There is a magical place in Kenya crowned by the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest freestanding mountain in the world.  This magical land has a diversity of habitats from swamps, the desert of a dried up lake bed, savannah and woodlands and it is a place that many beautiful elephants call home.

Welcome to Amboseli National Park – the land of the giants. Amboseli means salty dust, and this aptly describe the nature of the park when there have been no rains.  However, as it is fed by water from underground springs originating from Mt Kilimanjaro, there is always water in the swamps, making the park a great habitat for many different species of plants, animals and birds.

A few weeks ago, we visited Amboseli National Park and stayed at the beautiful Tortillis camp.  The camp is named after the woodlands of the Acacia Tortillis (a flat-topped, umbrella shaped tree) within which the camp is located.  Set on hill, it provides for stunning views of Mt Kilimanjaro especially from the lounge and dining areas.

The perfect view from the lounge area of Tortilis Camp

The camp itself just borders the national park and is in the Kitirua conservancy, so guests have the best of both worlds – they can go into the park or conservancy for game drives and there is an added advantage of being able to do bush walks and meals in the conservancy.

We were welcomed into the camp with all Covid protocols in place.  Once temperatures were checked and hands sanitized, we got a little gift with essentials like a face mask, hand sanitizer and a refillable water bottle – all in a nice bag and it was ours to keep and take home.

After a briefing in the lounge area, we had a short walk to our tent which was at the bottom of the small hill from the nicely decorated lounge and dining area.

The Tortilis bar and lounge
Dining area with tables well distanced
View from the bar – Mt Kilimanjaro was unfortunately covered when we arrived.
The lodge has got some great decor

We were told that the tent had a beautiful view of Mt Kilimanjaro, though we would have to wait till the next morning to witness this.  The tent was cozy with a large double bed and nicely designed charging points for our phones and cameras.  The ensuite bathroom was just the right size with all the amenities that we required.  There were many small touches that we found in our room at that time and later in the evening too (I do not want to give away everything) that really made our stay extra special.  After getting refreshed, we had some time just to relax before heading for lunch.

View of the tent
Beautiful welcome letter

Lunch was really great with lots of salads and pizza.

But the feta samosa starters were just the best.

Feta Samosas – Yummy!!

Our afternoon plans were to relax and in the evening we opted for a bush walk in the conservancy rather than a game drive to experience the wild more intimately.  We had fantastic guides who are part of the community that owns the conservancy land and they gave us a lot of insight into the area, the wildlife and animal behaviour.  We always learn something new and interesting on these walks and the most fascinating for us were the trails that the Zebras use on their daily journey.  Different families use different trails and they are basically like roads for the zebras which they follow depending on their destination.  I would have never known that they were so specific on their paths.  A bush walk is something that we would definitely recommend to anyone going on safari – we feel it really lets you connect more with nature and also with the people in the area.

We did not want a strenuous walk, and the guides were very flexible about what we wanted to do.  After the walk, we headed back to the camp and in no time, it was dinner time.  I will just let the pictures do the talking here.

Amazing gluten free vegetable wraps
Scrumptious desserts

We had a restful sleep and awoke to some beautiful view of Mt Kilimanjaro before the clouds decided to cover it.

The view in the morning from our tent

This morning we had an early start for a game drive which was going to be both in the conservancy and the game reserve depending on sightings.  See below for some of our great sightings.

Morning yoga time
Catch of the day
The gentle giants
Playful baboon infant

Other highlights were seeing a honey badger and bat eared foxes (unfortunately they ran away too fast for any photos) in the conservancy.  The icing on the cake was a lioness walking across the desert – all these sightings I must add were on the conservancy side – an area where only the vehicles of the camp are allowed, and so it was very private.

The stare…

Our game drive ended with a sighting of lions eating in the reserve with the threat of hyenas around them, before we decide to head back to camp for a late breakfast.

Hyenas getting bored while waiting for a share of the meal

The camp is very eco-friendly and is fully powered by solar panels and water for drinking is provided at the camp from their own filtration plant on-site.  They have made enormous strides in reducing their ecological footprint, and even provide a small box of seedballs to each guest to encourage re-greening of the area.  In addition, Tortilis employs around 60% of its staff from the local community, training them from scratch to become professional guides, barman and waiters. With each employed individual in Kenya supporting an average of 8 dependants, the 40 local staff members potentially support between 300 and 400 members of the community.

The camps ethos really matches our ethos of sustainable and eco-tourism and we therefore feel very happy working with and recommending Tortilis to our guests for a safari experience with a difference.

Contact us to visit this magical place and remember when you book your safari with us, not only are you going to have an amazing trip, but you will also be supporting education and conservation in Northern Kenya as part of the proceeds from every safari go towards our projects in the region.