#FilmandTravel: 8 Classic Films that will awaken your wanderlust for Kenya

Has a Movie ever inspired your next vacation? With epic adventures and stunning landscapes, have you ever found yourself wanting to replicate what you just saw on the big screen within your own travels?


With this round-up of some of our favourite wanderlust-inducing films set in Kenya, We’ll have you packing your bags set for an adventure in no time.

Movies about/set in Kenya transport you right into the heart of our amazing landscapes and breathtaking backgrounds. With such fascinating backdrops; films shot in the country, everything from Fiction, Non-Fiction to Documentary; you are guaranteed of absolutely stunning result.

Travel Movie #1. Out of Africa (1985)

Set in the colonial Kenya of 20th century, this is a tragic autobiographical tale of a big-game hunter who has a steamy affair with a Danish baroness and plantation owner. Once you see the lovely reserves and hills of Kenya in this movie, you will leave no stone unturned till you make a trip to this side.

This romantic, beautiful classic is one of the most acclaimed movies of all time. Baroness Karen Blixen (Streep,) a strong-willed Dutch woman, moves to Kenya and starts a coffee plantation in the early part of the 20th century with her new husband (more of a business arrangement than a marriage of love). Her husband heads to war (and takes up with other women) and in his absence she falls in love with a mysterious nomad hunter  Denys Finch Hatton (Redford), who falls deeply in love with her too. Africa and the people become her home, as does Denys.  Winner of 7 Academy Awards, Out of Africa is a true story…An Absolute MUST See

The story is told in narrative by Karen, as she is now an old woman, thinking back to this time of love, passion, adventure and loss. Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer are masters of their craft as they bring these characters to life. The film was honored with several academy awards including Best Picture(1985),a well deserved Best Director for Pollack, Best Screenplay by Kurt Luedtke, Original Score for the genius of John Barry, and one for the gorgeous Cinematography among others…..Reviewer from Amazon: Laurie from Whittier, CA 

Travel Movie #2. Nowhere in Africa (2001)

Both epic and heartbreakingly intimate, Nowhere in Africa begins with a Jewish woman named Jettel Redlich fleeing Nazi Germany with her daughter Regina, to join her husband, Walter, on a farm in Kenya. At first, Jettel refuses to adjust to her new circumstances (she brought with her a set of china dishes and an evening gown), while Regina adapts readily to this new world, forming a strong bond with her father’s cook, an African named Owuor. But this is only the beginning of a series of uprooting, and as the surface of their lives is torn away, Walter and Jettel find they have little in common, and must–under tumultuous circumstances–build their marriage anew.

With incredible skill and passion, Nowhere in Africa manages to bring you fully into every change in this family’s life; it richly deserves the Academy Award® it received in 2002. A powerful, deeply moving film. –Bret Fetzer

Travel Movie #3. Born Free (1966)

Married couple George Adamson and Joy Adamson have long lived in northern Kenya for George’s work as the senior game warden of the region. One of George’s primary responsibilities is to deal with dangerous animals that may be chronically threatening to humans, livestock and/or crops. It is in this vein that George and his staff end up killing a man eating lion and its lioness, resulting in their three young female cubs being orphaned. Although difficult to begin, George and Joy are able to wean and take care of the three cubs, who they adopt as pets. But soon, they know they have to provide a more suitable environment for the cubs, namely sending them to Rotterdam Zoo… that is except for the smallest, who they have named Elsa and to who Joy in particular has become attached as the emotional fighter among the three. As Elsa grows into lioness maturity, George and Joy provide her with greater freedom away from their property, which may get her into trouble as a largely tame animal. Ultimately, John Kendall, George’s boss, directs them to send Elsa to a zoo like they did with her sisters, especially as with anyone in George’s job he is soon being reassigned. Joy cannot bear the thought of Elsa being locked up for the rest of her life, believing that they can reintegrate her back into the wild instead, something that had never been done with a tame lion. John gives them three months to accomplish this task, which most specifically involves getting Elsa to be able to kill for food, other creatures which up to this point she has seen only as fellow playthings, and to be accepted by other lions, most specifically mate with and provide food for a male partner while standing up successfully to female competitors.

Travel Movie #4. To Walk With Lions (1999)

More than 30 years after the Academy Award triumph Born Free moved millions, To Walk With Lions brings you the dramatic continuation of George Adamson’s fight to save Kenya’s wildlife. Together with his young assistant Tony Fitzjohn, Adamson battles to keep the animals on his game reserve “Kora” from dangerous poachers and deadly “shifta” warriors who are determined to destroy rhinos and elephants for their tusks, and lions for their rich pelts.
Academy Award Nominee Richard Harris of Gladiator and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone takes you to the wilds of Africa in an inspirational story about one man’s magnificent crusade.

Travel Movie #5. Africa’s Elephant Kingdom (1998)

Africa’s Elephant Kingdom takes you into the heart of the continent and face-to-face with the great elephants of Africa. Featuring spectacular cinematography and the amazing picture and sound quality that comes from giant-screen film, this is the same widely acclaimed motion picture playing in giant-screen theaters worldwide. Africa’s Elephant Kingdom is the story of one elephant clan’s struggle for survival as it travels across vast stretches of land in search of dwindling sources of food and water. Wide and high above Africa, the camera travels over waterfalls, rivers, plains, and forests. Large groups of elephants move across the plains. One comes closer. He is massive, weathered, craggy. He is the Old Bull, our storyteller, and it is through his eyes that the film dramatically unfolds.

Travel Movie #6. Africa – The Serengeti (1994)

There is a place on earth where it is still the morning of life and the great herds still run free. Africa: The Serengeti takes you on an extraordinary journey to East Africa to view a spectacle, few humans have ever witnessed: The great migration. Journey with more than two million wildebeests, zebras and antelopes as they travel over 500 miles across the Serengeti plains…. A MUST SEE

Travel Movie #7. White Masai (2005)

The film White Masai follows the story of a young Swiss girl, Carola, whose vacation in Kenya takes an interesting turn when she becomes infatuated with a Samburu Warrior Lemalian. Although traveling with her boyfriend Stefan, Carola decides to leave him to stay with her new lover. She makes her way to Lemalian’s tribe in Barsaloi where she is welcomed by his people. There, she has to adapt to the Masai’s way of life and get used to their food which includes milk mixed with blood. She also has to face her husband’s attitude towards women and what he expects from a wife. In the long run however, faced with cultural differences, Carola is forced to make an ultimate decision for herself and her daughter.

The film introduces you to the samburu culture and their way of life. This is one of the Kenyan communities that has managed to keep their traditions intact even with the claim of civilisation. You will also definitely enjoy the beautiful landscapes showcased in the movie.

Travel Movie #8. The First Grader (2010)

In a remote mountain village in the Kenyan bush, a primary school is bursting at the seems with hundreds of children who have been given a chance at free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. Perhaps the most intriguing applicant is an 80-something year old veteran Mau Mau tribesman, desperate to learn to read after a lifetime of fighting for the liberation of his homeland. This triumphant story places a humble, elderly man alongside 6-year-old students to learn a skill so many of us often take for granted. This film became an instant inspiration to the Kenyan nation and world, reminding us of the courage it sometimes takes to achieve our dreams.  A poignant film with great purpose.

With this movie, we conclude our list of must watch films set in our beautiful country. The number of movies out there however that can awaken your Kenyan wanderlust is endless; so much so that attempting to list them all would be but a tiresome affair.

If you haven’t seen these movies yet, you owe it to yourself to check them out. Don’t go saying we haven’t given you a weekend plan now!!


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