Porini Amboseli or Tortelis ?

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Jan 5th, 2015, 04:19 AM
  #1
vr
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Porini Amboseli or Tortelis ?

I have read wonderful accounts of both camps and am conflicted about which one to pick. My husband and I will be traveling mid February and I really need to make up my mind and book..so help please , from fodorites who have experienced both or either camp. Thanks...
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Jan 5th, 2015, 05:10 AM
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Ha! I forgot I had clicked on Africa and when I came back I thought this was a question about what dish to order for dinner!
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Jan 5th, 2015, 08:55 AM
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Jan 6th, 2015, 05:32 PM
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I have stayed at Tortelis but not at Porini Amboseli, although I know people who stayed there.

The main advantage that Tortelis has is its location in the Kitirua Conservancy, right next to the Amboseli reserve, yet far from the crowds. The camp, vehicles and guides are all top notch. Be aware, the camp is fairly large with a lot of steps, but very well managed. Also, predominantly italian food and when I was there, managers. Overall, I would strongly recommend it.

Porini is also very good, but a different experience, from what I understand. More understated, eco-friendly, and also in a remote location outside the reserve. However, in terms of location, I would prefer Tortelis.

My understanding is also Tortelis is the most expensive camp in Amboseli, so if Porini is similarly priced, I would choose Tortelis.
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Jan 6th, 2015, 05:40 PM
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See this thread on Amboseli for some stunning pictures (and information):

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10841-10...ark#entry97477
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Jan 6th, 2015, 05:44 PM
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And this one for some of my pictures from Tortelis (post #4 onwards)


http://safaritalk.net/topic/6999-let...tional+%2Bpark
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Jan 6th, 2015, 11:27 PM
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AKR1.. your STUNNING photos have driven every thought out of my head! And you say you are not a pro !
Porini costs much less than Tortelis...but I do appreciate your point about location.
Thanks for the input and double thanks for the links....
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Jan 7th, 2015, 05:06 AM
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I"ve stayed at three other Porini camps and loved them. It is a wonderful experience. Excellent guide, excellent food, clean and comfortable tents. All of my wildlife viewing experiences were with only the few other Porini jeeps nearby, until we went off the conservancies and to the reserves.

Re: location, all the Porini camps are located IN private conservancies, you would be in the Selenkay conservancy at Porini Amboseli. I just didn't want that to be a determining factor, as it seemed to weigh so heavily in favor of Tortelli above.

From their website: This award-winning safari camp is set in the Amboseli eco-system within the exclusive Selenkay Conservancy- an important wildlife dispersal area for wildlife moving out of Amboseli National Park. The private conservation area ensures the best possible game viewing in proper off-road safari vehicles, off the beaten track and away from other tourist vans and minibuses.
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Jan 7th, 2015, 05:08 AM
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I would also add that the Porini camps are small and intimate, it became a much more personal experience for me, with fewer than 10 tents at each camp. I think Porini Amboseli only has room for 18 guests. I'd read over their website www.gamewatchers.com
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Jan 7th, 2015, 07:21 AM
  #10
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amyb, we were won over by the size/intimacy of the Porini camps and their Eco friendly approach and have started corresponding with them..so far it is all going smoothly..fingers crossed ! Thanks for your input...
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Jan 7th, 2015, 08:45 AM
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Good to hear, vr! My next safari will be with them as well and I have two work friends who are leaving to travel with them tomorrow! It is a fabulous experience. I hope it continues to be smooth, I'm sure it will. Please report back and let me know how it goes!
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Jan 7th, 2015, 11:35 AM
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Steps/stairs at Tortilis? Except for those entering/exiting the dining/bar area - maybe 2 of these, and 1 step into the tent...I sure recall a bit of a hill from the tents to the public/dining space. Even with the hill, they'll provide a guide/vehicle to get you to/from wherever you are going.
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Jan 7th, 2015, 06:57 PM
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Re: Tortelis Camp, Amboseli.

A bit of a hill? It's about a hundred steep steps to get from the tents ( at least where we stayed) at the ground level near the swimming pool to the main dining/bar area and more importantly the place where you get into your vehicles. I vividly recall leaving my heavy camera equipment in the office after the first day as lugging it up all those stairs was an ordeal. They may have some tents at the upper level but I do not recall seeing them.
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Jan 7th, 2015, 07:03 PM
  #14
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amyb, we are corresponding with Robyn from game watchers ..the replies are prompt and extremely helpful...ironing out the minor schedule glitches right now....will def let you know how it works out . Thanks again...
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Jan 8th, 2015, 12:57 PM
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Porini Amboseli is completely different from Tortilis. I've stayed twice at each camp in the last few years.

