I’m in the Nairobi suburb of Karen (again), this time at the Karen Blixen Museum, I had initially planned to combine this visit with the trip to the Oloolua nature trail but things did not work out as planned.

Danish author Karen Blixen is best known for penning the book Out of Africa, lived in this house on the outskirts of Nairobi that has now been turned into a museum in her honor. The bungalow-style house was built in 1912 by the Swedish engineer Åke Sjögren and bought by Karen Blixen and her then-husband, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke in 1917, it became a farm house for their 4500 acre farm, of which 600 acres was used for coffee farming. Their marriage failed after eight years and in 1921 the Baron moved on and left the running of the farm to Karen. Karen lived at the house until her return to Denmark in 1931. The house farm was bought by Remy Marin, who broke the land into 20 acre parcels for development. Subsequent development created the present suburb of Karen.

Karen Blixen Museum_Sign

 

I was pleasantly surprised when I got there, they offer free guided tours and the guides are very knowledgeable. This was a pleasant change from having to pay the guide.

Karen Blixen Museum_Driveway

 

Karen Blixen Museum_MapA map of the original layout of the property

 

The house features rooms designed in both the original decor and with props from the 1985 film. Fun fact, the house was not used in the filming of Out of Africa, a movie based on Karen’s memoir by the same name. At the time of filming it was being used by the government as a health facility so filming took place in a house that previously belonged to the widow of Jomo Kenyatta, the first Prime Minister and President of Kenya.

Karen Blixen Museum_Front of house

Originally owned by the Danish government, the house was donated to Kenya to celebrate the country’s independence. The government then renovated the house in an attempt to preserve it the way it was when Blixen lived there.

Karen Blixen Museum_KarenKaren with a dog that she got from her husband Baron Bror Blixen as a wedding gift

 

The museum does not allow photography inside the premises but rules are made to be broken, no? Once my guide was gone, I went back to the premises and again my Samsung K Zoom camera phone came in handy and was able to take some quick snaps of the rooms (I happened to be the only one inside, perks of visiting on a weekday). There was a large group of tourists outside so I had to rush while watching over my back and listening for anyone coming into the house.

Karen Blixen Museum_Baron Blixen's Study_adjBaron Blixen’s study. The bookcase contains copies of the book Out of Africa which has been translated into various langiages.

 

Karen Blixen Museum_SafeThe Baron Blixen’s study; if my memory serves me right the free standing safe is part of the original décor.

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Dining roomOn the side of the French doors opening to a small patio with views of the Ngong Hills you can see reproductions of Karen’s paintings.

.

Karen Blixen Museum_Record player

 

The dining room; It is here that Karen Blixen twice entertained the Prince of Wales. The table has been set with beautiful cutlery.

Karen Blixen Museum_Dining Room1

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Backyard1

 

The lawn; Karen used to sit here in the evenings as it offers a splendid view of the Ngong Hills

Karen Blixen Museum_Lawn

 

Karen used to entertain guests in the library and in top left corner you can spot two lamps which according to the guide she used to indicate her mood. When she lit the red lamp it meant that she did not want to be disturbed while the green meant she was in a good mood and was willing to entertain.

Karen Blixen Museum_Karen's study

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Typewriter

 

Karen and her husband used to sleep in separate bedrooms. There is a door linking the bedrooms.

Karen Blixen Museum_Baron Blixen's bedroom1To the left you can see a portrait of Karen’s lover Denys Finch Hatton.

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Baron BlixenBaron Blixen

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Baron Blixen's bedroom

 

Karen’s bedroom offers a lovely view of the front lawn. Karen Blixen Museum_Karen's bedroom

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Karen's bedroom1

.

The dressing table might be part of the original furniture; I seem to recall the guide mentioning something along those lines.Karen Blixen Museum_Karen's bedroom

.

Their bathroom facilities were pretty basic. The toilet consisted of a wooden box over a bucket that the servants used to empty when it got full.

Karen Blixen Museum_Bathroom

 

Unfortunately I was not able to get any photos of the kitchen. The kitchen is situated outside the house and is directly opposite the ticketing area – too risky to take photos.

Karen Blixen Museum_Walkway

 

The museum is located in a beautiful and serene envrironment and is a lovely location to hold an outdoor wedding.

Karen Blixen Museum_Lawn1

You can spot the Ngong Hills in the background. Karen’s lover Denys Finch Hatton was buried at the foot of the hills in accordance to his wishes.

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Flower

 

You will also be able to see old equipment that used to be used on the coffee farm

Karen Blixen Museum_Farm equipment

 

Karen Blixen Museum_Farm equipment1

 

The prices are quite reasonable

Karen Blixen Museum_TicketCitizen:  Adults -Kshs 200 ($2) Kids below 16yrs -Kshs 100 ($1)

 

CHARGES (OTHERS)

Residents: Adults- Kshs 600 ($6) Kids below 16yrs- Kshs 400 ($4)

Non Residents:  Adults – Kshs 1,200 ($13) Kids below 16yrs -Kshs 600 ($6)

How to get there:

Karen Blixen Museum is situated 20km from the city centre in the Karen suburb. If using public means, take matatu or bus number 24 heading towards Karen Hardy from the city centre, and alight at Karen Blixen Museum which is near the junction of Bogani Road and Karen Road.

If driving, take Uhuru Highway till Nyayo Stadium, then turn right onto Langata Road and drive past Bomas of Kenya till the junction to Hardy. Turn left onto Langata South Road, then right onto Bogani Road. The museum will be right before the junction between Bogani and Karen Road.

