Building on the success of our previous Essential Amboseli photo safaris we decided to add a couple of nights to this years departure and explore a part of the Tsavo West National Park. Having spent two nights there earlier this year we have decided to add another two nights to our Essential Amboseli and Tsavo Photo Safari, making this 9 Night 10 day trip (costed on a single basis) a great adventure through some pretty diverse terrain!
I’ve shared a couple of images from the field from this years safari and Jon Bryant did a guest post on the Amboseli portion of the trip, but I thought I’d share a bit more on one particular morning where we visited Mzima Springs in Tsavo West.
Heading west away from the lodge the scenes in front of us were bathed in golden light. The scenery in this part of the world reminds me of mix between Madikwe, the Kalahari and then in other places, the Drakensberg. It is that varied and diverse!
En-route to the springs we encountered good numbers of plains game which included buffalo, zebra, giraffe, eland and Tsessbe. We also saw dik-dik (which are quite common in this part of the world) and rock hyrax (dassies).
Arriving at the entrance to the springs it was quite clear that this small portion of Tsavo West area was VERY different to the surrounding areas. The vibrant greens of dense stands of trees stood in contrast against the dry, yellow grasses of the surrounding region, giving away the fact that this was a wildlife haven.
Vervet monkeys moved beneath a dense canopy of fever trees and posed eagerly alongside the pathway which leads towards the actual springs, providing us with some great photo opportunities.
A short walk down a pathway lined with chunks of lava revealed the start of the actual springs and the fresh water that supported this vibrant eco-system.
The Mzima springs are a series of four natural springswhich find their source in a natural reservoir under the Chyulu Hills to the north. The Chyulu range is composed of volcanic lava rock and ash, which is too porous to allow rivers to flow. Instead, rain water percolates through the rock, and may spend 25 years underground before emerging 50 kilometres away at Mzima. This natural filtration process gives rise to Mzima’s crystal clear streams and pools. Just two kilometres downstream from the springs, the stream is blocked by a solidified lava flow and once again disappears below the surface of the earth.
Mzima Springs is one of Tsavo’s most popular wildlife attractions owing to its resident populations of hippos and Nile crocodiles.
The spring’s isolation means that both species are literally entirely dependent on its waters with other water sources being just too far for them to reach by overland travel.
The resident hippos sustain an entire food chain. They browse the surrounding savannah by night and return to Mzima’s pools by day, where their dung fertilises the water and provides a source of food for invertebrates and a variety of fish.
Fruiting trees such as date and raffia palms, waterberrys and figs grow beside the water, using their submerged roots to absorb nutrients.Their fruits are a source of food for vervet monkeys a variety of birds, and even fruit bats – which we were lucky enough to see and photograph.
With such an incredible wealth of diversity and beautiful shady areas surrounded by so many photographic opportunities, I’m sure you can understand why we chose to enjoy our packed breakfast at the springs!
The Mzima Springs are just one of many highlights of this beautiful part of Kenya which I am looking forward to sharing with our guests in 2016!
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Essential Amboseli & Tsavo 2016
Loved by Ernest Hemingway and wildlife photographers from all across the globe, the fragile ecosystem of the Amboseli National Park hosts an incredible spectacle of wildlife and African landscapes and is where the first 5 nights of this safari will be spent. From there we move further East to the Tsavo National Park where we will explore and capture the rugged landscapes of one of the oldest and largest National Parks in Kenya.More Info