East Africa, Kenya

The Chyulu Hills

Chullu Hils, South Eastern Kenya

All I wanted to do now was to get back to Africa. We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it alreadyErnest Hemingway

 

Those poignant words appear in Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa, and the green hills he was already homesick for are the Chyulu Hills, a 100-mile-long range that rises above the Amboseli Plain to altitudes of more than 7,000 feet above the faraway sea. One of Africa’s less-known gems, the hills, and the forested and river-fed plains just below, are remote (though we reach them easily and beautifully by air), rich in untroubled game, and are wonderfully friendly for hill-walkers and lovers of never-to-be-forgotten moments, like one Elspeth Huxley immortalized when she remembered: “a loping giraffe, like a tiger lily bending with dignity before a gusty breeze.”

Directly to the east, just across the invisible Kenya-Tanzania border, looms Mount Kilimanjaro, a constant presence on our safaris to the Chyulu Hills. From our luxurious camp we see the gigantic, yet lyrical peak in all its many majestical moods. And we revel in deliciously rare views—the mountain is almost always pictured from the plain—in the hills’ incredibly lush and temple-quiet montane forest. We appreciate why the mountain is so central to the lives of the local Maasai. As John Gunter once wrote “Kilimanjaro gives life. It plucks purple clouds out of the monsoon from the Indian Ocean, makes rain, and carries forests on its back. Rivers flow down its slopes, create turbulent gardens, and become lakes. It is one of the most useful mountains on earth, as well as most romantic.”

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