Tortilis is a largish, luxury tented camp, with fantastic views across to Kili, on the exclusive (no other visitors) Kitirua conservancy (I saw lions there) and only a short drive from the west side of Amboseli National Park. Good food, relatively slick service, European managers. The tents are comfortable and well furnished and the gardens (the whole place is discreetly fenced) are lovely. Nice big swimming pool. Good, but not outstanding guides. It's all very professional, if perhaps a little lacking in genuine contacts. The staff are hospitality employees and don't have any personal connection with the camp, which is not to take away the pride they have in running a good property. It does have very good eco-credentials. I think the talk of the hill and the steps is a little overplayed. Only if you were rather unfit, or had some mobility challenges, would the hill be much of a big deal. It's perhaps 20metres above the surrounding grounds and plains. And it does offer fantastic views. Rivalled only by those from Satao Elearai Camp on the east side of the park, which is closer to Kili.

Porini Amboseli was the first of the four Porini camps, and the first in Kenya whose owner (Jake Grieves-Cook, former chair of the Kenya Tourist Board) saw an opportunity to rescue overgrazed communally owned bush and lease it from the Selenkay Maasai community. The area is now the Selenkay Conservancy, bursting with wildlife and the local Maasai benefit directly from it: the camp pays its rent come what may, and bed-night fees on top, determined by the number of guests. In addition, the camp is entirely staffed by Selenkay warriors and elders, who grew up here, so they have a direct interest in making it a success. In a real sense it's their camp. Only the manager is a Kenyan hospitality professional. Even the "shop" is an untented hut-emporium, where you browse the offerings with no hassle, each one labelled with its price and who made it. All the money goes back to the maker. The camp is small and intimate, with very spacious tents, comfortably furnished but not fancy. No pool, no gardens, just the bush in which the camp is set. Meals are fine, but much simpler than Tortilis. A day or two spent here and you'll inevitably learn a lot from your Maasai hosts, as well as seeing lots of wildife. A full-day game drive in the park is included with every three-night stay, but while you get closer to Kili (if it's visible) you may not actually see much more wildlife. Porini Amboseli was fully occupied when I last stayed, not by other guests, but by elephants. They were all around the camp.

In short - if you want more of a luxury hotel-style experience, go for Tortilis. If you've looking for memorable local contacts and more of a bush experience, choose Porini.

Richard Trillo
The Rough Guide to Kenya
Kenya Programme Manager at Expert Africa
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Jan 8th, 2015, 06:15 PM
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Excellent comparison, Richard. Should be very useful to anyone making a decision between the two camps. However, if you had to choose a location to pitch your tent (so to speak) would it be Kitirua or Selenkay?
In a different era, Hemmingway chose Kitirua to camp rather than the main reserve, if Amboseli was a reserve in those days.
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Jan 9th, 2015, 04:22 AM
  #17
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Thank you Richard, for your very comprehensive answer. We have decided that what we value is the bush experience and wild life and elephants in particular are our priority. We are going to be spending six days in Porini despite the fact that it has been argued that the area doesn't justify that kind of time. We love the bush and its sounds and smells, and can never get enough so I think Porini will be a great fit for us. We were in Serian two years ago and loved it and Porini seems somewhat similar in ideology.
Btw, very impressed by the efficiency of game watchers and their prompt replies.
Can't wait to leave the concrete jungle where I live for African skies!
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Jan 9th, 2015, 10:31 AM
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Superb description, Kota. I have bookmarked this for future review. Learned a number of this from your post. Thank you.
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Jan 9th, 2015, 10:32 AM
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Should be "learned a number of things from your post" I wish Fodors allowed editing.
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Jan 9th, 2015, 10:53 AM
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Tortilis opened in '95 when most camps were larger* than the newer camps built today, why you'll find about 16/tents; since they've built on the opposite side of the entry a family tent and family cottage with separate pool, rather than having to walk to/ use the pool from the original camp.
*as Governor's and Kichwa Tembo and a few others.

Our first visit in '96 we had the tent lowest on the hill (believe #8) with best possible views of Kili. And though AKR1 remembers steps (beats me where), the 'hill' was a killer, why on my return visit end-'12, requested tent #3, opposite the pool and still asked the driver to collect me for game drives and meals... lazy, I must admit.

Found the guides to be excellent and though there is a management team, the camp can run all by itself... it's so well organized. Best is their organic garden, whose fence has to constantly has to be made higher as the ellees are a PIA, always trying to get in for the goodies... fresh veggies are the best.

Mention of Campi ya Kanzi is way over budget compared to these two
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