At the end of our first day in Amboseli, we came upon a bunch of vehicles that were sitting near some trees. There was nothing apparent to me about what was going on, but the word passed around that a cheetah had been seen near the trees. We sat and waited for a while. The sun was rapidly going down and that meant that any vehicles that weren’t staying in the park, had to be out by the deadline. They had to leave so the remaining vehicles were only those staying inside the park. There were still quite a few trucks but not too many.
Before too long, the cheetah came in to view. It was walking away from the trees but quite far away. Still, it was great to see it. Then a second appeared and the two of them started walking. At first, they seemed to be paralleling the road but soon it was clear that they were converging with it. We would drive a little way down and wait for them to come towards us and they were getting closer and closer. Occasionally they would stop and sit, almost in formation. Then they would start again. We would let them walk past us then drive a little further and wait again. Vehicles were leapfrogging each other as we all did the same thing.
The light was fading fast, and the ISO was really cranking up, but it is incredible what a modern mirrorless camera can do. Meanwhile, the two cheetahs were getting closer and closer to the road until they eventually decided to cross over the other side. Being so close to them was an incredible end to our first full day.
Our next cheetah encounter was a surprise. We drove out towards a tree in some open space (admittedly an area known for cheetahs). There was a truck near the tree but only as we got there did we realize that there was a mother cheetah and her cub sitting in the shade. They were quite relaxed with us there and the cub was sitting next to mum albeit with some long grass making a clear view a touch tricky.
We left them to it but, an hour or so later, as we came along a road, they were walking towards us along the road. Mum was in front with the cub trotting along behind. They went off the road into the grass to pass us but then resumed using the road once they had passed us. It was so cool to see them moving by as if we weren’t there.
Our last cheetah encounter was entirely down to Nancy. We were bouncing along a road at speed as the third of the three trucks. The side of the vehicle was covered in mud as a result of the heavy rains we had been experiencing. Somehow, through a tiny gap of clear window, Nancy spotted a cheetah and called out loudly. We ground to a halt and did a U turn. Sure enough, a cheetah was alongside the road eating what remained of a Thompson’s gazelle. The others turned around to join us as this animal finished its meal. The stomach was looking very full.
The cheetahs are just glorious looking animals. They are small and sleek compared to the larger leopards and the even larger lions. Speed is their thing, and they look so fast even as they are walking. The markings on their face are really interesting too and the cubs look almost sad with the facial lines. There were many high points on this trip, but they were definitely up there.