The Story Behind “Journey to Kilimanjaro”

The Story Behind “Journey to Kilimanjaro”

Among the boundless beauty of natural sights around the world, few scenes are as iconic as this.

Kilimanjaro is one of those natural wonders spoken of with reverence and respect. It is the single highest free-standing peak in the world, with no mountains around it with which to compare its height. Therefore, juxtaposed with East Africa’s endlessly unfurling plains as a backdrop, its unique formation makes it one of Earth's most memorable and iconic sights. Not to mention that this dormant volcanic peak is crowned in glacial ice culminating in a caldera 1.2 miles wide.

In recent years, I’ve focused more on the animals of East Africa rather than the landscape. However, there has always been a scene in my mind’s eye that had yet to come to fruition that contains both land and animals, and on one of my recent trips to Amboseli, it came to life. This scene in my photograph “Journey to Kilimanjaro” had evaded my camera even after nearly a decade of trips to the region.


Although I have been lucky enough to spend time among countless elephants in Amboseli National Park, including the largest living tusked elephants, I had yet to see them crossing the vast dry lakebed, a signature perspective of Amboseli National Park. So, from a distance, when I saw this herd set off with determination, we raced to the scene. Beyond the surreal nature of these mammoth animals appearing small compared to the immense backdrop, the low-lying clouds at the base of Kilimanjaro enhance this image’s ethereality. Weeks can pass without ever seeing Kili, as it is affectionately known, so this scene is truly a confluence of nature’s unpredictable forces.

As I look back at this moment in time, I can’t help but think about how, while everything else below Kilimanjaro changes, this mountainous landmark stays the same. The power of the two together is one of Kenya's most unique and extraordinary experiences. This image captures what keeps me enchanted by these bountiful African plains, as these animals thrive in this unwieldy and extreme yet marvelously beautiful landscape.

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