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Roadtrip Africa (8) | Emali–Oilitokitok–Amboseli NP

caribu! In other words, welcome to my adventurous roadtrip blog about Africa. I'm Eric and I travel (already three years now) with a scooter and a car through Africa.

In this blog I travel from Emali to the land of the Maasai. After an overnight stay in the Maasai stronghold of Oloitokitok, I stay for three days in and around Amboseli National Park in two lodges. The 'legal' way so to speak. I will post about the 'illegal' and adventurous (perilous) way in blog 10.

From Emali to Oloitokitok with local help

The road is fine. At Emali I take the exit to Amboseli NP. It is neatly indicated on a road sign (Kimana gate: 104 km). What is not mentioned is the height difference. My scooter starts to show problems after 50 km. The carburetor is full of sand, I learn later. The result is that the scooter guzzles much more fuel and even worse: the gradual climb (from 1.000 to 2.500 meters) is not really attractive.

Road sign near Emali: KImana Gate 104 km
Road sign near Emali: KImana Gate 104 km
Morning in Emily
Morning in Emily

In Kimana I make a stop. Kimana is the place where Maasai from the surrounding area sell their cattle once a week (see next blog). Today there is no cattle market, but certainly plenty to experience. I follow a mobile preacher who trumpets all kinds of Bible texts to the market visitors through a speaker. He really makes a mess (however pious his lyrics may be). So I get a story from a Maasai market vendor. 'She's here all day. We don't hear from him at all anymore. As long as he doesn't bother my clients, I'm fine with it.' So occasionally the preacher is chased away from a stall.

Traffic on A5 towards Oloitokitok
Traffic on A5 towards Oloitokitok

Between Kimana and Oloitokitok my luck has run out for a while. First the gas runs out. After an hour I get local help and manage to score two liters of petrol at a Maasai settlement. Then my scooter puffs and puffs and I finally manage to reach the police station just before Oloitokitok. (Oloitokitok is located at an altitude of 2.500 meters on the border with Tanzania. However, there is no official road or border post to Tanzania).

Arrival in Oloitokitok

Arrival in Oloitokitok
Arrival in Oloitokitok

I find it at the police station. The chief agent's brother repairs scooters. And brotherly love goes far in Kenya. I am taken to the workshop under police escort. An hour later the scooter is as good as new.

In the meantime I had the time to walk around Oloitokitok. Fantastic. Because the renowned Maasai souvenirs are for sale here in dozens of kiosks. And in Oloitokitok they are not souvenirs but ordinary consumer items. From the robust sandals (I'll get to that in the next blog) to the multicolored rugs.

A crash course in Oloitokitok on how to tie a Maasai rug
A crash course in Oloitokitok on how to tie a Maasai rug

Amboseli Eco Camp

After a night in Oloitokitok I move to the Amboseli Eco Camp. From Oloitokitok I drive 20 km back towards Kimana and turn left on the dirt road towards the Kimana Gate of Amboseli National Park (the distance to the gate is approximately 20 km). Halfway, a dirt track leads to the Amboseli Eco Camp.

Amboseli Eco Camp is therefore not located in the national park. In Amboseli itself there are only a few expensive and exclusive five-star lodges. Incidentally, there are plenty of less exclusive and yet very beautiful lodges just in front of the gate. I will post about that in the next blog! From these lodges you can make the same safaris. And it really saves hundreds of euros (so if you make a safari from these excellent lodges in Amboseli during the day, but spend the night outside).

I stay one night in Amboseli Eco Camp and really enjoy it. From my own hut on stilts, I enjoy the clear sky and the snowy Kilimanjaro in the early morning. And that view is absolutely no guarantee, because three quarters of the year there is a veil of clouds around Kilimanjaro.

My bungalow on stilts in Amboseli Eco Camp
My bungalow on stilts in Amboseli Eco Camp
Together with the employees of Amboseli Eco Camp
Together with the employees of Amboseli Eco Camp
Snow on Kilimanjaro from Amboseli Eco Camp
Snow on Kilimanjaro from Amboseli Eco Camp

The souvenir sellers at Kimana Gate

How do I get to the Serena Lodge on a scooter? Unlike Uganda, you are not allowed to enter any national park on a scooter in Kenya. Serena's management doesn't really know either. In the end I arrange a two night stay including pick up service from the Kimana gate.

