Photos: Amboseli in the dry season

Flamingos eating algae in the reduced Lake Amboseli, with Observation Hill behind.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya

Our second visit to Amboseli National Park came in October, towards the end of the dry season. The contrast with our first visit in April was stark: the green grass had dried, shriveled and turned yellow; it was hot and dry, with regular dust storms twisting their way across the parched landscape; and the lake had shrunk noticeably, although it was still large enough to sustain a small flock of flamingos. Elephants drank swampy water amongst dead trees and hungry baboons tried to grab snacks from passing safari cars. Most disturbingly, the plain was littered with the carcasses and skeletons of dead wildebeest, zebras and other animals. Vultures and hyenas were thriving on this macabre buffet, but there were so many dead animals that the scavengers had mostly had their fill and many carcasses were left untouched.

This time, we were visiting with three other families (it was international school half term) and stayed just outside the park at Kibo Safari Camp. Our kids had a blast and we managed two new activities: breakfast at Observation Hill (formerly Poachers’ Hill), a small volcanic peak that provided a 360-degree viewpoint over the whole national park, and an adults-only sunset photo drive, complete with a close-up view of mating lions.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the visit:

Flamingos taking off. Interestingly, these birds are born white – their distinctive pink coloring comes from eating the pink algae that lives in the lake.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
An elephant wading through the swamp in search of fresh water. The trees behind had died, possibly due to the increasingly saline water.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
An early morning view of Mount Kilimanjaro, with just a sliver of snow clinging to the peak.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A bold baboon walks down a log towards our land cruiser, before trying to grab a snack from another vehicle.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A family of elephants walk across the parched ground in the direction of the swamp.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A close up of the lead elephant – the dried mud acts like sunblock and protects them from the harsh equatorial sun.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
Vultures fight over the carcass of a recently-deceased wildebeest. They eat the soft parts first, including the eyes.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A vulture sits on a nearby rock, waiting its turn to feed.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A giraffe walks in front of Mount Kilimanjaro. I’m still hoping to get the classic Amboseli shot of an elephant in front of the mountain.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A male lion yawns after mating with a female, left. Lions have a gestation period of four months. The mating season is timed so that the cubs are born in February, at the start of the long rains, when prey is plentiful.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A zebra drinks water from the edge of the swamp.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A superb starling (yes, that’s its actual name) perches on a tree at the top of Observation Hill, with the peak of Kilimanjaro rising above the clouds behind.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
Earth from the Air: elephants walk along the edge of the swamp, as seen from the peak of Observation Hill. In the past, this spot was used by poachers looking for rhinos.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A male ostrich, centre, displays his black and white feathers and dances in order to impress a female, right. Like many species of birds, the female is brown and drab in comparison with the male.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A dust twister moves across the dried out landscape beyond the lake. We sometimes saw four or five of these small, short-lived storms at a time.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A flamingo reflected in the water of Lake Amboseli.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A pod of hippos out of the water in the relatively cool morning, with Observation Hill behind.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
Elephants walk in a line along the lakeshore, in front of Observation Hill.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A giraffe at sunset. There was a family group of giraffes, eating orange flowers that grow on the trees. In this photo, I accidentally caught a flock of birds flying past.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
An elephant digging amongst thorny bushes and the roots of mangrove trees for something to eat.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
Sunset over Lake Amboseli (part one).
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
Sunset over Lake Amboseli (part two).
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya

For more Amboseli photos, see my rainy season post from April.

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