Aidan Hartley rss

Aiden Hartley is the Spectator’s Wild Life columnist.

The Sphinx and the Pyramid of Menkaure

The only people thriving in post-revolution Egypt — tomb raiders

9 November 2013

 Cairo Hook nose, blue chin, Arab headdress: the tomb robber resembled a villain from a Tintin comic. His friend was packing a big pistol and behind them it was sunset… Read more


Aidan Hartley: How Muslim militants and Western jihadis wrecked enchanting Somalia

19 October 2013

Wizards inland from the little Somali port of Barawe bewitched a person to come to them by banging a nail into a tree and chanting his name. ‘He comes no… Read more


How we survived terror at Nairobi's Westgate mall

28 September 2013

 Nairobi Kenya is one of those places where everybody knows everybody — and each one of us seems to have friends or relatives caught up in the Westgate shopping mall… Read more

Somali women carry weapons during a demo

Al-Qa'eda targeted Kenya not because it's a banana republic, but because it's a symbol of African success

28 September 2013

If Al-Shabaab was behind the terrorist attack in Nairobi, then the group has come a long way since its foundation in a derelict shampoo factory called Ifka Halane — ‘Clean… Read more


Aidan Hartley: I have been shot at and bombed so why do I fear a pyramid?

21 September 2013

It was towards dusk by the time we had given the tourist police the slip and started climbing the pyramid of Mycerinus at Giza. It was Sebastian Barry-Taylor and I… Read more


Killing in Kenya: Aidan Hartley tracks the last steps of an elephant

24 August 2013

  Laikipia The bull elephant had roamed our northern marches of the Laikipia plateau for decades. I always recognised him when he passed through the farm because his handsome 65-pound… Read more

The Ghosts of Happy Valley, by Juliet Barnes - review

3 August 2013
The Ghosts of Happy Valley Juliet Barnes

Aurum Press, pp.320, £16.99, ISBN: 9781781310854

Rift Valley, Kenya The other day when I told the headmaster of a top British public school that I came from Kenya, he quipped, ‘Ah, still living in Happy Valley?’… Read more

A Somali shepherd in Kenya

A binge on alcohol and meat, plus hired sex and lodging — all for £1.50

27 July 2013

 Kenya Home is beyond the perimeter of modern Kenya and way off the grid. When the ancient generator goes off in the evening we are left with a sky of… Read more

Wild life: Could I ever revive the Pinguaan Springs?

15 June 2013

Il Pinguaan Springs When I first saw the Pinguaan Springs they were small, fetid bogs set about with papyrus, the haunt of mercury-coloured frogs and dragonflies. I wondered why they… Read more

Kruger National Park

Wild life: Leopard on a hot tin roof

18 May 2013

A leopard has been on the rampage night after night. We know her because she often lurks in the woods behind the farmstead, between the beehives and the old long-drop… Read more

Kenny Kunene's Birthday Party

Life among South Africa’s nouveaux riches

11 May 2013

Not long ago Cyril Ramaphosa, probably South Africa’s future president and ANC leader, attempted to buy a buffalo. It was at an auction for hunters and game ranchers. He bid… Read more

Wild life

20 April 2013

Colobus monkeys in the forest were throat singing like Tibetan monks. Mist rose from the Kericho tea gardens above us in the gloaming. My son Rider gazed longingly at the… Read more

Wild life

23 March 2013

Rift Valley ‘We’re on the frontline,’ I said. ‘And however many guns we had, it wouldn’t be enough against the cattle rustlers.’ ‘Yes,’ replied my friend Jamie, a shareholder in… Read more

Kenyan elections, 2007

Kenya election: bullets and the economic boom

16 March 2013

The bandit opened fire at me from a distance of about six feet. He rose out of darkness and pumped three bullets into my car as I drove slowly through… Read more

Wild life

23 February 2013

Rift Valley I am training for a half-marathon on the slopes of Mount Kenya in June and I must prepare myself for failure. I may not even make it to… Read more

The original Mad Mullah: Mohammed Abdullah Hassan of Somalia

What Africa needs now

26 January 2013

Kenya: The Prime Minister has committed Britain to a struggle against the ‘existential threat’ of terrorism in Africa that he says will take ‘years, even decades’ of patience, intelligence and… Read more

Will I survive my mid-life marathon?

26 January 2013

Rift Valley ‘I’ve got a brilliant idea,’ said Jools on the phone, his voice characteristically rising like a commentator on the Grand National as Red Rum comes in for the… Read more

Wild life

15 December 2012

Gilgil, Kenya Pembroke House, our children’s school, is a little slice of England set in Kenya’s Rift Valley. In the shadow of extinct volcanoes they play cricket on extensive grounds.… Read more

Years of living dangerously

8 December 2012
Ivory, Apes and Peacocks: Animals, Adventures and Discoveries in the Wild Places of Africa Alan Root

Chatto, pp.336, £20, ISBN: 9780701186038

The son of a fish-paste factory manager in London’s East End, Alan Root fell in love with ornithology as a Blitz evacuee when he first clapped eyes on the pea-sized… Read more

Somalia New Restaurants

Cooking for freedom

24 November 2012

A few days before I met Ahmed Jama in Mogadishu, three Islamist gunmen from Al Shabaab — al-Qa’eda’s Somali branch — burst into his new restaurant wearing suicide bomb jackets.… Read more

Wild life

17 November 2012

Northern Kenya If I go out in darkness I dread neither the leopard nor the lion but I recoil from the aardvark: for me a terrifying creature. The ant bear,… Read more

Wild life

20 October 2012

Mogadishu I return to Mogadishu to find it’s calm – only a few assassinations, hit-and-run attacks, IEDs or suicide bombs — and at last most Somalis seem ready for peace.… Read more

Wild life

22 September 2012

He was under a tiny patch of shade under a tree in one of the earth’s remotest spots. At Nadapal, the Kenya–South Sudan border, you might expect to meet the… Read more

Wild life

25 August 2012

Kigali Eighteen years after Rwanda’s bloodbath I disembarked from my flight and was surprised to see that mortar craters no longer pitted the airport tarmac. At a city café where… Read more

Wild life

28 July 2012

Kenya coast A loud crash woke us in the middle of our first night at the beach house. ‘Robbers must be trying to break in,’ said Claire, kneeing me in… Read more