Karen Blixen Tour in Kenya
Women’s Studies into the Africa of Karen Blixen
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Welcome to Nairobi where your adventure in women’s studies into the African world of author Karen Blixen begins. Transfer to your hotel, settle in and begin exploring the local area on your own if you wish. You’ll gather with your fellow travelers and tour guide for dinner tonight and talk about the exciting days ahead where you’ll have a glimpse into the land and people of Kenya that Karen cherished so very muc
Since you’re here in Kenya, you most likely loved the movie Out of Africa or read the book with the same title written in Karen Blixen’s pen name of Isak Dinesen. So without delay, you’ll travel this morning to the museum and colonial farmhouse where she lived from 1914 until 1931.
You may feel like you are immersed in an earlier time as you wander amidst the peaceful gardens with sweeping views of her beloved Ngong Hills. In her home, which has many of her original furnishings, you will almost see her as you listen to the story of those early years of the century, the heartaches and tragedies, and through it all, the great loves of her life ─ her home, the people of Kenya, and of course, Denys Finch Hatton. All the stories you may have forgotten from the movie or book will come back to you as you explore and learn more about Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa.
Not far from Karen’s home, you have more exploring to do as you experience the different aspects of Kenya. Kazuri Beads is nearby, established in 1975 to provide employment for single mothers. Now more than 300 women create intricate, hand-painted beads with one-of-a-kind designs, turning them into delightful jewelry. You will be able to see the elaborate process and the creations that reflect Kenya’s natural style and beauty ─ and you may want to buy one to bring home with you!
Then travel to the Giraffe Center, officially the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (Kenya), to learn about these remarkable animals, why they’re endangered, conservation efforts to protect them, and the environmental education offered here to the youth of Kenya. Then at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, you’ll find orphaned baby elephants, discover their stories, and learn how they are being raised so that they can be reintroduced to the wild.
Tonight, in keeping with the serene landscapes of Karen Blixen’s world, you’ll stay in cottages near her home that are sheltered in a lush forest with one of Kenya’s original formal gardens filled with hundreds of flowers, butterflies, and birds. Just imagine the Kenya she saw and loved.
Karen wrote: “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong HiIls.” And so today that is exactly where you are going ─ to hike through the Ngong Forest Reserve into the Ngong Hills. Karen and Denys loved these hills and used to hunt lions here. But alas, the lions are gone, and Denys is buried here in a favorite spot that your ranger guide will show you. As you look down over the Great Rift Valley, you see the same magnificent landscapes that they saw. As she wrote: “The views were immensely wide. Everything you saw made for greatness and freedom and unequaled nobility.”
Follow a trail that crosses all seven hills, and consider summiting any that you choose. Enjoy this lovely day walking in her long ago footsteps and imagining the long ago visions of the Ngong Hills she loved so very much.
Karen loved the people of Kenya. For a glimpse into the lives of some of those living here, you will spend the day among the Masai in their homeland in the Ngong Hills. You will be guided to learn about their culture; you’ll participate in their dances, songs, and practice jewelry-making. Enjoy this opportunity to get to know the men, women, and children of the Masai and talk to them about their way of life in an interactive experience with warm, friendly hosts, offered as part of the efforts of a non-profit devoted to eliminating poverty in Kenya.
Within sight of the city of Nairobi roam lions and giraffes, rhinos and cheetahs, zebras and gazelles, hippos and leopards. Take some great photos at Nairobi National Park on an early morning game drive that contrasts the city skyline with its wild inhabitants.
At the Bomas, get to know more of the people Karen held dear as you explore Kenya’s cultural heritage this afternoon in an amazing village that demonstrates the life and traditions of 42 different ethnic groups. Your guide will help in understanding Kenyan life and the diversity among the groups as you explore the different tribe’s unique customs. You’ll see vibrant dancers, the enormous differences in housing and mud huts, and fascinating crafts and storytelling. The village was created by the government almost 50 years ago to preserve the ancient ways using the authentic materials and techniques of each tribe. Have fun getting to know the diverse people and enjoy the impressive dancers!
Spend your last day exploring the land Karen loved so much at one of Kenya’s spectacular national parks. You’ll start early and see some of the beautiful countryside and views of the Great Rift Valley along the way. Do you remember the beautiful scenes from the movie where Karen and Denys are flying in a biplane over incredibly breathtaking landscapes ─ and in one area below is an enormous sea of pink flamingoes? That’s where you’re headed! So much of Kenya is the land she loved and lived … and eventually, the land she wrote about.
You’re headed to Lake Nakuru National Park, home to more than flamingoes, of course. Although the lake is world famous for that magnificent display of up to 2 million flamingoes feeding in the rich waters that you saw in the movie. With both a morning and afternoon game drive, you’ll be on the lookout for both black and white rhinos, hippos, and very unusual tree-climbing lions! Leopards, giraffes, and zebras! Keep watch! After the last game drive, you can also take a boat ride on Lake Navaisha for more incredible views of wildlife.
After returning to Nairobi, enjoy a relaxing farewell dinner with your fellow travelers as you reflect on your shared adventure to discover and bring to life Karen Blixen’s beloved Kenya.
Say farewell to Kenya today, or stay on and continue to explore more of Africa. Even though Karen never returned after leaving in 1931, perhaps you will come back one day!
Travel to Kenya for an overseas adventure in women’s studies into the world of Karen Blixen revealed in her famous book Out of Africa and portrayed in the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. Visit her home and the Ngong Hills she treasured and learn about her life and loves, tragedies and heartaches. Wander amidst the tranquil gardens of her home and imagine her there. Walk in the footsteps of the Kenya she loved ─ and discover the land, the wildlife, and the people of today’s Kenya — their lives, challenges, and efforts in conservation and relieving poverty.
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