Today was going to be our first day in the spectacular Amboseli NP, and as soon as we had woken up the spectacular Mt Kilimanjaro towered above us. I honestly can't describe just how amazing this location was, photographs really cannot do it justice and I can only recommend you go there and see it for yourself.
So after waking up in this truly spectacular landscape, it was time to head out into Amboseli for the first time. The park entrance was incredibly tidy and extremely formal, especially when compared to that of the Maasai Mara.
Amboseli is famed for its Elephant population and it wasn't long before we sighted our first herd. It was immediately clear this herd was much larger than those we had seen in the Mara and the warm, morning light was perfect for some photography. There was a really cheeky youngster who was showing off for us and we were happy to take some nice portraits.
We also had the opportunity to photograph a few different species of bird as we moved from different groups of the extened herd of Elephants.
We moved on towards the plains of Amboseli heading towards Lake Amboseli. This lake remains dry for much of the year but the surrounding landscape provides grazing for the Elephants and a large number of other plains game. There are big cats here too but they not seen as easily as they are in the Mara. We weren't really here for the big cats though, the Elephants were our real focus for the day.
After lunch we decided to head towards Lake Amboseli and see if we could get some Elephants walking across the dusty expanse, with the big skies providing a dramatic backdrop. Gerry set us a mini photographic challenge, to go out with an aim to capture a small portfolio of images, each image fitting into its own category. Things didn't all go to plan with this though, we got a little distracted about half way through the drive as we travelled across the, now dry, Lake Amboseli.
We did come across a large herd of Elephants heading towards the swampy ground, and that was when I made a fundamental error, I ran out of memory card space. I missed countless shots and I only had myself to blame!!!
Anyway, we headed onwards towards the lake and came across a posing Yellow Baboon as well as a beautiful Brown-hooded Kingfisher. These certainly fulfilled the Portrait category of the challenge set by Gerry.
It was then that we headed out across the plains towards the dry and parched landscape of what was once Lake Amboseli. It is hard to describe this landscape, it seems more like a desert than anything else and there were plenty of mirages. It is easy to see why people confuse these for water!
Not much wildlife, but my word the photographic opportunities presented were entirely different ...
When we got out into the lake proper, we decided it was time to stop and take some pictures of this epic landscape. With drinks in hand and the warmth of the afternoon sun we had a fantastic time. I cannot describe how amazing this place and I only hope the following photos show you that you have to go there for yourself!
So after our finishing our drinks and our fun in the sun we suddenly realised it was getting pretty late, we had 25 minutes to get back to the gate and leave the park. Amboseli is much stricter than the Mara and it was essential we got out on time to keep in the park guards' good books. We were treated to an amazing sunset as we headed back to camp, trying to photograph it on the move was not quite so easy though!
I will be adding a video of this exciting journey back to camp at a later time. Thanks again to Gerry and Andrew for their excellent guidance and thanks to all the guides and participants for making the day so enjoyable.
This Leopard ran down the tree only moments after we had arrived on the scene. It was perfect timing, although the framing is not spot on I am rather happy with the way the image turned out.
These Flamingos were on a small lake close to Lake Naivasha - we arrived in the warm afternoon sun to find thousands of these colourful birds resting on the lake shore. It was such an amazing sight and a fantastic place to spend an afternoon photographing. The two birds, to the left, started to groom simultaneously and I could not turn down such a great pose.
Another Leopard image here. I have seen plenty of Leopard in Zambia, but to see three in the mara in 5 days really was a treat. This one had just killed the Grant's Gazelle between it legs, the snarl was aimed towards a vehicle with some rather noisy occupants (much to everyone's annoyance).
Lastly, a picture of an Olive Baboon. This was an amazing moment for me, this large male was only 8 feet away from the end of my lens. To start with a I was photographing the large family group, that was crossing the road ahead, when this large male started to approach my long lens (my new 300mm f/2.8). I pulled the lens into the vehicle expecting that the Baboon might be a little aggressive, I have had close encounters with these animals and I have a lot of respect for them.
Then he stopped, eye level with me, and started to stare. I pushed the lens out of the vehicle again and started to photograph. I was only able to fit his eyes in the frame, when aother vehicle stopped just behind us. As they stopped and for only a split second he turned to look at them, with the Sun lighting up his face I managed to get the one shot off before he turned back to look at me. The intamacy was a real privilege and something I will not forget in a hurry, the detail of his fur and his skin is exquisite. I have never successfully photographed a Baboon as they seem to get very aggressive when you point the lens towards them, so for me, this is the shot of the trip.