The guest area at Tortilis Camp Amboseli has Kilimanjaro views.

Kenya Classic Affordable Safari | Northern Wilds, Savannah & Elephant | 8 Nights Samburu Region, Masai Mara & Amboseli National Park

The three camps on this African safari itinerary strike a balance between elegance and simplicity, with comfortable accommodations, great food and superb wildlife experiences. Elephant Bedroom Camp, Mara Ngenche Safari Camp and Tortilis Camp Amboseli have very different locations in Kenya but they share a sense of adventure and a great spirit of hospitality.

  • From the drier, stony spaces of the arid Samburu region of northern Kenya to the rolling grasslands of the Masai Mara and the mountain-shadowed greenness of Amboseli, this affordable African safari showcases Kenya’s diverse landscapes.
  • Opportunities to tick off the Samburu Special Five on game drives in Samburu, see the elephant of Amboseli against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro, take in prolific plains wildlife on game drives in the Masai Mara and enjoy cultural experiences visiting the Maasai.
  • The intimate Elephant Bedroom Camp has 12 spacious guest tents, each with private verandah and plunge pool overlooking Samburu’s Ngiro River.
  • Mara Ngenche Safari Camp offers 10 simplistically elegant double or twin tents with plunge pools at the confluence of the Mara and Talek rivers in the Masai Mara.
  • Tortilis Camp Amboseli is an exclusive tented camp with 16 spacious tented rooms, a private house and a family tent situated in the elephant-rich Amboseli. The infinity pool is set next to a bar.

Three nights at Elephant Bedroom Camp

The semi-arid landscapes of Samburu were offset by the fact that a river ran through it, and by staying at Elephant Bedroom Camp we were right on its banks. Shaded by doum palms and other riverine trees, we noticed on our first day that the camp proved to be aptly named as elephant clearly relished the palm fruits and were frequent visitors. The design of the camp – open to the sights and the sounds of the bush on every side yet safely raised on wooden decks and shaded by taut canvas roofs – meant that we had unimpeded views as the small herds ambled up from the river.Elephant may have been the most noticeable creatures, but on our game drive on our second day our guide’s sharp eyes resulted in fascinating encounters with some of the Samburu Special Five – unique birds and mammals found only in these drier northern parts of Kenya. Our favourite was the gerenuk, swaying on their hind feet like goats as they stretched their outsized necks into the thorn bushes. The Ngiro River was the focal point of our day, as it was for many of the animals we saw. The thick vegetation along the banks meant that we never quite knew who we’d meet around the next corner, adding to our sense of enchantment. On our last full day here, we enjoyed a bush breakfast before returning to camp and whiling away the middle part of the day in director’s chairs overlooking the river. It was a case of sunlight, cameras, action as we snapped some wonderful shots of thirsty creatures coming to drink. Dining by flickering candlelight that evening, we were treated to a display of traditional dancing by the Samburu staff, all decked out in all their finery. The transformation from friendly waiter to fearless warrior was complete – like the elephant in the river, they were at home with a foot on either bank.

The semi-arid landscapes of Samburu were offset by the fact that a river ran through it, and by staying at Elephant Bedroom Camp we were right on its banks. Shaded by doum palms and other riverine trees, we noticed on our first day that the camp proved to be aptly named as elephant clearly relished the palm fruits and were frequent visitors. The design of the camp – open to the sights and the sounds of the bush on every side yet safely raised on wooden decks and shaded by taut canvas roofs – meant that we had unimpeded views as the small herds ambled up from the river.

Elephant may have been the most noticeable creatures, but on our game drive on our second day our guide’s sharp eyes resulted in fascinating encounters with some of the Samburu Special Five – unique birds and mammals found only in these drier northern parts of Kenya. Our favourite was the gerenuk, swaying on their hind feet like goats as they stretched their outsized necks into the thorn bushes. The Ngiro River was the focal point of our day, as it was for many of the animals we saw. The thick vegetation along the banks meant that we never quite knew who we’d meet around the next corner, adding to our sense of enchantment.

On our last full day here, we enjoyed a bush breakfast before returning to camp and whiling away the middle part of the day in director’s chairs overlooking the river. It was a case of sunlight, cameras, action as we snapped some wonderful shots of thirsty creatures coming to drink. Dining by flickering candlelight that evening, we were treated to a display of traditional dancing by the Samburu staff, all decked out in all their finery. The transformation from friendly waiter to fearless warrior was complete – like the elephant in the river, they were at home with a foot on either bank.

