An exclusive safari experience in a 30.000-hectare private wildlife conservancy part of the Amboseli ecosystem, how does that sound? The Amboseli ecosystem is known for its magnificent views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the large elephant population.
In this blog I am excited to share with you 7 reasons why a stay at Elewana’s Tortilis Camp Amboseli has to be on your bucket list when you travel to Kenya.
Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli is one of the few camps with access to the Kitirua Conservancy that shares its boundary with Amboseli National Park in Kenya. In the dry season, you can find herds of elephants or giraffes crossing the dried lake bed in Kitirua in search of water and food, offering amazing photography opportunities.
1. Exclusive location in the Kitirua Conservancy
Elewana Tortilis camp is situated in the Western part of the Amboseli ecosystem, in the 30.0000-acre Kitirua Conservancy, bordering the Amboseli National Park in Kenya.
Yearly, many professional photographers visit this lodge to capture herds of elephants crossing the dry lake in search of water and food. This results in magnificent wildlife images with stunning scenery and background.
Tortilis camp is located on a hill of Acacia Tortilis woodland, overlooking the privately owned conservancy, offering magnificent views of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. The Acacia Tortilis, the flat-topped umbrella thorn tree, is where the name Tortilis Camp comes from.
Elewana Tortilis Camp is one of the few lodges that is allowed to do game drives within the Kitirua Conservancy, offering you an exclusive guest experience. Apart from guests staying at Elewana, you will hardly see other guests during your game drives, and you’re totally secluded from civilization.
2. Up-scale, comfortable tented accommodation
Elewana Tortilis Camp offers tented accommodation with a comfortable twin or double bed, en-suite bathroom, a small writing desk, and enough storage for your luggage and clothes. They even had a special box inside the tent to store food to prevent monkeys or other animals from entering your tent in search of food.
While the main accommodation is located on a hill with magnificent views over Amboseli and the Kilimanjaro in the distance, the tents are located much lower, without these stunning views. From the tents, it takes a 5-minute walk to the main area where you will find the reception, the restaurant, and where you gather for game drive activities.
To reach the main area from your tent, you need to walk up the hill. It’s not very steep, but takes a little bit of effort if you’re out of shape.
Our tent had a warm ambiance and was very clean and well-closed. Despite staying in the middle of the bush, we didn’t have any insects in our tent during our stay.
All tents have a spacious, private covered patio with a lounge set. I loved spending time here in between game drives.
3. Top-level service and delicious food
During your stay at Elewana Tortilis Camp, the staff will definitely make sure you’re in good hands. Upon arrival we were welcomed by the manager and got introduced to our personal butler for our 4-night stay.
Your private butler is always around (in the bar, or in the restaurant) to take care of you. All staff members are well-trained and generously friendly and attentive.
60% of the lodge’s staff are members of the local community. They were all trained from scratch to become professional guides or waiters.
A full-board stay at Tortilis camp includes accommodation, all meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), drinks (excluding champagne, private cellar wines, and premium spirits), and laundry services. This also includes 2 game drives per day.
If you like good food, you’re at the right place. During the day, you will enjoy delicious food with plenty of choices. The camp offers a buffet-style breakfast and lunch. Diner is à la carte.
Before the afternoon game drive, there is a small high-tea offering a sweet snack and cold or hot drinks. On the game drives, there are also tasty bites available.
During our stay, the staff kept surprising us with lovely experiences like a bush breakfast after a morning game drive, and a special sundowner location on a hill with a pop-up ‘Dawa bar’ including some delicious snacks. The small things were also appreciated, like a little note on our bed with a bracelet on our last night.
If you’d like to have an even more exclusive experience, it’s possible to book a private (photography) vehicle for your game drive at extra costs. We shared our game drive vehicle with another couple, so we were four guests in one vehicle excluding our knowledgeable guide.
Without a doubt, the service of the staff is a reason for many guests to return to Elewana Tortilis Camp!
4. Peaceful environment offering several activities
There is no need to be bored at Elewana Tortilis Camp. You’re surrounded by a wonderful landscape that makes you come to rest.