 

This week I’ll be linking up with;

1. Frank About Croatia in #SundayTraveler

2. Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Mondays

Previous post
Koobi Fora Museum & Elephant Fossil site
Next post
Safaricom Marathon – running wild for the wild

21 Comments

  1. July 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm — Reply

    Nice photos. The property looks like it hasn’t been touched since filming! Happy TPMonday 🙂
    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer recently posted…Stunning Street Art in Pilsen, ChicagoMy Profile

  2. July 7, 2014 at 7:46 pm — Reply

    You rebel, you! Lol – glad you were able to sneak and get these pics. Interesting that she and her husband slept in separate beds – I guess that’s why she had a lover? In any case, her home was lovely.

    • July 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm — Reply

      I just had to take pictures, I could not bear not to. The guide said that sleeping i separate rooms was the custom at the time

  3. July 8, 2014 at 1:47 am — Reply

    Whoa, that rug at the foot of her bed! I don’t think I want to be waking up every morning to the sight of a lion.
    Adelina | PackMeTo recently posted…Celebrating Canada Day in VancouverMy Profile

  4. Manesha
    July 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm — Reply

    I actually had my wedding there but I have actually never entered the museum. Thanks for the virtual tour. Who thought that lady owned the whole of Karen? I am actually surprised that the place belonged to the Danish government. How is that?

  5. July 9, 2014 at 11:06 am — Reply

    The outside of museum is so charming, these flowers and trees – wow! I like the inside a lot too. It’s quite mysterious and so old…
    Agness recently posted…Getting A Buddha Belly In Taiwan: 5 Dishes Vegetarians Will LoveMy Profile

  6. July 9, 2014 at 5:52 pm — Reply

    Really wish I had gotten to see this when I stayed in Karen last fall – thanks for making that happen! Your photo-taking risks are much appreciated by your readers. One thing I will never forget about Karen is the lush surroundings. Such a beautiful spot close to the center.
    Dave Cole recently posted…Monday Morning Photo – Religious Azulejo in Setubal, PortugalMy Profile

    • July 14, 2014 at 8:38 pm — Reply

      You’re welcome Dave. I’m glad that my efforts are appreciated.

  7. July 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    It’s a really lovely house!
    ladyfi recently posted…Garden delightsMy Profile

  8. July 10, 2014 at 6:53 am — Reply

    Oh Rachel, you KNOW what a huge fan I am of all your posts, stories, travels and of course a fan of YOU the person! This may be my favorite post to date of your’s that I have read. I’m A HUGE, HUGE FAN of Out of Africa – the book and the movie! I sooooo wish I could be transported right this second to there to see all of this!! And of course I loved that picture of Karen with the dog! Ya know, when the day comes that I begin my travel overseas I might be tugging on your arm to see if I can’t tag along for a few of your adventures!! We hope you are doing wonderful, our friend! 🙂
    Mike recently posted…Lunch At The Stone House Cafe Reno, NevadaMy Profile

    • July 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm — Reply

      Thank you! 🙂 When you do come to visit I would be glad to have you tag along on my adventures.

  9. July 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm — Reply

    I haven’t read the book or watched the movie (not proud!), but now you got me interested. It’s great that developers at least preserved the house of Karen Blixen. The house and its surrounding is gorgeous. Love the wood work inside the house, especially the furniture.
    frankaboutcroatia recently posted…A walk through blue and green IstriaMy Profile

    • July 14, 2014 at 8:44 pm — Reply

      I’d say read the book before you watch the movie.

  10. July 11, 2014 at 3:07 pm — Reply

    How fabulous – I have always wanted to visit the Karen Blixen Museum (LOVED Out of Africa as a teenager), her story is so fascinating. Really awesome post – gives such a great impression of what it is like to visit – thanks!!
    Natasha von Geldern recently posted…England: Wandering the Yorkshire 3 PeaksMy Profile

    • July 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm — Reply

      Her life was definitely fascinating. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  11. July 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm — Reply

    Rachel, What a beautiful house; I could live there! I loved Out of Africa, and I think that they picked the right actress now that I see her photo!
    Corinne recently posted…Weekend Travel Inspiration – The DestinationMy Profile

  12. July 13, 2014 at 7:57 am — Reply

    I haven’t read the book or watched the movie, but I remember how all the movie advertising portrayed Africa as very romantic. Looking at your photos, I am struck by how very European all the furnishings are. It reminds me of the heritage homes of British expats who lived in Penang, Malaysia while it was still a British colony before World War II. It looks like a lovely venue for a wedding.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…I’m a Cover Model!My Profile

    • July 14, 2014 at 8:47 pm — Reply

      Most of her furniture was actually from Europe,she had very few pieces made in Kenya. I think I remember the guide pointing out one piece, I think it was a bookcase or something.

  13. Helen Cordell
    October 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm — Reply

    Rachael, So glad I stumbled across your blog and get to see your recently taken photos. You did an excellent job taking them. I think I might have been tempted to tell the museum staff that allowing photos to be taken inside might prompt more curiosity in people coming to visit. Of course, this would have been said “after” you took the photos! I truly love them as I may forever have to be content with being “a mental traveler” as Karen Blixen stated in the movie. Many, many thanks!

    By the way, anyone who might read this and hasn’t seen the movie…you MUST see it before you die!

  14. February 24, 2015 at 10:53 pm — Reply

    This is such a lovely post. The beautiful photos made me feel I was there with you. You really did a splendid job here, so much so that I am visiting it this coming saturday with my friends after which i will document it on my blog. One question though, don’t they prohibit taking photos inside the house?
    Crispus recently posted…TO CATCH A DREAM BY THE NEST COLLECTIVE.My Profile

    • March 3, 2015 at 8:47 pm — Reply

      Yes they do Chrispus. I was being sneaky..

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge