave the van!

Late afternoon we headed out again for a second game drive. We were greeted by high winds sweeping across the plains causing a massive dust storm. It was like driving through fog, but ended as soon as the torrential downpour began! The storm was good news because it held the dust down, created several rainbows, and cleared the clouds from the 19,000 ft Mt. Kilimanjaro. This majestic mountain is the tallest free-standing peak in the world. There was only a bit of snow at the top and it dominated the entire landscape. Duncan took us to the swampy area where we saw some hippos lurking, huge egrets and herons fishing, and huge pelicans camping out by the lake. We caught a glimpse of an elusive cat called the Serval Cat. Smaller than a lion bigger than a kitty, this shy cat was hidden in the reeds eating his lunch.

The highlight of the afternoon was observing two separate packs of elephants. The van was fairly close to these enormous creatures. Even the young ~3 month old was the size of tank! After the rain, their skin was damp and required a dousing of dirt to provide some protection from the sun. It was like watching a carwash. They were also fairly itchy, and we watched as they danced their butts around in the dirt looking for relief. It was amazing!

We ended the day eating a filling meal, listening to a talented guitar player/singer around the fire pit, and catching a rare glimpse of a MASSIVE hippo out of the water. He was bigger than our old VW van Heimo!!!!

Previous Posts: 

Monthly Archives: 

Copyright © 2002- www.theharalsons.com