Amboseli Bound, Kajiado County, Kenya
January 1, 1970
by Joy Trishnar
My excitement for this trip was to see the panoramic views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa and the herds of elephants. The day did not start on a very good note for me due to a terrible stomach bug which subsided with time, thankfully. I was meeting the team(a travel group) at the city centre of Nairobi next to Hilton Hotel. In a group of twenty six people, I knew no one but that wouldn’t get my spirits down being the one-man show I usually am.
We left Nairobi via Mombasa Road at 8 am. It’s about five hours to Amboseli, without factoring in stop overs for toilet breaks and snacking along the way. Amboseli is located in Kajiado County in the Rift Valley region towards the southern part of the country, sharing a border with Tanzania. It is one of the most popular parts of Kenya- Amboseli National Park to be specific. The name originates from the Maasai community, which means salty dust. The park is governed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. The road is tarmacked all the way to the turn into the park. One does not need a four-wheel drive vehicle to access it. I would however recommend a vehicle with high ground clearance.
The first stop was at Emali in Makueni County for some snacking. We then proceeded to our destination slightly refreshed. The road got a bit dusty once we turned into the direction of the park. We were in a Rosa Bus, a comfortable travel choice so the bumpiness was not as bad as I expected. We arrived at around one thirty pm and were welcomed by the lovely staff with a glass of some fresh juice. The area is so lush, flourishing with greenery and freshness. I asked one of the staff if that’s the case throughout the year and he said they had experienced an abundance of rain in the past month hence the exuberance of the vegetation.
Check-in time. I partnered up with a very bubbly lady called Maggie for room sharing and we went on to freshen up before proceeding for lunch. The pathways were so clean one could be tempted to walk barefooted.
Kibo Safari Camp
I should mention that Kibo Amboseli is a campsite with constructed luxury tents. The tents are well ventilated and covered in a way that won’t let bugs in. They are deep in the bush. We were worried about snakes but the camp management assured us that the sleeping area has been sprayed with anti-snake liquids. We got tent number fifty four. Kibo Camp has seventy three tents, with more under construction. The tents have single, double, triple and family room options with comfy beds made from custom logs by the workers and are self-contained. That is so cool.
I loved the eco-friendly vibe they had going on, especially in the washroom. They had these artistic frames and signs in the publicly shared washrooms near the reception area.
We had our lunch a bit late in the afternoon. The food wasn’t anything exciting for me – buffet. It was an okay meal but nothing to write home about. The dining area was quite lovely though. The clay pots with flowers outside gave the area a certain aura that drew you in.
After lunch, we went to pool area. The walkway was as lovely as the paths to the tents.
The blue in the pool plus the clear skies had this very calming effect in me.
There was an evening game drive at six pm after some pool time. As some people went to the park, we went back to our room to freshen up and get ready for dinner which was to commence at seven pm. The food was also in the buffet style. I was looking forward to evening drinks in the bar area, which was the only other place apart from the reception with wi-fi. The area was comfortable with cushioned seats and intimately lit giving this quaint ambiance and an old-fashioned kind of feel, romantic if you may.
Amboseli National Park
A few drinks down and we went to sleep. It was cold. Kibo is on the leeward side of the mountain and on a plain hence the temperatures. Since we missed the evening game drive, we woke up early for the morning one to begin at six am. This is what I was looking forward to in this entire trip- Mt. Kilimanjaro standing bold and astute in all it’s African glory, one couldn’t have enough of the snow-capped view.
We meet this huge herds of elephants. I was made to understand that elephants graze and move in families with the strongest in front and behind the entire herd. They were passing right there, you could almost touch them. I was super excited. My desire was fulfilled by this sight.
We spotted a couple of buffaloes although they were grazing far away from us.
We met this guy who was giving us his back.
He eventually turned to us with his cool self.
His friend was sitting pretty on the road watching cars pass by, unbothered.
Then we came across this monstrosity by it’s lonesome. My day was made. I was elated.
Please pay attention to the signs in the park. Do not over speed.
How about some giraffes? They were probably wondering ‘ who is this crazy human shrieking like this?’. Don’t blame me, I was too happy to contain it.
We unfortunately couldn’t see the other campsites and hotels inside the park. The guides told us it was flooded and they were closed due to the heavy rains that had hit the area. They also said the icecaps melt and send running water down to the plains.
It was now time to head back to the campsite for breakfast and preparations to leave for the capital. On my way for some much needed morning fruits, I bumped into this piece of art.
This being my first experience at the Amboseli, I was massively impressed. I got to see what I went for and so much more. I made new friends. I bonded with nature and got a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city life. I also met some very interesting morans (Maasai warriors) who were highly ornamented and I was attracted to that. We had an engaging conversation because I wanted some of their beady adornment, which they unfortunately could not part with, but they got to tell me what their jewelry meant in their community. The beads, as I came to understand, do not come cheap.
What to do
One needs more than a weekend, which is all the time we had, to completely explore the area. There are various things to enjoy with game drives being the top activity, especially for those who would want to see what Kenya has to offer in terms of wild animals and nature. It should be noted that going to the park on foot is not allowed. There are Maasai dancers at night who perform for the guests showing some cultural aspects of the community. One can enjoy that by the bonfire. Kibo camp also organizes cultural tours around the villages where you get to spend the day with the locals and learn their ways. I will encourage whoever wants to visit to get familiar with KWS rules by visiting their website or giving them a call. It’s important to get acquainted with them and also check park entrance fees. I hope that when you eventually decide to head down there you’ll have as much fun as I did.