Out of Africa – the Coastal Beauty

I wrote a post recently about Karen Blixen’s story – her years in Africa as told by her in the book “Out of Africa”,  which also became a famous film in mid 1980s. While her story is intriguing, I loved the book and the film much because of the way both describe the beauty of the African landscape.

mombasa kenya beach

While Karen Blixen loved her farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills close to Nairobi, and admired the natural beauty of the hills, she also got familiar with the Indian Ocean coast through her friendship and romance with Denys Finch-Hatton.

Blixen and Hatton

Finch-Hatton had purchased land and built a house right on the coast in Takaunga, just north of Mombasa. He used to bring Blixen there for romantic getaways in his small plane, Gypsy Moth. The white long stretch of beaches made a great landing strip close to the house.


Blixen fell in love with the coastal beauty and wrote in her book  ”a divine, clean, barren marine greatness, with the blue Indian Ocean before you . . .”

Mombasa beach Kenya

She continued ” When the tide is out you can still walk miles away seawards from the house, as on a tremendous, somewhat unevenly paved piazza, picking up strange long peaked shells and starfish.” And indeed, it is easy to see what she meant by that.

beach in Mombasa Kenya

Luckily Blixen was busy liquidating her coffee farm and did not accompany Finch-Hatton in May 1931 when he came to his coastal paradise for the last time. He died on his way back to Nairobi when his plane crashed in Voi where he had been spotting elephants from the air.

boats on the beach mombasa kenya

I came here for the first time almost 25 years ago – and fell in love with the beauty of the area as well. In the many years when we lived in land-locked countries in Africa, we used to come here to enjoy the ocean and everything this wonderful coast has to offer.

mombasa kenya swimming pool and sea

 Today of course, many hotels have been built on the beach both south and north of Mombasa. Many of them, although completely modern, have been built in a style that fits the African coastal landscape.

mombasa hotel pool kenya

Besides the wonderful, white beaches where we used to walk miles and miles, scuba diving on the reef or parasailing over the clear waters, one could enjoy life around the pool, do short safaris … and admire the delightful presentations of food at the dinner buffets. Many of these were true works of art beautifully displaying local seafood, fruits and vegetables.

breakfast table at the hotel in mombasa kenya

 After the dessert, one could enjoy evening entertainment by the poolside presented by Masai dancers and other local artists.

masai dancers in mombasa kenya

I have fond memories of these trips. I remember that walking on the beach, I could almost hear and see Finch-Hatton’s small plane land there for a romantic escape with Karen Blixen. I hope to visit again one day.

indian ocean beach mombasa kenya

8 thoughts on “Out of Africa – the Coastal Beauty”

  1. Dear Tiny,
    My husband and I were just talking and considering the possibility of Nairobi as a potential workplace. How very good to be able to read a little part of history here and your own experiences! Beautiful. Loving these glimpses into the places you have lived. Sharon

    1. Thanks dear Sharon. When we first came to Mombasa (I was young then!), I thought that it might be the place where my husband and I would retire in a very distant future – after life long work in Africa. But life has its ways to open doors to where one is supposed to go. So my work became broader as time went on. Of course many things were different then in Africa. I have witnessed the changes – many times to the better but sometimes unfortunately also to the worse – in these countries on my work travels more recently. If you end up working in Nairobi, who knows, I might pop in for a cup of good Kenyan coffee 🙂 Hugs Tiny

  2. How interesting to read about your life. I recently watched the film ‘Out of Africa’ and found myself enjoying the post’s references to the real life experiences of those portrayed in the film. Thank You for this; I was made to feel more connected to the beautiful countryside and history. Loved your pics; not at all what I had envisioned – so beautiful.

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