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Adventure #7: Amboseli National Park

When I last wrote, I was in the UK recovering from an ankle injury. Sadly I’m still there! If you know me well, you probably know I suffer from the following problem:

fernweh

In other words, I get itchy feet and dislike being in one place for long periods of time….the good news is that I’ve made a lot of progress in that I am now off the extreme cocktail of painkillers and my ankle is now able to bear weight. I am now walking but with the aid of crutches and I have been working from home. I’ve been on these bad boys for over 8 weeks now…trust me, they are not fun! I literally cannot wait to be back on my feet, and dancing azonto!

This is my best friend Esli who came to visit me in Dorset. See my crutches! Oh and the beautiful coastline....

This is my best friend Esli who came to visit me in Dorset and I. She’s a sweetie. See my crutches, and the beautiful coastline….

Since I’m missing Kenya and Africa so much, I thought I’d reminisce and write a post on one of my recent African adventures…..

On a bank holiday weekend in June we decided to visit Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya, close to the Tanzania border. Amboseli is famous for its huge herds of elephants and its stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Just to reiterate what I said in my last blog post, I’m definitely not ready to climb Kilimanjaro…least of all with this ankle injury!  For practical information, the park entry fee (24 hours) is 1,200 Kenya Shillings (around £8) for residents and $80 for non-residents. Certainly not cheap if you are a tourist but I would probably say that the views and experience are worth the money!

So our weekend didn’t get off to a great start…leaving at 10am didn’t happen and the vehicle we intended to travel in had a flat tyre! We ended up leaving Nairobi around 2.30pm, hoping and praying we would get to the park before nightfall since our accommodation for the night was inside the park. Oh and since we didn’t have time to purchase and fit a new tyre on the 4×4, we decided to travel in my boyfriend’s Nissan saloon car. Massive error. The road from Nairobi to Kenya is pretty smooth although make sure you have ID on you as there are a few police checkpoints along it. However, once you turn left at Namanga, that road disappears and you pretty much find yourself driving along a dirt track. Even though the park gate is only 75km away- it took us well over 2 hours. Oh and since we were worried about the park closing, we decided to try and travel at 80kmph and ended up breaking the boot. Lesson learnt: shoe laces are really strong enough to secure a boot! The road was also ridiculously dusty so make sure you have air conditioning as having the windows open isn’t really an option.

Sorry car!

Sorry car!

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park

Anyway, so we arrived at the park around 6.30/6.45pm and thankfully, despite the park had ‘officially’ closed, we were allowed in. One of the rangers also helped us ‘fix’ the boot with some rope. The view of Mount Kilimanjaro as we waited to enter the park was incredible as the sun had just set. We were so happy to make it to the park that it didn’t quite dawn on us that we had another 40km to cover before we would reach the accommodation. Ohhhhh dear. And the road in the park was just as bad, if not worse, than the road we had just used from Namanga. Oh and there were wild animals roaming about. Seeing the tusks of elephants in the dark was quite the experience but we were lucky – none of them approached the vehicle. After another hour and a half, we finally reached the accommodation – Kenya Wildlife Services’ bandas (lodges), at 4000 Kenya Shillings (£25) a night – trust me this is cheap for lodges inside a park. I’ll definitely be staying at a KWS lodge in the future at other parks. After having some dinner (thankfully that was something we had organised as there was no restaurant to eat at), it was time to sleep under the mosquito nets and be grateful we hadn’t had to sleep in the car!

This definitely has to be one of the best views I’ve even woken up to -and perhaps one of the only reasons I was able to force myself to get up at 5am. It was absolutely breathtaking and there was no cloud in sight.

Beautiful Mount Kilimanjaro

Beautiful Mount Kilimanjaro

After taking a few photos, it was time to head off on safari! Unlike the scenery at other parks I’ve visited, such as the Masaai Mara, Amboseli was refreshingly different and varied. As well as the typical savannah backdrops, not only did you have the view of Mount Kilimanjaro (until about 10am) but there are also patches of water in and around the lake bed, at least during rainy season anyway. There is also a viewpoint offering stunning views over the park – called Observation Hill. I would really recommend venturing up there to have a panoramic view of the park.

That view.

At the top of Observation Hill

THAT view.

THAT view.

Obligatory group photo

Obligatory group photo (L-R: Me, Felix, Valen and Molly)

Mount Kilimanjaro #selfie

Mount Kilimanjaro #selfie – it would be rude not to, right?

We were lucky enough to see wildebeest, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, a number of different birds (including secretary birds), antelopes, hippos, zebra…here are just a few of the photos I took:

DSCF9836

Wildebeests chilling in the sun

Baby elephant!

There are no words to describe how cute this baby elephant was.

I love Secretary birds!

Secretary birds are just hilarious.

Hungry hippo!

A real life hungry hippo, chomping away.

DSCF9868

Best of all though, we saw a hyena. This was the first time I had seen a hyena and upon seeing it, I finally realised why hyenas were one of the worst baddies in the Lion King. They are very ugly in real life! It was amazing to see one in the wild, although we were a bit scared as the windows were slightly rolled down!

DSCF9910

Is it just me or was Disney kind?!

hyenas lion king

It was also amazing to see so many elephants, particularly with the backdrop of Kilimanjaro.

We were also lucky enough to see an elephant washing itself, something I hadn’t seen since my trip to Ghana in January 2013. Sadly we didn’t see a lion up-close but I didn’t mind so much since I had seen lions and other big cats at the Masaai Mara and at Nairobi National Park. The vehicle once again proved a mistake as not only did we have to travel slowly (due to the broken boot), it’s also a low vehicle so you couldn’t really have the windows open. Next time we’re definitely hiring a jeep or a 4×4!

Our visit to Amboseli was short and sweet- arriving one evening, leaving the next afternoon but I will never forget those beautiful views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Even the video doesn’t do it justice!

How is this real?

How is this real?

Speaking of videos, I made another one yesterday. I know there are a lot of reasons not to take part in the ALS #IceBucketChallenge but since I think such campaigns are a great way of raising awareness of a cause, not to mention making donations soar….I decided to take part in the #IceBucketChallenge my way. I chose to take my challenge in the sea, to avoid wasting clean drinking water – something that around 16 million do not have access to in Kenya,. In fact, 768 million people globally lack access to clean water so please think about that when you’re taking part in the challenge.  I have donated to WaterAid as well as the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Oh and yes I know there was no ice but this video was filmed in Dorset so I can assure you that the water was really cold!

Anyhow I better sign off for now, but I want to leave you with my favourite track at the moment. I should probably save this for my post on Uganda since the artist is Ugandan but I can’t wait ’til then. ‘Sitya Loss’ by Eddy Kenzo…this song is so infectious and I guarantee it will brighten your spirits if you’re having a bad day. The video is also amazing, look at those kids dance! You might recognise the music from my #IceBucketChallenge video too.

Until next time,

Abbie x

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