Thursday, 5 September 2013

Kenya Sketchbook 1

Holidays abroad are always a good chance to chill out with a sketchbook. New sights and sounds reboot the artistic imagination and give drawing skills a kick up the backside.

Last month, my partner and I spent a fortnight in Kenya. We had an 8-day safari along the Great Rift Valley followed by a trip to the Kenyan coast. 

Today, Friday and Monday, I'll be posting some of my sketches, together with links and a few audio recordings.

This chap boarded at Abu Dhabi with wife, 5 children and innumerable rucksacks. He distributed them (the rucksacks) in overhead bins throughout the length of the plane and spent the rest of the flight revisiting them. Unbelievably, he was also on the flight back and I'm sure he'd acquired another child by then.

Nairobi Upper Hill Campsite and first experience of log-heated, open air showers. Being able to reach out the bedroom window and grab a banana for breakfast was a novelty.

Carnivore is Nairobi's famous, strictly non-vegetarian restaurant. They advertise themselves as providing "a beast of a feast". I've now eaten crocodile - which is probably the best way round. 

Carnivore also serves buffalo bread - small, spherical objects which I doubt very much are made of bread. I fed mine to the restaurant cat and I'm pretty certain that cats don't eat bread.

Dawa is a Kenyan speciality and is Swahili for 'magic potion'. That's always a good starting point for any drink. It consists of a whole lime, sugar, vodka, lemon, crushed ice and honey. It is claimed to cure all known ills and is therefore highly recommended.  Hic.

Camp Carnelleys at Lake Naivasha. It is on the edge of the lake and at night has an electric fence to keep out wandering hippos.

By contrast, Kembu Campsite, just north west of Lake Nakuru, is much more old colonial in style. We stayed in a timber bungalow with a superb verandah.

It took a while to get my eye in for drawing the locals. To be frank, political correctness was kicking in and proving a severe inhibitor. Once I spotted what Gado in the Daily Nation was getting away with, I relaxed and began to enjoy myself.

Askari, or security guards, were at all the places we stayed in. This is actually a member of the tourist police. They take their tourists seriously over there.

Airport security at Malindi Airport.

One of the local entrepreneurs with his hand-carved business card.

For more drawings, see:


We booked through Gates Travel in Kendal and flew with Etihad and Kenya Airways. The safari was a family group trip and our guide was Janine Angell of Activity Safaris. Our rather cool Maasai driver was Kim from SunTrek Safaris.

Click on any of the sketches to see the full, HD version.


  1. Sounds fab, apart from the guy with 5 kids on the plane :-)

  2. Wow! Love the sketches! They give a great feel for the trip. Looks like a fabulous time was had by all! :)

  3. Did you happen to bring any of that magic potion back with you, Colin? Or would it not get past customs?

    Great sketches and account. Excellent stuff.

  4. Even better … I have the recipe.