'Happy Valley' was the name given to the region of Kenya's Central Highlands where a community of affluent, hedonistic white expatriates settled between the wars. Including the writer Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), the pioneering aviator Beryl Markham and the troubled socialite Idina Sackville whose life was told in Frances Osborne's bestselling The Bolter, the Happy Valley set's notoriety was sealed in 1931 with the sensational - and still unsolved - murder of the Earl of Errol, the investigation of which laid bare the extent of the set's decadence and irresponsibility, and made for another bestselling book in James Fox's White Mischief. But what is left now? Juliet Barnes, who has lived in Kenya for many years, has set out to explore Happy Valley in a remarkable and indefatigable archaeological quest to find the homes and haunts of this extraordinary and vanished set of people - grand residences like Clouds up in the hills that once hosted opulent and scandalous parties. With the help of African guides, and guided by the memories of elderly expats she tracks down to the Muthiaga old enough to have first-hand memories of the likes of Idina and Lord Errol and the lives they led, what she finds - ruins reclaimed by luxuriant bush, tumbledown dwellings in which an African family ekes a subsistence living, or even a modest school - is a revelation of the state of modern Africa that makes the gilded era of the Happy Valley set seem even more fantastic. A book to set alongside such singular evocations of Africa and its strange colonial history as The Africa House, "The Ghosts of Happy Valley: The Biography" is a mesmerising blend of travel narrative, social history and personal quest.
Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to visit her father in Nigeria — a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts and sense of individuality. After her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she didn’t return for several years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father given his life for. Saro-Wiwa travels from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the decrepit kitsch of the Transwonderland Amusement Park. She explores Nigerian Christianity, delves into the country’s history of slavery, examines the corrupting effect of oil, and ponders the huge success of Nollywood. She finds the country as exasperating as ever, and frequently despairs at the corruption and inefficiency she encounters. But she also discovers that it si far more beautiful and varied than she had ever imagined, with its captivating thick tropical rainforest and ancient palaces and monuments. Most engagingly of all, she introduces us to the many people she meets, and gives us hilarious insights into the African character, its passion, wit and ingenuity.
Following the success of the acclaimed "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" and "The Great Railway Bazaar," "The Last Train to Zona Verde" is an ode to the last African journey of the world's most celebrated travel writer. "Happy again, back in the kingdom of light," writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey through the continent he knows and loves best. Theroux first came to Africa as a twenty-two-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, and the pull of the vast land never left him. Now he returns, after fifty years on the road, to explore the little-traveled territory of western Africa and to take stock both of the place and of himself. His odyssey takes him northward from Cape Town, through South Africa and Namibia, then on into Angola, wishing to head farther still until he reaches the end of the line. Journeying alone through the greenest continent, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of postcolonial independence movements. Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sunbaked heartland of the savanna, Theroux crosses "the Red Line" into a different Africa: "the improvised, slapped-together Africa of tumbled fences and cooking fires, of mud and thatch," of heat and poverty, and of roadblocks, mobs, and anarchy. After 2,500 arduous miles, he comes to the end of his journey in more ways than one, a decision he chronicles with typically unsparing honesty in a chapter called "What Am I Doing Here?" Vivid, witty, and beautifully evocative, "The Last Train to Zona Verde" is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers.
In Europe, 14% of the adult population is classed as disabled; the figure is 21% in the US. But the horizons of people with limited mobility, whether through disability or age, are fast expanding. This guidebook is the first to explore the five major safari countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa – specifically with limited mobility in mind. It examines the services offered by African operators catering to disabled travellers, enabling easy comparisons and informed choices. It discovers accessible accommodation in world-famous locations such as the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem in East Africa, Namibia's Etosha National Park and Botswana's elephant paradise, Chobe. With explanations of flight and airport procedure, travel insurance and health concerns, and suggestions for the best itineraries for each region, it opens the doors of Africa to those with limited mobility.
In the powerful travel-writing tradition of Ryszard Kapuscinski and V.S. Naipaul, a haunting memoir of a dangerous and disorienting year of self-discovery in one of the world's unhappiest countries.
'Be vigilant when driving through Africa: camels are careless when crossing the road and women carrying waterpots are little more watchful' warn the authors of this fifth edition of Africa Overland. They also give updated information on each country's political and security situation (Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia are on the up; since this guide's last edition, security in Western Sudan and Eastern Chad has turned sour); provide an expanded Route Outlines section including information on border crossings; and offer revised recommendations on vehicles including practical coverage on buying a vehicle, maintenance and driving.