This New Safari Lodge in Kenya Offers a Close-Up Look at Africa’s Last Remaining ‘Super Tusker’ Elephants

Opened in Kenya’s first community-owned conservancy, Angama Amboseli pays homage to the large-tusked elephants that roam near the lodge.

A guest suite at Angama Amboseli with views of Mt. Kilimanjaro

A guest suite at Angama Amboseli with views of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Sammy Njoroge/Angama Amboseli


The vibe: A contemporary safari lodge with unparalleled views of Mount Kilimanjaro

Location: Kimana Sanctuary, Kenya | View on Google Maps

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The AFAR take

The 5,700-acre Kimana Sanctuary, Kenya’s first community-owned conservancy, is home to the Masai community and some of Africa’s last remaining super tusker elephants, who move between the nearby Chyulu Hills and Amboseli National Parks.

It is also the home of Angama Amboseli, which in October 2023 opened 10 suites styled in serene natural tones offset by stark modern blacks. The suites each feature outdoor showers, private verandas, and uninterrupted views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. The sister property to Angama Mara (located in Kenya’s vast Masai Mara ecosystem, about 300 miles west), Angama Amboseli has an aesthetic that complements the environment: The round infinity pool sits above a lowered water trench from which resident elephants can drink; elephant dung is used to add texture to exterior walls; and a semicircle chartreuse sofa in the main lounge area is inspired by the leaves of the ubiquitous acacia trees.

Who’s it for?

Safari veterans looking to see rare birds and large-tusked elephants while learning how communities coexist with wildlife in this region.

Guests of Angama Amboseli approach a herd of elephants in a gray open-air vehicle

Wildlife viewing at Angama Amboseli

Tanveer Badal

The location

Kimana Sanctuary is widely believed to be Kenya’s first community-owned sanctuary, meaning that it is owned by 844 local landlords who together make decisions on how the land is used. Today the sanctuary is exclusively available to guests of Angama Amboseli. Travelers can fly in from Nairobi to Amboseli National Park using a local carrier such as Safarilink. I arrived at the camp from Nairobi, where I’m based, after a smooth three-hour drive down Mombasa Highway; a few miles after we turned on to the quieter C102, a giraffe crossed the road, welcoming us to a wilder side of Kenya.

As Kimana is sandwiched between several larger parks, including Amboseli National Park, Tsavo West National Park, and the Chyulu Hills the sanctuary serves as a corridor for the area’s wildlife. The establishment of Angama in 2023, as well as the lodge’s long-term partnership with Big Life Foundation (a nonprofit conservation organization that focuses on collaborative wildlife management), helped to strengthen the sanctuary’s conservation efforts. In the main area at the lodge, staff members can walk guests through a giant stylized metal map with arrows depicting how animals, including long-tusked elephants, tend to move through the region.

One luxury of Angama Amboseli is its exclusivity: You can roll out of bed in your pajamas and be one of the few people to see the sunrise view of Mount Kilimanjaro. The only vehicles permitted in the 5,700-acre sanctuary are those from the lodge. Guests can do a safari at night, when a whole different set of fauna emerges.

For travelers looking for more of a traditional game drive, the staff can take people to the nearby Amboseli National Park. The Angama team is working to create a new gate by August 1 that would cut the travel time to the park in half, to 20 to 30 minutes. The national park is also home to a large elephant herd as well as resident cats and more than 600 species of birds, giraffes, and zebras.

Angama’s people-driven ethos extends to the surrounding community. Seventy percent of the staff are hired from the area’s villages and towns.

The rooms

One of the most memorable aspects of Angama Amboseli is its design. The lodge is sleek and earthy, with a thoughtful use of materials, colors, and shapes. Neutrals contrast with occasional pops of color: a giant half-circle light-green sofa whose color mimics the acacia leaves, ochre tables and chairs that resemble the clay earth, and white globe lights.

