The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

A drive through magical Amboseli


Elephants seen at the Amboseli National park in Kajiado South. [Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

As we drive off from Nairobi to Amboseli National Park, the 30-degree Celsius heat is the loudest character in the Land Cruiser that will take us through the five-hour journey.

Along with five team members and a jolly driver, we depart Nairobi at 10am.

The temperature remains blisteringly hot as we cruise through to Kajiado South, where the park is located. For kilometres along the way, there are stretches of parched, brown grass, a testament to the lack of rainfall in the region.

 We will be spending three days at one of the lodges. As we get to our destination, we are greeted by zebras sprinkled across the grassland, all the way to the horizon in all directions.

In the heat, the gently grazing beasts appear to float on and on as far as the eyes can see.

I observe that zebras and buffaloes exist together without problems. And although the predators are obviously out there, things are not as action-packed as they often seem to be on wildlife documentaries

While it would be exciting to see a high-speed lion and antelope chase, the animals also show that they have their downtime. 

The Kenya Wildlife Service on its website describes Amboseli National Park as “the home of the African elephant”, and rightfully so.

“Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, the Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s most popular parks. The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust”, and it is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close,” KWS notes.

The report adds that the region features several different habitats, including the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands. Further, the rich culture of the people in the region is another attractive feature for tourists to experience.

If you visit Amboseli, some of the wildlife you can expect to see are leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, crocodiles, mongoose, hyraxes, dik-diks, lesser kudu, and nocturnal porcupines. There are also over 600 species of birds.

We are at a four-star lodge in the region, and it feels pretty amazing to be treated with such hospitality. Staff, who have been expecting us all day receive us with cool glasses of orange juice. Vervet monkeys, heavily present in the lodge peer at us curiously.

“Please do not feed or encourage the monkeys. They are unpredictable and can bite or scratch,” a signpost reads. 

Eager to see some more wildlife, we jump in the vehicle for a game-drive right before sunset.

Zebras and buffaloes are the order of the day in the area, and when we finally see the stars of the show, elephants, it is magical.

The feeling is beautiful, but somewhat scary, considering that these giants are double, no,  triple the size of the four-wheeled vehicles that drive past them.

If she wanted to, a furious mother elephant can trample us in a minute, but luckily, all that mostly stays in the movies!

The herds are peaceful and appear to be completely unbothered by the human attention.

At the game drive, tourists flock to the paths inside the park, binoculars at hand, soaking up every magical moment. Park drivers alert each other of notable sights via radio. At one point, our driver is informed of a lion sighting, and we rush to the spot. We see a lion and a lioness, and word is that we just missed out on the pair mating.

Rich culture

It is already day two, and our itinerary is packed. It is the day when the Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza is expected to grace the park for the Magical Kenya Tembo Naming Festival. It is also World Wildlife Day.

Early in the morning, we take off to a nearby Maasai Community, where the official ceremony will take place.

The colours are bright-red shawls, lots of beads and an assortment of hand-crafted jewellery. The manyatta homesteads are clean and neatly maintained. 

CS Malonza arrives by 1 pm, in the company of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs CS Alfred Mutua and other dignitaries.

After a quick prayer said by one of the Maasai elders, the naming ceremony begins.

An elder reads out the details of specific elephants before they are named by the officials present.

“The goal of the festival is to secure a future for elephants and their habitats in peaceful co-existence with humans while providing benefits and for posterity. The loss of ecosystem connectivity and rising human-elephant conflicts needs urgent attention by the public,” KWS reports on the ceremony.

As CS Malonza names an elephant, she presses on the need for conservation and praises the one-year and seven-month-old elephant. “I would like to thank the Maasai community and the people from this home who have welcomed us warmly,” the CS says.

“We have heard your cries about a lack of food, water, sanitation, and a need for employment for the youth, and we assure you that we are working on that, ” she added.

The CS and her team later addressed the drought ailing the country and its adverse effects on the park.

“If one wishes to see the results of the current drought which is caused by climate change today, you just need to tour Amboseli National Park, one of the hardest hit areas. However, we will continue to do all that we can by providing the wildlife with water, fodder and mineral salts to lessen the effects of the drought.”

She also called for donor organisations and private sector players to step up and help in the mitigation of the impact of drought amongst communities living around the parks as well as wildlife.

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week