Heading out from Nairobi, our first stop in Kenya was Tortilis Camp, which is located in a conservancy adjoining Amboseli National Park. Amboseli is known for its large herds of elephants. Cynthia Moss has studied the elephant families in the park for generations and many elephants in the park are followed closely by researchers. Amboseli is also noted for the incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. However, depending on the cloud cover, you will not always be able to see the mountain. We were lucky to get several really good views while we were there. Tortilis Camp has some beautiful vantage points of Kilimanjaro, and due to the clear weather, we were often able to see it from the main dining area and bar.
We had a wonderful guide, Joseph, for our stay of three nights. From Tortilis Camp, you can go on game drives throughout the conservancy, or venture into the adjoining Amboseli National Park. While the park has many more vehicles at each sighting than the conservancy, it is an advantage to be able to travel back and forth for the best sightings. We saw giraffes, buffalo, cheetah, lions, and of course, lots of elephants. There is also very impressive bird watching throughout the area. Some swampy areas draw lots of animals and made for fun game viewing.
The camp itself is wonderful. The accommodations are mostly thatch roof tents with ensuite bathrooms, and they do have a family house available for large groups. There is a lovely pool near the tents, but the dining area and bar are an uphill walk away from the tents. This camp would not be a great choice for anyone with mobility issues because of the hill, but the staff were always on hand to help carry anything heavy or assist you up and down the hill. In June, it was warm enough to sit by the pool and swim, but the water was quite cold. If we approached the the pool and tents quietly, we often saw the camp's resident dik-diks. These are the cutest little antelopes you have ever seen, but they are shy and fast!
Lunch each day is a buffet, with fresh salads from the garden and a few different main courses. The vegetarian main course was often Indian food, which you will find frequently in Kenya and I love, but if this is not to your taste, definitely ask for other options when you check in. Dinner was served after everyone gathered for drinks in the bar. The camp managers hosted at cocktail hour and were fun to chat with. At meals, you sat with your own group/family rather than large tables. The bar and dining area had neat views of the camp's watering hole, in addition to the views of Kilimanjaro.
I was so pleased with Tortilis Camp's approach to conserving water and energy. When we arrived, we were given reusable water bottles to fill at the bar, rather than the endless plastic water bottles used some places. The camp ran on solar power, and it was plenty of power for charging things and having hot water in the shower.
Another interesting feature of this camp was their relationship with a school located nearby. We drove over one day for a visit. The kids were very excited to meet people from America, and the teachers were eager to show us around and highlight where their hard work was paying off. We had arranged ahead a bit of extra baggage allowance so we could bring some school supplies. The head teacher was very grateful for our small donation. There is also an opportunity to sponsor a child's school fees, which many camp visitors do after visiting the school. The children are from the local Maasai community but board, at least during the week. Providing boarding has helped the teachers keep students who may have left school due to the long walk, or even marriage, in school longer. The day we visited, everyone was practicing songs to perform at a special parent visiting time later that day.
Getting to Tortilis Camp