Trip Report: Amboseli & Tsavo Photo Safari – Amboseli

Andrew Beck Andrew 4 Comments


Home to one of the most iconic scenes anywhere in Africa. With Acacia trees anchoring one’s eye in the foreground and  the unmistakeable shape of Mount Kilimanjaro drawing your eye deeper into the scene, this is one of the most spectacular destinations for any wildlife photographer.

Leading into the trip, feedback from Mike’s recent Amboseli & Nakuru Safari suggested that the recent and much needed rains that Kenya had received had transformed a usually dry and sparsely vegetated Amboseli into a lush waterlogged paradise. This was immediately evident as soon as we entered the park as large volumes of water lined roadsides. Many of the roads were in fact still closed with only a portion of them being accessible at best which had its own challenges but, far more importantly, was that we still saw and photographed an incredible array of wildlife during our 5 night stay.

One of the most noticeable changes associated with the recent rains and volume of standing water was the concentration of waterbirds. Large “flocks” of African Jacana, Flamingo, Great White Pelican, White Faced Whistling Ducks, Collared Pratincole, Grey Crowned Crane and so much more.


Amboseli is synonymous with Elephant and the permanent water and lush vegetation provided by the two marshes in the region are know to attract large herds of elephants during the dry season. There was a noticeable shift in the concentration and the make up of elephant sightings this time around with herds still being present but in far smaller numbers than in previous years.

One of the great perks of photographing elephants in Amboseli is that the herds tend to follow the same routes into and out of the Marshes each day which means that we were able to head out and achieve specific goals and objectives during our time here.

For example, family herds making their way back towards the Acacia woodlands in the late afternoon.

Family herds making their way out of the Acacia woodlands with the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro in the backgorund.

Elephants against a background of the beautiful palm thickets close to the lodge.

Any disappointment in terms fo the number of breeding herds in the region was made up for by the presence of some magnificent bulls and the fact that we had clear views of Mount Kilimanajaro almost every single morning.

Of all the bulls, there was one particularly impressive bull who seemed to enjoy the lush green grasses not more than 500m from Camp. Posing right next to the road for our group on several occasions, this impressive bull was a personal highlight for me.

This was the final image I took before leaving Amboseli on day 6 of our safari and has already become a firm favourite of mine!

With all the water around the lions seemed to be far more visible and active with sightings of them almost guaranteed each day.

One of the aspects of photographing in Amboseli which I love and share with my guests is how one doesn’t need to be right on top of the subject here, especially when you are able to make use of the “emerald blue” background of Mount Kilimanjaro. I absolutely love including this element in the frame whenever I get the opportunity to do so and a lion sighting which must have been well over 500m away made for the ideal opportunity during our first afternoon out.

Images like this are less about the lions themselves and more about the environment in which they find themselves. It conveys a sense of place and there is no way that the region could be mistaken for anywhere but possibly Amboseli or the Ngorongoro Crater. A lion is a lion is a lion until you add some context to the environment in which you are photographing it and for that reason, images from sightings like this are an important part of creating a diverse portfolio form a region.

As I mentioned earlier, Amboseli is synonymous with Elephants but the lions have certainly played their part in all of the recent safaris that the team and I have hosted here. This trip was no different and we spent an entire afternoon photographing this scene which was less than 500m from Camp. Check out the tree to the right of frame in the sepia toned image of the elephant bull earlier, this is the same tree!

Why this lioness chose to spend a couple of hours moving up and down the tree we don’t know but, we were extremely grateful!

She literally spent the afternoon moving up and down, scratching her head against the fork of the tree, stretching and of course keeping an eye out for potential prey. At one point we actually thought we were going to witness the end of a wildebeest as it made its way right towards the tree, oblivious to the presence of the lioness.

The wildebeest escaped but only because it didn’t pass nearer to the tree. It didn’t pick up on the lioness at all!

The action continued as the sun started to sink lower on the horizon and we re-positioned in order to make the most of what I knew had the potential to be a very special and memorable sighting. My hunch wasn’t wrong and the afternoon came to an end on a massive high!

Its not all about the big and charismatic species though (although they certainly stole the show) and we still enjoyed good viewing of general game throughout our time in Amboseli.

And so, after 5 nights exploring and photographing the diversity of Amboseli, it was time for us to head further east for the second part of our safari where we would spend 4 nights exploring the wild and remote Tsavo West National Park. More on that in the new week!

Join us in Amboseli

We have a number of scheduled safaris to Amboseli which combine other iconic Kenyan destinations such as the Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo West and Samburu. If you're interested in exploring these options then get in touch with us and let us help you plan your very own Amboseli experience!

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Andrew Beck

About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

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Comments 4

  1. Mike Haworth

    Andrew – Amboseli really delivered and the weather looked to have particularly kind. You have just whetted my photographic appetite even more!! Wonderful iconic, evocative images-excellent!!

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  2. Mandeep

    Hi Andrew, brilliant images!! Could you please share more details on how you composed/managed such a low angle on the Elephant image in sepia (the one with a fallen tree in the background)

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      Andrew Beck

      HI Mandeep, we were simply very close and parked the vehicle on a verge on the side of the road which therefore left the elephant bull slightly higher than us. I shot this out the window of the vehicle to get as low as possible!

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