Back road through farms near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The wideangle lens makes the road appear in worse condition than it was – and, in any case, it was dry weather; tackling this in wet conditions would be something else again.

The VW Beetle was wonderful for this sort of thing.  No 4×4, just drive in the two rear wheels, the engine seated over the wheels – which made for very good grip –  and a large metal plate underneath most of the length of the car, to guard against rocks and boulders.

But the car took quite a hammering on this trip and, as I pulled out at the end of my stay for the long drive back to Nairobi, my front wheels had, unbeknown to me, taken such a pounding that they were facing outwards, i.e. away from each other.

This very soon wore both tyres completely bald and, when I came upon a police road block, I had a hard job persuading them to let me through.  Luckily there was an excellent garage specialising in VW repairs in Nairobi, and however badly I damaged the car, they were always able to fix it.

Another thing about this picture is that it was taken in a very fertile, agricultural landscape teeming with people.  I’ve only just stopped for a photo, and already there’s a young lad standing by the car.  If we were really to get stuck or break down, there were always plenty of willing hands to help push and pull us on our way.  They were friendly – and distinctly humorous – people.  Less friendly was the malaria, which initially got its teeth into me during this safari.

OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red preset.


About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. bluebrightly says:

    I love the perspective. Isn’t it wonderful to have these old photos!


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Glad you like it, my friend. Yes, photos from the past are wonderful – in particular I have some albums filled with past friends and acquaintances, and some events too, and I wish I’d done more of that sort of often very informal photography. A


  2. great shot but makes me shudder- what a road!! Lovely adventure!!


  3. Ohhhhhh how I love the shot. The way it sits back in the photo, tilted and posing so nicely. The conversion is perfect and I just adore that bug. I saw one just like it up the street from us recently. I asked Jeff if we could buy it but… There it still sits, For Sale. Ugh!
    LOVE THIS!!!!


  4. paula graham says:

    Wow, what an adventure that was, superb VW..!! Well done you!


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I miss those days, tho I am far less brave (or should that be, unthinking?) to do such things now. And I had a baptism of fire as regards off-road driving – a few weeks after passing my UK driving test, I was driving Land Rovers in the Oman mountains.


  5. Sallyann says:

    Your beetle appears to have been a lot more friendly than the other bugs in Kenya. 🙂


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