Three nights at Mara Ngenche Safari Camp

Our light-aircraft flight southwest gave us just enough time to adjust to a much greener, more undulating landscape. The scattered knots of antelope barely gave our Cessna a second glance as we rolled to a halt on the grass airstrip.At Mara Ngenche Safari Camp, we found ourselves in the heart of the famed Masai Mara – a place as well known for its proud people as its prides of lion. Once more, we were overlooking a river, or rather, a large pool at the confluence of the Mara and Talek rivers. The satisfied grunting of hippo gave voice to our own contentment as we walked in the cool of the riverside trees around our wonderfully open safari tent. Just like the main area, it was incredibly comfortable, with many different places to sit and look out over the vast Mara landscapes.The Great Wildebeest Migration had moved on, but as we discovered on our second day the plains were in no way empty. With the herds having departed, resident animals were coming into their own again. The undoubted highlight of our day was spending time with a female cheetah and her four cubs during a game drive. Our guide explained that it was very unlikely that all four would survive, but for now they were full of life, copying their mother as she used our vehicle first as shade and then as a vantage point by clambering up the windscreen. We had never thought we’d see the underside of a cheetah!We’d quizzed our guide about the Maasai herders we’d spotted the day before, leading their cattle with apparent nonchalance. He invited us to visit a local village on our third day – a chance we leapt at, although not as high as Maasai warriors are known to. We were welcomed like old friends, each urged to drink from the enamel mugs pressed into our hands. We were rather relieved to find that they contained very sweet tea, rather than the Maasai’s famed blood-and-milk concoction. This relief must have shown on our faces, as the assembled kids burst out laughing.

Our light-aircraft flight southwest gave us just enough time to adjust to a much greener, more undulating landscape. The scattered knots of antelope barely gave our Cessna a second glance as we rolled to a halt on the grass airstrip.

At Mara Ngenche Safari Camp, we found ourselves in the heart of the famed Masai Mara – a place as well known for its proud people as its prides of lion. Once more, we were overlooking a river, or rather, a large pool at the confluence of the Mara and Talek rivers. The satisfied grunting of hippo gave voice to our own contentment as we walked in the cool of the riverside trees around our wonderfully open safari tent. Just like the main area, it was incredibly comfortable, with many different places to sit and look out over the vast Mara landscapes.

The Great Wildebeest Migration had moved on, but as we discovered on our second day the plains were in no way empty. With the herds having departed, resident animals were coming into their own again. The undoubted highlight of our day was spending time with a female cheetah and her four cubs during a game drive. Our guide explained that it was very unlikely that all four would survive, but for now they were full of life, copying their mother as she used our vehicle first as shade and then as a vantage point by clambering up the windscreen. We had never thought we’d see the underside of a cheetah!

We’d quizzed our guide about the Maasai herders we’d spotted the day before, leading their cattle with apparent nonchalance. He invited us to visit a local village on our third day – a chance we leapt at, although not as high as Maasai warriors are known to. We were welcomed like old friends, each urged to drink from the enamel mugs pressed into our hands. We were rather relieved to find that they contained very sweet tea, rather than the Maasai’s famed blood-and-milk concoction. This relief must have shown on our faces, as the assembled kids burst out laughing.

Two nights at Tortilis Camp Amboseli

To reach Amboseli, in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, we flew back to Nairobi and were then driven through the leafy suburb of Langata and the town of Kiserian, which, like a certain famous farm, was at the foot of the Ngong Hills. We enjoyed seeing glimpses of everyday Kenyan life as we slowed for shoppers crossing the road from market stalls. The place names (many in Maa, the language of the Maasai) were delightful: Ongata Rongai, Olooloitikosh, Kajiado. We ticked off the villages one by one as the towering mass of Kilimanjaro on the horizon grew larger and ever more impressive.We hadn’t yet reached Tortilis Camp Amboseli when we encountered our first huge bull elephant. Magnificently impassive, he stood four-square in the road, blocking our way. Not that we minded – this after all was what we’d come to Amboseli to see. Our guide reversed and changed the angle, and there, rising above the elephant’s back, was the magnificent cone of Mount Kilimanjaro. When we arrived, the camp was exactly as we’d pictured it, with iconic umbrella thorn trees spreading their branches above our makuti-covered tent. We stepped up onto its stone dais, and then walked inside to find our four-poster bed with its white mosquito net.Emerging on to our deck at first light the next day, we took in a panoramic view of mountains and reflected on the fact that this camp, the first eco-lodge in Kenya, had graced this spot for a quarter of a century. Combined with ancient peaks and wrinkled elephant, this lent a sense of timelessness to the proceedings. We embraced this by leaving our watches behind – after all, game drives, leisurely Italian-style lunches and afternoon siestas are not really the sort of moments you want to experience either parcelled out in minutes, or second-hand. Watching elephant calves enjoy a mud bath proved to be the pinnacle of the final day of our Kenya safari.

To reach Amboseli, in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, we flew back to Nairobi and were then driven through the leafy suburb of Langata and the town of Kiserian, which, like a certain famous farm, was at the foot of the Ngong Hills. We enjoyed seeing glimpses of everyday Kenyan life as we slowed for shoppers crossing the road from market stalls. The place names (many in Maa, the language of the Maasai) were delightful: Ongata Rongai, Olooloitikosh, Kajiado. We ticked off the villages one by one as the towering mass of Kilimanjaro on the horizon grew larger and ever more impressive.

