What comes to mind on the random mention of road trip or wildlife or safari? Probably loads of fun, camping, national park, wildlife, culture, food or people? In most national parks, the picture painted is that of tonnes of wildlife leisurely patrolling the vast acres of open grasslands, shrub lands and densely forested areas of Kenya’s protected areas. Big and small, the food chain here appears complete. So, Saturday morning, first light, nice and early, we are up to catch the seemingly energetic peeking orange ball of the glorious sunshine laboring to bring life and warmth into yet another brand new day. Amongst the woods, the sun rays hit hard on the morning dew that lazily hangs around the external of the partially wilted leaves and blades of grass. An illusional rainbow splendor pops from that reflection and for a moment, my mind freezes in the peace and quiet of this angelic moment as I utter in my subconscious, ‘Nature is truly breathtakingly magical!’

Outside our guest house where we are putting up for the two nights, my three friends and I have by now taken our positions in the still van. We are sticking our heads out from the roof, the engine is still revving up trying to come to life but enthusiastic about the epic two hour game drive that we are about to embark on with our seasoned driver guide Martin. We are in the heart of the wild, Amboseli National Park, home of the African Elephant and we are here because one of our long lost friend from Malawi really wants us to show her around; the elephants, the stunning Mt. Kilimanjaro, visit the Maasai manyattas around the park and experience their authentic and rich culture. From a distance, and as if in unison, they trumpet, roar, chirp, laugh, bellow and bleat. The wild is awake and when it’s awake, it’s show time! Early mornings are one of the best times to catch a quick game drive just before breakfast. Most often than not, you will be on time before action time when the predators are stealthily preying on their breakfast, praying it doesn’t outwit them. This prey, chase, fight and kill movie like scenario would definitely thrill any adrenaline junkie.

Standing tall as if to command respect from the abundance of the living and nonliving flora and fauna below and around it, the drop dead gorgeous backdrop of the snowcapped mountain is great for the photographs. As the foggy and misty view wears off the mountain, it’s time to elevate the lenses and zoom into a spectacular view. Martin interrupts the second last shot by exclaiming; ‘Ndio wale ndovu’! (There’s a herd of elephants over there)! They stroll leisurely towards the direction where our van has made a stop. With every step they inch closer, the more gigantic they appear. Martin starts the quiet engine once again and off we hastily drive to the other road from the junction. The matriarch flaps her ears up and down as she tries to charge at us but first lets out a deafening tootle from her trunk. For a chaotic second, we believe that it is the proverbial trumpet that is going off and Jesus is coming down for His people. But why would such a beautiful creature be seemingly so worked up and angry at us on such a splendid morning? The kind of mornings that would perfectly fit the ‘Hakuna Matata’ description. Wasn’t it her golden moment to walk with a spring in her step, stop and snuggle her calves while knitting their amazingly long trunks for the world to see? Ha! But then again, the hormones could be at play and so we let it slide. But phew! Thank God! We almost question our presence here. I mean, ‘are we not welcome here’? All in all, we manage a few but great shots of the gentle giants and exit scene.

Catching a well-deserved breather after the jumbo scare, our driver guide leads us into our next marvel that literally magnets our eyes. Drum rolls..! The spectacular Lake Amboseli! Peacefully, she sits there, light air carrying dust caressing her waters that culminate into these little soft waves towards our direction as clear blue skies make a massive reflection. A few lesser flamingoes flock the shores of the lake deeply engrossed on some algae breakfast. Though not well known, the seasonal pan that is Lake Amboseli forms a huge mass of water during the rainy season that attracts flamingoes. The lake is characterized by very alkaline water but is usually extremely dry and dusty during the hot and dry season which typifies the Amboseli ecosystem most of the year. This lake is situated in Nyiri Desert that expands towards the southern border of Kenya and Tanzania covering Amboseli National Park. As mid-morning approaches and the temperatures rise, the yonder horizon hazily disappears into the dusty earth as if to converge at an angle. It’s been more than three hours of us orbiting round the park and we have had an exceptional drive. At this point, we head back to base for breakfast and some social media to tell the world what we are up to until late evening, this time hoping to spot the big cats of Amboseli at sun down.

By Macharia Jenniffer

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