Located on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is a fantastic place to explore Swahili culture and get close to exotic wildlife — lions, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, impalas, gazelles, warthogs, wildebeests, and so many birds.
The capital city of Nairobi sits on a plateau between the Indian Ocean (hello, picturesque beaches!) and the Great Rift Valley (lush green hills, blue lakes, hot pink flamingoes). Nairobi hums with energy and everything you’d expect in a major capital. The city also gets a little wild — literally — with Nairobi National Park inside the city limits.
As you might expect in Africa, Kenyan history is basically two big buckets: before colonialism and after. The rich influences that led to the Swahili culture — Arab, Persian, Indian, and African — are all on display in cities like Mombasa. Wander the narrow alleys and take in the romantic architecture, then cruise on a white-sailed dhow to the nearby island of Zanzibar.
Outside the cities, get ready for outdoor adventures with a jeep safari, a hike on Mt. Kenya, a cycling tour through Hell’s Gate (!), or a visit to a Maasai village to experience their traditional lifestyle.
In this episode, we daydream about safari animals, listen to African music, and explore why Kenyans are such fantastic runners. Then we recommend five great books that transported us to Kenya on the page, including an epic poem, a deeply moving graphic novel, a memoir of derring-do, a challenging family saga, and a sweet rom-com about bird-watching.
Here are the books about Kenya we recommend on the show:
For a complete roundup of all the books we recommend, plus a full transcript and the other cool stuff we talked about, visit the Episode 54 show notes.
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Top image courtesy of Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock.
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