Amboseli Bush Camp | Jaini’s Safari Tales

Having read about Amboseli Bush Camp on two of my favorite travel blogs: The Traveldote and The Kenyan Camper, I had been trying to reserve a stay at the camp. Last year, I couldn’t get bookings for Easter weekend. And then, this year in January, I tried to book for Easter but it was already booked, so on the first weekend of April, we finally managed to score a night’s stay at the ever-so-popular Amboseli Bush Camp. So off we went with some family friends.

That Friday, we left home after 6AM. Upon getting to Emali, we stopped for a nice Gujarati brunch around 8:50AM. With a nice spread of parothas, ondhvo and samosas, all ten of us enjoyed the first meal of the day under a tree, seeking refuge from the heat. Luckily, it wasn’t crazy hot, yet!Processed with VSCO with ke1 presetAfter this little spread, we headed to the Amboseli Bush Camp at 9:20AM. Reaching the camp at 11AM, I was excited to finally get there (after months of wanting to).

Located at the foothills of Kilimanjaro, Amboseli Bush Camp is a secluded safari camp located just a few kilometers from the Amboseli Kimana gate (30 minutes away from the Amboseli National Park). Having booked through Airbnb, the host, Phil, had sent directions, but we easily found it on Google Maps.Processed with VSCO with l1 presetIt was a little difficult accessing the camp for me as the parking lot and the path to the camp from the car park was gravel and so if I wasn’t careful, my wheelchair would sink in. The rest of the camp’s walkways were all made of mazeras stone, meaning it was all pretty smooth to drive on and I didn’t see any bugs including pesky mosquitos but I spotted several lizards (though they didn’t disturb us).

Surrounded by the wild, rugged African bush, the camp is self-catered, meaning we had to carry all food and drink with us, but filtered drinking water was provided.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah

 

Plenty of wildlife passes through the camp but the Maasai guards ensure that the animals don’t get too close.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah

With extensive views of the Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, on one end and a waterhole in the other end, we had the best views wherever we looked.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah

The camp can accommodate 12 guests, but it currently only has three tented en-suite bedrooms and six people can sleep in the lounge. There are bathroom facilities not far from the lounge for guests sleeping in the lounge.

The tents are rustic-style with comfortable beds, a desk and chair, and bedside tables. The bathroom is large and spacy with a toilet, sink and shower. Simple toiletries such as soap and toilet paper are provided and safari-style hot bucket showers are also provided on request between 6AM-9PM. Mom, Dad, Diva and I opted to squeeze in the nearest, and most accessible tent for me so that no one had to sleep in the lounge. It had a nice ramp out front and was the closest to the lounge and the kitchen.Processed with VSCO with q1 presetProcessed with VSCO with q1 presetProcessed with VSCO with q1 presetA short walk from the tent, the lounge overlooking the waterhole and Amboseli in the distance was stunningly designed. Dotted with quirky artifacts, colorful pillows and books, the lounge area is welcoming. Unfortunately, due to a few steps, the sitting area wasn’t completely flat so I couldn’t access it. Processed with VSCO with fv5 preset

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Photo | Hitesh Shah

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetWe spent plenty of time sitting on the viewing deck (also not accessible for me – though I sat right above it), enjoying the breeze and taking in the view of the watering hole. it was almost as though as we had just stepped into someone’s outdoor patio.Processed with VSCO with ka1 presetProcessed with VSCO with al2 presetOh, and there was a nice huge dining table to enjoy meals al fresco.Processed with VSCO with v1 presetAfter arriving and settling in, we grabbed an early lunch of parothas (leftover from brunch) and homemade vegetable wraps as we took in the stunning views.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah

Then, Diva and I decided to sneak in a nap because it was already a long day.

Around 3:30PM, refreshed by our nap, Diva and I joined everyone at the lounge where we just hung out and snacked on Gymkhana mix – a delicious mix of grated cheese, onion and chevdo with a squeeze of lime juice.Processed with VSCO with k3 presetA little later around 5:30PM, everyone headed out for a bush walk, while Diva and I stayed back. Processed with VSCO with l6 presetWe got lucky as we saw a herd of elephants, and several zebras and two giraffes as the sun was setting. It was all so scenic!Processed with VSCO with e1 presetProcessed with VSCO with q3 preset

 

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I shared the photo of the elephants at sunset on Instagram and Punam (ArtbyPunam), a UK-based abstract nature artist, created artworks inspired by the scene.

