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July 21, 2022

Amazing Photographs of Ernest Hemingway in Africa, 1953

Few western figures are as associated with East Africa as Ernest Hemingway, even though he only took two trips to the continent in his life. Perhaps this is because the writer of A Farewell to Arms (1929) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952) helped codify the image of the Great White Hunter, even if he wasn’t a great hunter himself. Perhaps it’s simply that Ernest Hemingway has become something of a mythical figure of 20th-Century manhood since his death in 1961. Regardless of the reason why Hemingway’s adventures in Africa continue to loom largely in the popular imagination, it’s hard to avoid mentions of Hemingway when visiting Africa as a westerner.

In the summer of 1933, Hemingway, Pauline, and a Key West friend traveled to Africa for a three-month safari. Inspired by the legendary hunts of Theodore Roosevelt, Hemingway borrowed funds from Pauline’s uncle, and the couple set off for what would become a productive and iconic journey.

The three months spent on safari offered Hemingway ample time to hunt and enjoy the outdoors. Despite succumbing to a severe illness on the trip that necessitated a hospital recovery, Hemingway’s trophies included a lion and other large game that roamed the African grasslands. Traveling through Kenya and Tanzania, Hemingway hunted the plains of the Serengeti, tracked animals through the bush, and recorded his experiences for later use in his work. His first African safari provided Hemingway with material and inspiration for the novel Green Hills of Africa, and the short stories The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

Hemingway returned to the Dark Continent twenty years later with his fourth wife. They traveled through the Belgian Congo, Rwanda, and Kenya. Once again, Hemingway exercised his skill as a hunter, and brought home many big game trophies. Hemingway’s persona as a fearless adventurer only increased when he suffered through two plane crashes on his second trip to Africa, prompting many news outlets to prematurely run his obituary.

The image of Hemingway as a great hunter and outdoorsman was only solidified through his trips to Africa. The trophies that he brought back from the hunts adorned his homes, and his writings about his travels helped to establish Hemingway’s reputation as one of the great hunters of his day.


  1. Times change. These photos strike me as horrifying.

    1. I totally agree. Also, although a great writer he wasn't the most pleasant person.

  2. Nobody cares what "Karens" think.

  3. I hardly think that finding big game hunting to be repugnant makes you a Karen.




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