As we arrived just in time to catch a glimpse of Mt. Kilimanjaro at sunset; we were welcomed by our Scottish hosts – Graeme and his wife Candy at Tortilis Camp. In awe of the view, we left our bags behind and immediately settled in for a couple of sun-downers. Gradually through the course of the evening we were introduced to Chris, our personal butler who came bearing some wonderful news! “How about a hearty Italian 3-course meal with some vino?”, he asked. Now who on earth would think a camp tucked away from civilization would serve exemplary Italian food? But Tortilis Camp sure does know how to spoil it’s guests and create lasting first impressions.
Nestled in an acacia grove, Tortilis Camp is located on the south western edge of Amboseli National Park. It overlooks its own private conservancy – Kitirua Wildlife Conservancy (30,000 acres) and offers dramatic views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world, and the highest peak on the African continent.
There are primarily two ways to get here:
- Amboseli Airstrip –
There are daily scheduled flights departing from Nairobi Wilson Airport, Mombasa International Airport & Masai Mara. If you are in the mood for splurging you can even organize a private charter, followed by a 45 min drive to the camp.
- By Road –
Private transfer from Nairobi in a 4×4 will take you upto 4 hours. The roads are relatively good and offer some scenic views.
The multiple award winning camp joined the prestigious Elewana Collection in 2015, thus offering grand, spacious and eco-friendly tents. Ranging from 16 en-suite tents to 1 Family tent and a Private House. Each of them boasts it’s own solar grid, walkie talkie (for emergencies) and solar torch lights. Built up on a wooden deck, the makuti-covered tent overhangs a veranda, from where views are astounding. The tent leads from a bedroom with an expansive king-size or generous twin beds through a dressing area into modern bathrooms. Therefore, providing you with a translucent union with nature and yet giving you all the amenities you require. Final touches like Cinnbar Green natural care products and your own safari flask etched with your name add to details.
Tip: The tents are quite spread across the property and not all of them offer a direct view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Hence, request for a tent that’s closer to the Dining area.
The food is an integral part of Tortilis Camp’s charm. With an invitingly lush and healthy vegetable garden, the camp prides itself on serving up its fresh homegrown salads and vegetables with every meal. From top notch Italian food to local delights, the camp has it all covered. Trying specialities like Ugali with Chicken Stew and Sukuma Wiki (wild greens) was a memorable part of our Kenyan adventure! It’s essentially maize flour, cooked in boiling water and served with meat and gravy. As simple as it sounds, Maasais spend hours preparing this bowl of comfort food.
What also caught our attention were rotis (indian bread) on the menu. Probably the softest we’ve had; they were introduced by the Indian diaspora, which today proudly holds its place in the Eastern African cuisine. The day’s menu consists of breakfast and lunch buffets, and an a la carte or set menu dinner. Dishes such as lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise, fresh perch, seared beef fillet and chocolate roulade make a special appearance. All water, including that used for ice, is filtered. Above all, the camp issues guests with a reusable metal water bottle, thus stopping almost 200,000 plastic water bottles from being sent to a landfill every year.
Furthermore, every evening before dinner they serve some delicious canapes at the bar and lounge, complimented with some aperitif. Will there be enough food on safari, first timers wonder? The problem is quite the opposite. There’s far too much fabulous food, and far too little exercise.
Tip: Tortilis Camp serves a daily table d’hôte menu that can be tailored for preferences and special diets such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. Do inform the camp in advance, so that the chefs can prepare for your arrival.
Despite being in the ‘middle of nowhere’ the camp offers quite a few facilities that will put some city hotels to shame. The gift shop offers a great and unique range of artifacts and souvenirs, handcrafted by some of the local Maasais. Besides the early morning and evening game drives, one can laze around the pool with a cocktail and enjoy the sounds of the wild. Alternatively, you can unwind with a massage treatment or indulge in an afternoon of birding. The bar and lounge area offer fantastic views of Mt. Kilimanjaro making it the perfect spot to read or to work on that post image processing routine. The camp is 100% solar powered, making it the first of it’s kind and very eco-friendly (power and hot water are both available 24 hours a day).
Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the ‘Big Five’ on their safari adventure. But Kenya is full of strange, unusual, and beautiful creatures outside that illustrious group. Take the time to leave the 4×4 behind and enjoy the small things – tracks, dung beetles, micro-ecosystems and most importantly, the Small Five! The guided walks organised by the camp in association with the local Maasai’s will leave you spellbound. The Maasai’s are happy to share their knowledge of the terrain, traditional uses of wild herbs and barks, and the Maasai way of life. We got lucky and spotted a Leopard Tortoise! Yup, you read that right.
Straight after your early morning game drive you’ll be taken to a top secret scenic spot that’s completely equipped with all things breakfast. Coffee or tea is served just the way you like it. Think meat and eggs cooked straight off the grill, along with a selection of fruits, salads and cereals. It offers you the pleasure of having the first meal of your day, al fresco, in the middle of the plains, surrounded by wildlife.
Dinner Under The Stars
When you think of a luxury safari holiday, the term ‘under the stars’ may not be the first thing that springs to mind. However, what could be more luxurious than sitting under a glorious canopy of stars with a G&T in hand? Celebrating Prashanth’s 30th birthday in Kenya was not just a milestone, but a dream come true. With the entire sky deck reserved for us, the team at Tortilis Camp served some of their finest Maasai dishes and then serenaded us with some local tunes under the star spangled skies.
Note: The above mentioned experiences are not part of the all inclusive plan, and hence will be charged additionally.
WHY WE LIKE IT
- Incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro
- Bush walks outside the park
- Fresh food made with Italian flair & served with a view
- Spacious tents
- Friendliest staff and hosts
- 100% solar powered, sustainable and eco-friendly
Doubles from USD 540 OR Rs. 36,450 per night including all meals and wi-fi.
Planning to stay at Tortilis Camp, Amboseli? Let us know – we could hook you onto some great deals!
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Tortilis Camp. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.