4 movies shot in Kenya

Kenya might not be the first country you think of when it comes to famous films, but you’d be surprised how often directors have turned to this east African country to get the perfect setting for their films. The country has a wide variety of settings for knowledgeable directors to take advantage of: from sprawling metropolises like Nairobi and quaint coastal towns like Mombasa, to massive nature reserves with all manner of natural features.

In this article, we’ll go over four of such movies that were shot in Kenya, and provide some tips on how to get to Kenya if you’re interested in visiting these places (or just Kenya in general).

Cry Freedom – Starring Denzel Washington
Cry Freedom tells the story of Steve Biko, a black activist during apartheid South Africa. While most of the movie is actually shot in Zimbabwe in southern Africa, a number of scenes are shot in the Kenyan port town of Mombasa. Mombasa sometimes feels like a town lost in time, and as such it made for the perfect setting for this biography.

Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life – Starring Angelina Jolie
By now, the Tomb Raider series, originally a videogame series, spans multiple movies, with Angelina Jolie portraying lead character Lara Croft. The Cradle of Life specifically is shot in Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National Park, a sprawling nature reserve filled with cliffs and caves. It’s therefore no surprise this area was chosen to film the movie.

Out of Africa – Starring Meryl Streep
The highest grossing film in this list, Out of Africa, based on the novel of the same name, grossed $227.5 million worldwide. It also won seven Academy Awards. The film tells the story of Karen Blixen, who reminisces about her life in Kenya. Much of the film is shot in and around Nairobi, such as the Ngong Hills.

Inception (kind of): Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
In theory, Inception made far more than Out of Africa, grossing over $800 million worldwide. And the movie does claim to have parts set in Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa. However, it isn’t actually Mombasa they are filming in, but Tangier, a city in northwestern Morocco. As such, Out of Africa is still the highest grossing movie set in Kenya, but Inception does deserve an honourable mention.

Travel to Kenya – visa application
If you fancy a trip to Kenya to experience why it’s so beloved by famous directors, you’re in luck, because getting the right paperwork sorted out for Kenya is very easy. To travel to Kenya, a visa is mandatory. Since 2021, the Kenya visa can only be acquired online, so don’t expect to be able to receive a visa on arrival at the airport. In fact, they won’t let you board the plane without an approved visa. So apply for it online, preferably a week or more before departure. After making the payment and uploading the required documents (photograph, passport scan and hotel booking), you’ll receive the approved visa via e-mail. All that’s left is to print it and keep it with your hand luggage.

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.

Email Adam@MarkMeets.com

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