Did you know that the largest elephant on the planet, was an adult male African elephant? He was 13 feet tall and weighed 24 000 pounds.
Never had this fact about them been so true to me than on the day I came face to face with a herd of them, at the Amboseli National Park.
My visit to the Amboseli National Park was an unforgettable one. I had never been in such close proximity to an elephant. Therefore the concept of elephants being incredibly massive creatures, was just that, a concept. Until I met one.
The Trip to Amboseli
It was my mother’s birthday and my father decided to take her out of town for lunch at one of the lodges within the national park. We woke up really early and reached the park at around 9 AM. As we drove around, we saw herds of Zebra, a few giraffes here and there, some guinea fowl and last but not least a few elephants, which were far off into the distance.
The Amboseli National Park
Home to some of the largest herds of African Elephants, the Amboseli National park is Kenya’s second most popular wildlife park, after the Maasai Mara. The Name ‘Amboseli’ comes from a Maasai word meaning ‘Salty dust’. A name which accurately describes the white dust that coats the national park. The Park’s territory spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border and is situated at the foot of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.
The park is not only home to a wide variety of animals, it’s also home to a Maasai tribe, native to the area.
The Baboon Lodge
As we made our way to the park’s main viewpoint, we happened upon an abandoned lodge. From afar, the lodge appeared to be desolate but as we neared the long building we realized all too soon that the lodge was indeed inhabited by creatures that were not human. The lodge was home to a large congress of baboons and they weren’t all too happy to see us so close to their home. Dozens of them came pouring out of the lodge’s windows and onto the road, hastily escorting our car away from their home.
The Observation Hill
After being escorted out of the acacia forest which surrounded the ‘baboon lodge’, we made our way to the Amboseli National Park’s iconic observation hill. The observation point overlooks the swamps and dusty plains of the park and is nestled on a slight hill. The hill was littered with informative signboards making the climb up to the observation point an educational one. Each signboard had different facts about the animals that live in the park.
We met a few guinea fowl on the way up and as we reached the summit the view that greeted us was breathtaking. But what really took my breath away, was the sight of the floating elephants.
The Floating Elephants of Amboseli
The Amboseli National Park has a Lake known as lake Amboseli. This lake is dried up most of the year due to the hot and dry nature of the environment. Therefore there are some parts of the lake that turn into a swampy terrain. It is in these parts of the lake that the floating elephants reside. The water is just high enough for 3/4 of their bodies to be submerged whilst the other 1/4 is just above the water, giving them a floating appearance.
A well-deserved meal and A herd of Elephants
After spending hours in a car driving around the park, we were obviously in need of a well-deserved meal. So it was off to the Amboseli Sopa Lodge for lunch. On our way to the lodge, the most amazing thing happened. A herd of elephants decided to cross the road right in front of our car. And that’s when I came face to face with one of these gentle giants. The herd consisted of calves with the cutest of smiles on their faces, adult females whose eyes were glued, protectively onto their children and adult males who were sizing up any animal that approached the herd, including us.
The Amboseli Sopa Lodge (ASL)
The buffet at the ASL was a glorious one with a huge variety of savory wholesome foods. Needless to say, we all ate to our hearts’ contents. Thereafter, once everyone had finished their third servings of food, we all went out to admire the view from the lodge’s massive veranda.
In my previous article, I spoke about Ambo, the baby elephant who stole my heart. Ambo, whose name derives from Amboseli, was found in the Amboseli National Park. His herd left him behind after he got stuck in some mud and couldn’t get out. If you’d like to read more about Ambo’s story, check out my previous article.
Moreover, if you like what you’re reading, tune for fresh new content every week. Next week I’ll be recounting my hike up ‘elephant hill‘.