Monday, 20 June 2011

African Encounters

Amboseli National Park on the Kenya-Tanzania border is perhaps the most spectacular place in Africa where one can easily observe elephants.  The backdrop to this 150 square mile park is Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.  It's the mountain that Ernest Hemingway famously referred to as "...As high and wide as all the world."  

For my first visit to this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve I was still shooting a film camera. In those pre-digital days I used to carry hundreds of rolls of film with me.  On this particular trip I had 400 rolls along. I shudder now to think back on the logistics of lugging that much film through airports, always asking for hand check-ins to avoid getting the film radiated.

Many visitors to the African parks stayed in glamorous lodges with swimming pools and servants, but my fellow photographers and I always opted to camp. In Amboseli, where this elephant photograph was taken, the campground was well maintained and fenced for protection from the animals.  But there were times in other Kenyan wildlife parks--specifically in Masai Mara Game Reserve--where we would set up our tents in a remote area of the park and be entirely out in the open with no fences. We once camped in such a spot for one month straight and it took a full week to get used to having lions wander nearby and roar in the night.  When buffalo would butt heads in the darkness we hoped they would not overrun our tents.

Mark Newman

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