PieAerts Tortilis 39

Pie stayed at Elewana Tortilis Camp in Amboseli in September this year. Here he tells us why he believes that Amboseli is the most photographic place in Africa.

I think booking my trip to Amboseli was amongst my best decisions in 2020. We were so lucky to almost have the place to ourselves, sighting only four other cars throughout the week we were there. I hadn’t anticipated how epic and magnificent the landscape is with the combination of open water beds and big skies.

What is fantastic about staying at Elewana Tortilis Camp is the access to the 30,000-acre Kitirua Conservancy, a wildlife corridor which bridges Amboseli National Park with Tanzania. With the camp situated within the conservancy, guests are able to walk under supervision and travel off-road for up close and personal encounters. This is a gift to a photographer looking to capture extraordinary wildlife images.

This unique eco system in my opinion is without doubt the best place in Africa to see elephants. During September and October, the riverbeds have dried, and elephants migrate throughout the day from the surrounding woodlands to find water. We regularly came across herds in numbers from sixty to over one hundred in size.

The region is home to charities including Big Life Foundation and Cynthia Moss Amboseli Trust for Elephants who have been working tirelessly for 30 to 40 years to help protect elephants and ensure that the local people and wildlife coexist in harmony. It is testament to these successful practises that this year’s elephant calf birth rate has been one of the highest on record, including two sets of twins.

My advice to keen photographers is to invest in staying at a camp like Tortilis where the guides are first class. Our guide Jonathan was incredibly knowledgeable on the area and was well skilled in predicting animal behaviour and knowing the parameters in which we could explore. Together we would analyse animal behaviour the day before to predict the best opportunities for our game drives.

I would also encourage people to carry a long lens and a short lens and if you can run to it financially, two camera bodies. I always encourage people to stay with an elephant family. You can watch their behavioural patterns and so often patience pays off.

I also say don’t put too much pressure on yourself, it’s not always easy and sometimes you just have to rely on bush karma and enjoy the process.