A Kenyan friend once said to me: “Tanzania may have Kilimanjaro but Kenya has the view”. What they meant by this, was that although Mount Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, the best place to see it from is Kenya.
So when I moved to Kenya 11 months ago, I was determined to find out where this view was and go and see it for myself. After a bit of investigating I found out that the famous view of Africa’s highest mountain can be seen at Amboseli National Park, one of Kenya’s most popular national parks, which is also famous for its huge herds of elephants.
Amboseli is situated in the south of Kenya, about four hours from Nairobi, and is made up of plains and swamps. In addition to its views of Mount Kilimanjaro the national park has over a thousand elephants, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and hundreds of bird species.
But when we went on safari with Natural Tours and Safaris a few weeks ago, this was the view of Kilimanjaro that we had. Admittedly if you look carefully at the left hand side of this picture, you can see the bottom of the mountain, but it wasn’t the view I was hoping for.
Although the view of Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park may be impressive, what I had failed to take into account was the weather – and that apparently the ‘amazing view’ is unpredictable. In fact Mount Kilimanjaro is predominantly shrouded in clouds, and only really seen at dawn and dusk and then only sometimes.
For a while I sat in the safari car with my arms folded like the obnoxious spoilt brat Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, muttering under my breath: “I came here to see Kilimanjaro and I want to see Kilimanjaro now.”
But because I am originally from England, and more than accustomed to cloudy days ruining many a day trip, and because I am 44 years old and really should know better, especially as I was with my three children, my teenage strop quickly wore off and I forgot about the view enjoyed the other delights that the National Park had to offer. We saw zebras, giraffes, flamingos, grey crowned cranes with three baby crowned cranes, Thomson’s gazelle, buffaloes, baboons, yellow-billed storks, elephants and also from a distance some hippos, a lion basking in the sun, a malachite kingfisher and the bizarre looking secretary bird, which I have always wanted to see.
Despite our positive safari experience, I still hadn’t forgotten about Kilimanjaro and there was still a glimmer of hope of seeing it as I had been told that at dusk and dawn you may be able to see it.
However at dusk this was the view…
There was still no sign of Kilimanjaro and actually rather than the herds of elephants we had been promised to see at Amboseli, we had only had only seen a couple of elephants. Apparently although we were visiting at the end of the rainy season and it had been very cloudy over the last couple of days the elephants had gone to higher ground to avoid the rain and the dangers of potential flooding.
I will be honest, I was a little disheartened, OK I was a lot disheartened. However, I was assured by our safari guide that at our hotel, Amboseli Sopa Lodge, if there was to be a view of Kilimanjaro then it was to be had from here, so hopefully tomorrow morning.
In the morning, I woke up at 6am, just before dawn to see the mountain. But to my dismay it was even cloudier than it had been the night before. I resigned myself to the fact that on this occasion I would not get the view that I wanted and there was nothing I could do about it.
Then at about 8am, while we were being served breakfast this happened…
The clouds cleared and suddenly there was Mount Kilimanjaro in all its majestic glory. And over eggs, toast and a pot of tea we all sat gob-smacked by the eponymous view of the mountain that we had all been waiting for.
Fifteen minutes later the clouds had returned and like a magic trick the mountain had vanished.
Later that morning we had another treat in store. On the game drive we saw a massive herds of the powerful and stately elephants of Amboseli.
If that wasn’t amazing enough, there was yet another magical moment for us to enjoy on our Amboseli safari, a baby elephant feeding from his mother.
As we drove out of Amboseli National Park there was a huge smile on my face, as I sat back and remembered the magical encounters we had had with Mount Kilimanjaro and elephants of Amboseli.