From the restaurant and bar area on top of the hill, you will be overlooking the waterhole, where animals often come to drink and if Mount Kilimanjaro shows its beauty, you will have one of the best views of Kili!
Feel like escaping the heat or relaxing at sun loungers in the shade of a tree? Elewana Tortilis Camp has a cozy swimming pool area inviting you to take a dip and cool off after your game drive. For ultimate relaxation, the lodge offers several spa treatments.
If you like to be more active, you can opt for a guided walk in the open plains of the Kitirua Conservancy. This can be either a short and easy walk or a long and intensive hike. If you are more into a cultural experience, you can book a cultural visit to a local Maasai village.
5. Excellent Game drives
All guides employed at Elewana Tortilis Camp are certified as Gold, Silver, or Bronze level Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association (KPSGA). The guides are well-experienced and know how to position the vehicle the right way for photography purposes.
The advantage of game drives within the Kitirua Conservancy is having the opportunity to get out of the vehicle to photograph from a low angle.
Because of the stunning scenery and backdrop for wildlife photos, it’s a photographer's dream destination; especially during the dry seasons, when the lake is completely dried-up.
Tortilis Camp is also the first camp that uses open-game drive vehicles. The vehicles are comfortable and offer a lot of space. Guests share game drives unless exclusive use of the vehicle is pre-booked. With the last option, it’s also possible to request extra options, like for example removing a door or seats for photography purposes.
Regularly, the game drives take place within the Kitirua Conservancy as well as in Amboseli National Park. For this reason, you pay both Conservancy fees and National Park fees for each night you stay at Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli.
6. Stunning wildlife sightings
We had some impressive sightings during our 4-night stay at Tortilis Camp Amboseli. We traveled in the dry season because that’s when herds of elephants cross the dried lake bed in search of water and food, so we spent a lot of time photographing elephants in the conservancy.
We also spent time with two lion prides, namely the Kitirua pride and Mikindu pride. The Kitirua pride has 3 generations of cubs. Some of them were only a few weeks old. These babies of the bush are always fun to watch as they are simply very cute.
Apart from lions and elephants, we saw a large hyena den inside Amboseli National Park including little hyena cubs.
We also spotted wildebeests, giraffes, buffalo, zebras, and hippos.
Apart from mammals, we saw many birds, including many ostriches, several birds of prey, and kingfishers.
And not to forget about the huge flamboyance of flamingos with the Kilimanjaro in the background!
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing drought in Kenya, we also saw plenty of dead animals in Amboseli; especially wildebeest, but also zebra, giraffe, and antelopes. I couldn’t even count them. It’s a harsh reality and affected my experience of this beautiful environment. We can only hope for lots of rain.
7. Eco-friendly lodge giving back to the community
Kenya is a leader when it comes to recycling, providing water dispensers, and the use of solar power. Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli was one of the first eco-lodges of its size and runs 100% solar. As a guest, you won’t really notice as the power is on all the time and your shower is hot.
Apart from ecological efforts, Tortilis Camp also gives back to the community. As I mentioned, they employ many local people, but they are also a member of “Pack for a Purpose” which is a nonprofit organization that provides travelers with up-to-date information about needed supplies for community-based projects.
You can make a big impact on local communities simply by packing school, medical and other supplies needed by community projects near your travel destination. Elewana Tortilis Camp supports the Esiteti Primary School, serving 385 children from ages 6 through 14 years old.
Since 2011, Tortilis clients have donated nearly 11,000 US dollars for sports equipment, books, stationery, and construction work for Esiteti Primary School.
Book your unforgettable stay at Elewana Tortilis Camp!
Will you be adding Tortilis Camp Amboseli to your travel bucket list? If you do, I would recommend you stay for at least 2 or 3 days. Choose the dry season if you want to photograph elephants crossing the dry lake bed and tell them you came through Traveltomtom!
This article is written by Travel and Wildlife Photographer Kim Paffen, part of the Traveltomtom team. She is also a certified Africa safari guide. In case you have any questions about our experiences with lodges of the Elewana Collection or traveling to Kenya and East Africa in general, feel free to contact Kim through her Instagram @ourplanetinmylens.