Each of the 10 tents offers private indoor-outdoor living space and outdoor showers, and outside lounge areas look right onto Mount Kilimanjaro. Rooms are stocked with homemade snacks, decanted bottles of gin and whiskey, and painting supplies for visitors to use during their stay.

The pachyderm theme is omnipresent in the design. The spacious tents, when you squint, look like modern renderings of elephants. Elephant dung adds additional texture to some exterior walls. Below the rounded pool, elephants and other wildlife can drink from a unchlorinated trench.

The art gallery features paintings by Nairobi-based artist Sophie Walbeoffe that depict elephants, flamingos, and other famed residents of Amboseli National Park, as well as wildlife photography by Sammy Njoroge, who runs the lodge’s studio, and more. Njoroge and his team allow guests to rent DSLR cameras with zoom lenses, and after you return from a game drive, they can help edit your photos. Near the entrance, the lodge has displayed replica tusks of Tolstoy, one of the beloved local super tuskers that frequented Kimana Sanctuary until he tragically died in 2022 after sustaining injuries from what is believed to have been a crop-raiding incident. Put together, his tusks weighed nearly 250 pounds, and the right one was more than 100 inches long.

This guest suite bedroom at Angama Amboseli has a four-poster bed, stone floors, and sliding doors that lead to a private veranda.

A guest suite bedroom at Angama Amboseli

Brian Siambi/Angama Amboseli

The food and drink

The resident chefs can prepare anything from simple pastas to multicourse meals. Everything uses simple, fresh ingredients, many of which are locally sourced. I enjoyed the lavish breakfast spread with homemade granola, and at other meals I gravitated toward soups made from seasonal vegetables, and fresh bread served alongside the beautiful main dishes. If guests are celebrating a special occasion, staff can arrange a meal in the property’s art gallery, where diners can enjoy a candlelit meal among elephant-themed paintings.

Staff and service

Before opening Angama Amboseli, staff spent three months training at sister property Angama Mara in the Masai Mara. Every guest is assigned a personal butler throughout their stay who can liaise with the staff regarding food preferences, drinks, and overall itinerary.

“We believe it’s about the people first,” says Collins Randiga, general manager of Angama Amboseli. “We take care of our guests. We also make sure that our team sleeps well, has good food, and that their families are taken care of.” Every staff member is given two weeks off after working for six (this is approximately double compared to similar lodges nearby, based on three places I asked on recent safari visits). The staff quarters are built to the same standard as guest accommodations.

Angama’s people-driven ethos extends to the surrounding community. Seventy percent of the staff are hired from the area’s villages and towns. When I visited, the lodge manager, despite not hailing from the community himself, was going to pay his respects at the funeral for a family member of one of the 844 landlords that own the land. The first day of business, Angama Amboseli hosted some of the area’s elders so they could experience, enjoy, and bless the property.

Left: Angama Amboseli has a private pool that faces Mt. Kilimanjaro. Right: Photographs of the region's super-tusker elephants hang throughout the property.

Left, the pool at Angama Amboseli; right, a portrait of an elephant in a public area of the lodge

Courtesy of Angama Amboseli


Patty’s Suite is named after sister property Angama Mara’s first guest to use a wheelchair, and features ramps, a lowered vanity, and grab rails in the bathroom. However, the main dining and lounge areas in the lodge have several stairs, which may be challenging for travelers with limited mobility.

Wildlife watch

Salash Johnson, our driver and guide, was the most knowledgeable guide I’ve ever had on a safari. Prior to working with Angama Amboseli, he was a ranger with the Big Life Foundation for seven years. With him, I learned about the great efforts rangers take to protect the area’s wildlife, particularly the elephants with characteristically large tusks that are more vulnerable to poachers. He became visibly emotional when he drove me to Tolstoy’s final resting place and explained how much the rangers had tried to protect him. His hope now is that, with Angama leasing the land and offering jobs to community members, there may be more of an incentive to protect elephants from poaching. From $1,650/person/night

Sarika Bansal is the editorial director of Afar Magazine and editor of the book Tread Brightly: Notes on Ethical Travel.
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