Far away in Africa

Where’s My Backpack: Distance

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This shot of Kilimanjaro, which is actually miles and miles away, was taken from Kenya’s Mombasa Highway near Kibwezi just after the rains. Below it are the green cones of the Chyulu Hills on the approach to Tsavo. Like Mount Kenya, this huge old volcano is very elusive. Sometimes it will fill the sky, other times it is more like a mirage. The next shot was taken in the early morning during the dry season. The mountain often appears with the sunrise, but twenty minutes later you will see nothing at all in the space that it occupied.




This dirt road is heading back towards the Mombasa Highway from Kenya Agriculture Research Institute’s Range Station at Kiboko. Buffalo lurk in the thorn scrub, and much else besides.


dawn on Tiwi with dugout

Early morning on the reef at Tiwi Beach, South Mombasa. The dug-outs belong to the local Digo fishermen, who make a living selling their catch to tourists staying that the local beach villages. (See Beaches – Mombasa)


Capricho and palms

A glimpse of Maweni Beach Cottages, built in the local style: coral rag walls and high makuti roofs thatched with coconut palm. Many of the local coconut plantations are ailing, due to too much tapping of flowering shoots to make the local brew tembo.


Mara grassland 3

Mara grasslands and, in the distance, the Ololua Escarpment.



A room with a view, the ‘penthouse suite’ of the erstwhile Island Hotel, Shela Village, Lamu. This room had three whole walls of windows – the absolutely most perfect place for Nosy Writer to survey local life.



“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”

Karen Blixen Out of Africa

The view that Karen Blixen saw from the veranda of her home outside Nairobi.



The Mombasa Highway just north of Kiboko. This shot was taken as we were heading to Nairobi about sixty miles away. The arid scrubland is part of Ukambani, home of the Akamba people, but Maasai come to trade here too. It was unusual to see the road with absolutely nothing and nobody on it.

And finally back up the Rift, north of Nairobi, a view across Lake Elmenteita of Lord Delamere’s Nose. This was the name the Maasai gave to the exploded volcano on the lake shore. Lord Delamere was one of the first white settlers in what was then British East Africa. I leave it to you to imagine what his nose looked like. Before Lord Delamere arrived to occupy this part of Africa, the hill was known as the Sleeping Warrior.

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© 2013 Tish Farrell

20 thoughts on “Far away in Africa

    1. Thanks so much, ilargia. These are old views, of course. So I don’t have them as an excuse for stalled writing – except of course when I’m trawling through my picture files. That can take hours and hours.

  1. It’s fascinating for me to view bits of Africa in this way. I have read quite a bit about the continent (many years ago), but haven’t seen much photography. I often wondered why the native population did not build permanent cities and monuments such as were found in the Americas.

    1. Hello, Shimon. That’s a most interesting observation. You’re right there doesn’t seem to be anything quite so monumental as you would see in the Americas, but then African peoples build in mud brick, which as you know from the historic tel sites in your neck of the woods, only survives while people are maintaining it. Climate change in Africa has a lot to answer for too, and especially the expanding Sahara. Satellite imagery is now revealing lost settlements under the sands, some may pre-date Ancient Egypt by quite a long chalk. There were also stone built settlements like Great Zimbabwe across southern and eastern Africa during the European Middle Ages. And of course some of the towns of the Ancient Empire of Mali still exist – e.g. Timbuktu with all its centuries’ old libraries. The other thing that I think may be a factor is slaving. It went on for 500 years, and I don’t think its full effects have been evaluated. Many ancient kingdoms in West Africa were decimated, and colonialism put a lid on what did survive. It was not convenient to acknowledge that subject peoples had anything that could be remotely called ‘civilization’.

  2. Ahhh Africa! You are msking me homesick. My favorite photo is of the Mara grasslands. Your shots do capture the vast seemingly endless lanscapes. I grew up in South Africa, not Kenya but Africa is unmistakably Africa.


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