To get to the Kimana gate I still have to drive ten kilometers. It's not a punishment at all. I pass a few Maasai settlements. And with some regularity giraffes appear. There are many acacias in this area outside the park and they love it. You hardly see giraffes in the park itself. There are hardly any trees.

Giraffes on their way to Kimana Gate in Amboseli NP
Giraffes on their way to Kimana Gate in Amboseli NP

It's the end of September 2021. Covid has really cut into it. For almost a year and a half, Amboseli has hardly had any tourists visit. Now the tourists are slowly starting to return.

I have to wait at the gate for a few hours. The guards have since made contact with Serena Lodge. The lodge is located at a watering hole 20 km from the gate. Meanwhile I hand out lollipops to the Maasai saleswomen. They patiently wait for a rare tourist.

Maasai saleswomen at Kimana Gate Amboseli NP
Maasai saleswomen at Kimana Gate Amboseli NP

After an hour a safari jeep reports from the park. The masks go on and the hunt for the dollars can begin. After fifteen minutes the ladies count the proceeds: 25 dollars. The prices of the souvenirs I found on the market yesterday have increased tenfold. For a rug of 300 KES ($ 3) they charge 30 dollars. The Americans negotiate 'firmly' and are very happy when they get the rug for $20.

When the tourists are gone, a problem remains. What are you doing here with US dollars? I buy the dollars from the lovely ladies at the going exchange rate. Everyone happy.

Maasai women sell souvenirs to an American

Maasai saleswomen bury an American tourist
Maasai saleswomen bury an American tourist

Two days 'in style' at the Serena Amboseli Safari Lodge

The American tourist couple has long since disappeared when Serena's jeep reports to the gate. I put my scooter under a shelter and get in. Driver and guide George apologizes. 'We have no guests and only a handful of employees, so I have to do all sorts of things. But you're lucky, because the jeep is ready for you for two days.'

Mine ? do I park at the Kimana Gate for 2 days
Mine ? do I park at the Kimana Gate for 2 days

So my stay at the lodge is literally an exclusive affair. Only on day two do a dozen tourists report. They travel in a group and therefore do not use my jeep.

The location of the lodge is unique. There is a large terrace overlooking the waterhole. Elephants, buffaloes and many antelope species appear there with some regularity.

And I certainly can't complain about the food…

Breakfast at Serena Amboseli Safari Lodge
Breakfast at Serena Amboseli Safari Lodge
The toilets of Serena Amboseli Safari Lodge
The toilets of Serena Amboseli Safari Lodge
Lunch at Serena Amboseli Safari Lodge
Lunch at Serena Amboseli Safari Lodge

The unique nature in Amboseli

The location (at the foot of Kilimanjaro) and vegetation of Amboseli is ideally suited for safaris. In the absence of trees, you can see most animals from a few kilometers away.

Elephant butts in Amboseli National Park
Elephant butts in Amboseli National Park
The unique Amboseli photo: a lion with the snowy Kilimanjaro in the background
The unique Amboseli photo: a lion with the snowy Kilimanjaro in the background
Hippos in Amboseli National Park
Hippos in Amboseli National Park

A warning: be careful when working remotely?

Many monkeys live on and around the lodge. They like sugar and milk very much. As shown in the following video…

Working remotely at Amboseli Safari Lodge

In the next blog I will return to Oloitokitok. From there I make a number of trips. I visit the Maasai cattle market, scooter illegally across the border to Tanzania and take an adventurous ride through Tanzania to Amboseli (including a flat tire and an elephant chase).

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Eric

What is it like to drive more than 10.000 kilometers in Madagascar on a locally bought scooter? Or on a pikipiki (scooter in Swahili) through East Africa? In more than 20 years I have visited more than 100 countries. This has resulted in a lot of priceless travel experiences, which I would like to share with you.

ERIC – OVER 100 COUNTRIES
– Likes to travel on scooters
– Share unique travel experiences.
– Favorite destinations: Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, India and Colombia.

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