Water from Kilimanjaro
Freshwater springs in Amboseli Game Reserve; late 1970s.

This water originates in the snow and ice on the top of nearby Mt Kilimanjaro, and flows underground to emerge as springs in Amboseli’s dry bush country.  It is a great draw to large animals, especially elephants.

Amboseli is an especially good place to see elephants because Cynthia Moss and other scientists have studied them there for decades.  Hence they are semi-accustomed to humans, and not disturbed by their (considerate) presence.

As always, whenever I visited Amboseli, it paid to be very wary of lone bull elephants, especially when they were in musth (akin to being in heat), which was often shown by seepage from glands on the sides of their heads. 

But the big herds of females and young (led by a matriarch) were far more placid – when taking clients on safari to Amboseli, I would often stop our vehicle in the path of a long line of females and young and, completely still and silent, we would watch them passing slowly around us, like slow-moving water flowing around a small island in a stream.  Once, one took some vegetation that had become attached to our front bumper.

We never had any problem doing this – although my hand was always on the ignition key – and it was really one of Life’s great experiences.  So slow, so quiet and so massive they were, but with a deep gentleness too, that often had a perceptible effect on those in the vehicle.

Elephants are one of those animals that are far more intelligent than they seem.  Examples?  A definite attitude to death, resulting in their fondling and trying to bury dead elephants; a very low frequency communication system that works over vast distances; and the ability, apparently, to smell (and remember) each individual occupant of a vehicle.  The word “awe” is used far too frequently these days, it has become devalued.  However, quite simply, awe is an emotion that elephants never fail to evoke in me.

OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. Meanderer says:

    Beautiful image, Adrian, and a wonderful description of your encounters with these beautiful creatures.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, M. I wanted to record those Amboseli moments, even though I have no photos of them – I never carried a camera on the safaris, just binoculars. My surgery cut seems to be healing well, no infection so far, although now the antibiotics have ended we’ll see what happens! A

      Liked by 1 person

  2. paula graham says:

    What a scene and what a wonderful , unforgettable experience that time over there has been for you


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Paula, I’m glad you like this landscape. Yes, my time in Kenya was rich with experience, both in terms of the natural world and of many other things too. It has left its mark on me, and that is something I am extremely grateful for. Only today I was saying to my wife that I’ve never really fitted completely back into UK life, and that’s just fine with me. I sometimes wonder what I would have been like if I’d never gone abroad at all, but instead lived only here and thought that here is all there is. Adrian


  3. Sallyann says:

    I can identify with your clients in the vehicle. I seem to spend my life in a little space while the world moves past without me, although all too often I find my space is too small and the world stampedes.
    But I can also imagine that once the fear of danger has passed, how beautiful it would be to be surrounded by such gentle giants.
    Nice picture too, by the way. 🙂


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Glad you like the post, my friend. Yes, being close to elephants in the wild was memorable, it certainly lifted the spirit. Maybe the answer to your problems is to let go of the rushing world a bit – as I was reading in Pagan Dawn, “many of us have retreated away from ‘the system’, by choice or necessity”. I’m certainly letting go, though I am of course older than you. A

      Liked by 2 people

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