We peered at the map in frustration – once again, a T-junction turned out to be a crossroad, and the tyre marks headed in the opposite direction. “Not so much a vague map as a misleading one,” my father remarked of the hand-drawn map we had been given at our lodge a couple of hours earlier. It looked good, but it most certainly took liberties with distances and turnings. After some deliberation, we settled for a road that wasn’t on the map, but seemed to be heading in the right direction, and after a couple of miles were rewarded with a view of Elerai camp.
Located within its own conservation area, Elerai is a community lodge just east of Amboseli national park. The location is fabulous – on one side, it has sweeping views of the national park, and to the other an unbeatable view of Mt Kilimanjaro. The dining area looks down onto a small watering hole, which sees a profusion of game, such as elephant, giraffe, eland and buffalo. The accommodation, a mixture of stone cottages and tents, were particularly lovely, with good all-round views.
Admittedly, we weren’t sure we wanted to be located outside of the park – it is a 30-minute drive to Kimana gate – but its beautiful seclusion is a reason to visit Elerai in its own right. It is also one of the more affordable camps in the area, costing around Ksh 11,500 per person full-board.
Our first evening, we spent exploring Elerai’s own conservancy, a wilderness area in its own right with a elephant, antelope and giraffe all easy to spot. We ended up in our own vehicle as the camp has only a couple of vehicles for guests (book early!), which meant we perhaps didn’t see as much as we might otherwise have. But the next morning, we headed early for Amboseli and were rewarded with elephants wading through marshes against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro, hippo and of course a plethora of birdlife.
Is it better to stay in Amboseli itself? If you favour quieter spots, then probably not. The lodges outside are often more secluded, and in some cases only a few minutes’ drive from the Kimana gate. There are of course some top-end lodges in the park itself, but the most boutique of those get booked up quickly.
About the Author
I'm a former travel magazine editor, focused on Kenya, before which I covered news in Africa and beyond. These days, I travel with my kids.