When I visited Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya, I had only been on one game drive and was excited at the prospect of multiple trips in the safari car over a few days. With Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background and the promise of herds of elephants and excellent bird life, I was prepared to photograph until my index finger turned numb. But I had to pull back from the camera’s viewfinder quite often just to admire the elephants in silence. Here’s what I captured when not in awe of these massive creatures.
Amboseli National Park is located on the Kenya-Tanzania border and offers incredible views of Mt. Kilimanjaro when the clouds bare the peak. Hundreds of elephants call Amboseli home and a game drive will typically yield at least a dozen of the large mammals. The first ones we spotted were wading through some seasonal wetlands and towards the safari car. As they neared firmer land, their movements were smooth – I had always imagined the sounds of elephants to be thunderous, but they are in fact remarkably graceful.
While we watched in silence – excepting shutter clicks – a calf nursed. A grown elephant lingered in the swamp with a bird friend on its back. The elephants of Amboseli seem accustomed to the vehicles (or indifferent to them), which permitted some close-up shots.
As if directed, the elephants moved towards Mt. Kilimanjaro, providing a memorable image. The sight is one that will never leave me (because…I have a photograph of it) and is the type of experience that has one wishing for a permanent safari.
When walking across the drier portions of the savanna, a herd presents another fun shot with an acacia tree looming in the backdrop. Where are these elephants headed? At the time, they were most interested in bathing themselves then grabbing a drink in the water off the road.
My favorite part of the game drives at Amboseli was a close encounter with one of the larger elephants. The tusks on the male below were impressive and he was alone near the track. At a point, he decided to walk past the stationary safari car. The elephant stopped when parallel with us and less than thirty feet away. Before he moved again, I snapped a few enduring shots of this otherworldly being.
Planning a stay in Amboseli National Park? Be sure to read my review of Ol Tukai Lodge before you book!