Why these 4 famous movies weren’t shot in Kenya

Written by | Listicles, Quick Reads

Just how bad is Kenyan corruption that Mugabe felt the need to convince his cronies not to sink to the lows of Kenya and Nigeria? That question has been lingering in our minds for a while now, driven in part by our ill-informed hubris that our corruption is not as bad as it seems at first. The truth is, its actually worse.

How bad? How about so bad that these movies featuring Kenya were not shot in Kenya presumably because of the ‘tax regime’ not run from Times Towers?

#4 Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life


Unlike the other movies on this list, Tomb Raider was actually shot in Kenya, in the scenic Hell’s Gate national Park. It features here because of the review a crew member gave of their experience during the shooting.

Hell’s Gates panoramic gorges and cliffs provided a scenic background. The National Park has been the location for other movies such as King Solomon’s Mines and the historical epic Mountains of the Moon. The crew hired members of the Pokot tribe from Loruk, a small village near Lake Baringo. They play the mysterious tribe that Lara Croft discovers in Africa.

The crew then moved to Amboseli national park to get views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kenya provided the perfect background because it was ‘beautiful and unusual.’ What was usual was the corruption, captured succinctly by Susan d’Arcy, a Paramount Pictures publicist on location with the crew who said it had increased since she had last visited Kenya during the shooting of the movie Gorrillas in the Mist, a movie about anthropologist Diane Fossey. ‘Increased’ here being the key word. Gorrillas in the Mist was produced in 1988.

#3  Inception

If nothing else, Inception will mindfuck you…and you will like it so much you will watch it a few times. At about the fifth time, you’ll get the story well enough to narrate it.

The Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa appears as the venue of a foot chase sequence. Two members of the final Inception team are recruited. Cobb is explaining the concept of extraction as an ability to a Japanese gentleman. He wakes up in Mombasa. In the background during the foot chase, you can view a man reading Taifa Leo and a signboard reading Nyoike Limited Kenya.

The sequence was shot in Africa, just not in Mombasa. It was shot in the same place where The Bourne Ultimatum movie was shot, the Old Suok (marketplace) in the city of Tangier in Morocco.

There is an insane but not implausible theory that the creatives behind Inception placed the Mombasa scene as an in joke for the conspiracy crowd. The movie was released in 2010, and was developed during the height of the birther crowd that claimed that Barrack Obama was born in Mombasa and not in the US.

#2 LXG

(Image| IMdB)

(Image| IMdB)


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LXG) is like Schwaznegger movies, the script sucks, the graphics suck even more, but there is just something that keeps you watching the entire movie. Roger Egbert, the timeless movie critic, said that LXG “…plays like a big wind came along and blew away the script and they ran down the street after it and grabbed a few pages and shot those. “

One of the extraordinary gentlemen, Alain Quatermain, played by the venerable Scot Sean Connery (I have a theory, that it was he who first pronounced Sean as Shawn, and it became a thing. No? Well then), is based in Kenya where he has retired from his former life. He is seated in club called Britannia Club. Even the closing scene takes place in Kenya where the group assembles to bury Quatermain. A witchdoctor takes some dirt from the grave after the group leaves, and begins a ritual chant. The freshly covered earth shakes and lightning hits the grave right before the screen goes black and the credits roll.

Although the two scenes are based in Kenya in the story, the movie was shot in the Czech Republic. The Britannia Club was a prop built on farmland just an hour from Prague. The basic set was then enhanced with CGI effects to give it a savannah feel.

#1 The Ghost and the Darkness


The film The Ghost and the Darkness is about the mane-less man-eating lions of the Tsavo, and the man with titanium balls who hunted and mowed them down. It is a fictionalized account, but is mostly based on the book that the badass Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson wrote about his blood chilling hunt of the two murderous lions.

As such, its story is centered in what is now called Man-Eater’s Junction, because if you are going to commemorate a tragic series of events, there is no better way but to make it sound like a cannibal cuisine restaurant. The events take place in the area where the bridge was being built, about 300 kilometers southeast of Nairobi.

Only it was all shot at the Songimvelo Game Reserve in South Africa. Many of the Maasai characters are just South African actors in costumes, although there are a few real Maasai warriors. The production team chose SA as a stand-in for Kenya ‘due to tax reasons.’ Of course they mean the other taxes, not the ones you pay to customs and other relevant government bodies, but to those who hold the offices. Such are the hidden costs of shooting movies in this great country.


 Owaahh, 2014.

One Story is good, 

Till another is told.



Last modified: February 3, 2020