We hadn’t yet reached Tortilis Camp Amboseli when we encountered our first huge bull elephant. Magnificently impassive, he stood four-square in the road, blocking our way. Not that we minded – this after all was what we’d come to Amboseli to see. Our guide reversed and changed the angle, and there, rising above the elephant’s back, was the magnificent cone of Mount Kilimanjaro. When we arrived, the camp was exactly as we’d pictured it, with iconic umbrella thorn trees spreading their branches above our makuti-covered tent. We stepped up onto its stone dais, and then walked inside to find our four-poster bed with its white mosquito net.

Emerging on to our deck at first light the next day, we took in a panoramic view of mountains and reflected on the fact that this camp, the first eco-lodge in Kenya, had graced this spot for a quarter of a century. Combined with ancient peaks and wrinkled elephant, this lent a sense of timelessness to the proceedings. We embraced this by leaving our watches behind – after all, game drives, leisurely Italian-style lunches and afternoon siestas are not really the sort of moments you want to experience either parcelled out in minutes, or second-hand. Watching elephant calves enjoy a mud bath proved to be the pinnacle of the final day of our Kenya safari.

What sets it apart

Our affordable African safari gave us the opportunity to experience iconic Kenyan destinations by staying at more affordable safari camps where the emphasis was on providing shared wildlife and cultural experiences.As well as encounters with incredible wildlife, and mutually rewarding interactions with local people, the opportunity to sit around a campfire each evening and discuss the day’s wildlife happenings with fellow safari aficionados from around the world made the experience even richer.While we may not have been staying at the most luxurious lodges in Kenya, we wanted for nothing. Each lodge on our itinerary was designed to achieve a balance between providing for all our needs, and not impeding our ability to see and feel the African bush all around us.We ate well, slept well, and the absence of the occasional frill did nothing to lessen the thrill of being in some of Africa’s most beautiful and prolific wild places. Although the three lodges on our affordable African safari itinerary were quite different, they had certain things in common: warm, friendly hospitality; sincere concern for our comfort and ease; and a genuine focus on the wildlife dramas unfolding all around us. It was a chance to experience safari the way it was meant to be – with the emphasis on the essentials.

Our affordable African safari gave us the opportunity to experience iconic Kenyan destinations by staying at more affordable safari camps where the emphasis was on providing shared wildlife and cultural experiences.

As well as encounters with incredible wildlife, and mutually rewarding interactions with local people, the opportunity to sit around a campfire each evening and discuss the day’s wildlife happenings with fellow safari aficionados from around the world made the experience even richer.

While we may not have been staying at the most luxurious lodges in Kenya, we wanted for nothing. Each lodge on our itinerary was designed to achieve a balance between providing for all our needs, and not impeding our ability to see and feel the African bush all around us.

We ate well, slept well, and the absence of the occasional frill did nothing to lessen the thrill of being in some of Africa’s most beautiful and prolific wild places. Although the three lodges on our affordable African safari itinerary were quite different, they had certain things in common: warm, friendly hospitality; sincere concern for our comfort and ease; and a genuine focus on the wildlife dramas unfolding all around us. It was a chance to experience safari the way it was meant to be – with the emphasis on the essentials.

DAY 1–3

Elephant Bedroom Camp overlooks the Ngiro River. © Atua Enkop Africa

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Following a transfer to Wilson Airport, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Samburu National Reserve You’ll then take a transfer to Elephant Bedroom Camp, where you’ll spend three nights.

DAY 4–6

Mara Ngenche Safari Camp is situated at the confluence of the Mara and Talek rivers. © Atua Enkop Africa

After a transfer from Elephant Bedroom Camp to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to the Masai Mara. A transfer will take you to Mara Ngenche Safari Camp, where you’ll spend three nights.

DAY 7–8

Get some quality family time by enjoying breakfast together on the verandah of the family tented room at Tortilis Camp Amboseli. © Elewana Collection

After a transfer from Mara Ngenche Safari Camp to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Nairobi. A transfer will take you to Tortilis Camp Amboseli in Amboseli, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 9

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya.

After a transfer from Tortilis Camp Amboseli to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. A transfer will then take you to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, also in Nairobi, for your onward flight.

  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, taking into account when you’d like to travel, how long you’d like to be away for, who you’d be travelling with, what safari lodge style you’d prefer, and more.
  • This classic affordable safari idea is simply to show you what’s possible. To see what this type of safari costs, and what’s generally included, click hereFor a general overview of African safari prices, you can click through to our blog.
  • We also offer a curated selection of Kenya safari packages, wrapped and priced for your convenience, click here to explore them.

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