Tortilis camp was designed and built by Stefano Cheli, opening in 1994. A magnificent site, that belongs to a Masai family from the local community and was promised to a big hotel developer that was struggling to get the Kenya Wildlife Service, at the time under the management of Dr Richard Leakey, to give permission to build a large 200 bed hotel. The Masai family came to Stefano and asked him if he would like the site, Dr Leakey approved the plans for a small environmentally friendly camp; and Tortilis was born. (The original plans for Tortilis were in Dr Leakey’s briefcase when he was involved in a plane crash that lost him both legs; and the plans had to be resubmitted!).
The first of its kind, Tortilis Camp was the first “boutique eco-lodge” in Kenya. Being a professional safari guide, and with a passion for the wilderness, Stefano designed a lodge that blends into the hillside, deliberately difficult to see, small generators and invertors, built using local materials and most importantly of all – employing the majority of its staff from the local Masai community, the first and still the only camp in Amboseli to do so.
Tortilis Camp won the prestigious Tourism for Tomorrow award for its ground breaking eco-design and ethos in 1996. Tortilis still is a leader in conservation, (a link to the conservation section), working with African Conservation Centre on maintaining exclosures, preserving the Kitirua conservancy, and the leader in Amboseli for social responsibility.
But Tortilis is not all about “eco” and “conservation”; having guided luxury safaris for many years, combined with his natural Italian flair, Stefano designed a camp that takes advantage of the truly spectacular views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the best views in Amboseli; he knew that clients don’t just want to lie on their bed in a tent, but to also enjoy an elegant, spacious, and comfortable verandah. First class guiding in comfortable open vehicles, Tortilis Camp was the first to use open vehicles within a National Park; and of course, after an early morning in the fresh air, delicious home cooked cuisine!