5×7″ on heavy linen paper, these paintings are all for sale at £20 each with free international shipping. To purchase, please email artbypunam@gmail.com

 

They are a part of Punam’s 100-day project where she’s exploring abstract landscapes. She gave herself a time limit of 15 minutes to paint each one and shares them no matter the result. The idea is to learn to become comfortable with sharing her work no matter the outcome and become looser with her painting techniques.

Once everyone returned from the bush walk (they, unfortunately, missed seeing the elephants), we started cooking.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah
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Photo | Hitesh Shah

With 24 hours solar power available throughout the camp, the open-sided kitchen is equipped with a freezer, fridge and gas cooker oven and stove, alongside pots and pans, oil, salt and pepper, dishes and silverware.Processed with VSCO with kp8 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with s3 presetProcessed with VSCO with j1 presetThere is a nice seating area near the kitchen to lounge in as the food’s prepared.
Processed with VSCO with m3 presetThere’s also a wood-fired clay-oven, ideal for pizzas and roasts, for which firewood is provided.Processed with VSCO with v8 presetFor those who want to grill up something, there’s also a cast-iron BBQ, but guests must bring their own charcoal. There is no cook but the staff were helpful with cooking and even assisting with baking the pizzas. I was told that had we brought the ingredients for fresh pizza dough, the staff would happily whip up fresh pizzas for us.

At 7PM, we started warming up the premade garlic bread my aunt had brought. Soon, Dad and his friends made us personalized pizzas. Processed with VSCO with n2 presetProcessed with VSCO with s3 presetProcessed with VSCO with n2 presetSipping on a glass of wine as we ate, sitting by the fireplace right outside the kitchen, was perfect, especially under the beautiful starry skies.

Exhausted after a full day, we headed to bed early at 10AM.

On Saturday, the next day, Diva and I woke up at 9:30AM to find Dad and his friends already cooking breakfast in the kitchen.Processed with VSCO with a1 presetWe got ready and headed to the lounge where we indulged in tea and coffee, mandazis, pan-toasted bread and eggs made to order. My Spanish omelet hit the spot and the mandazi was perfectly fluffy.

After indulging in the scrumptious breakfast, we cleared out the camp and left at 11AM for the Amboseli National Park.

Personally, I loved Amboseli Bush Camp as it is all nicely planned out and we had exclusive use of the whole property. The rooms are comfortable and the lounge is stylish and gorgeous, making you want to hang out there forever. The kitchen was quite well-equipped and I found that the staff on hand were lovely and very helpful, doing the most to help us out.Processed with VSCO with u3 presetAll things considered, Amboseli Bush Camp is a real gem, one you need to add to your bucket list. If you’re looking for an affordable weekend getaway without breaking the bank, I cannot recommend this place enough.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah

Amboseli National Park

Half hour away from the Amboseli Bush Camp, we drove down to the Amboseli National Park, where we went on a game drive. Along the way there, we spotted several wildlife corridors marked to let wildlife migrate from one place to another.

Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, the Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s most popular parks. The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust”, and it is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. The National Park embodies five main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry.

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Within this basin is a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, that floods during years of heavy rainfall.

Across the savannah and the acacia woodland, it was so magical to see so many elephants. It was scorching hot but the views of the elephants with the Mt. Kilimanjaro behind were incredible!

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We also drove by the dried-up bed of Amboseli Lake and even at the Observation Hill, which dad and his friends hiked while the ladies stayed down. The top of the Observation Hill allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants. The swamp below Observation Hill hosts many elephants, buffaloes, hippos and a variety of waterfowl like pelican and Egyptian goose.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah
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Hungry after a fun game drive, we headed to the Ol Tukai Lodge, one of the few lodges within the Amboseli National Park for a late lunch. The lodge itself is nice with wooden African-inspired interiors. It is fenced as right outside the building by the pool area are panoramic views of the Kilimanjaro and marshlands where we spotted another herd of elephants.

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Photo | Hitesh Shah

After a delicious lunch of sandwiches and French fries, we headed on out to our next stop: Kimana Sanctuary!


Photos and video by Hitesh & Diva Shah

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