Follow Anna on Amazon

The Guardian - Pictures of Africa

Inspiration Images for The Guardian


Dear Reader,

I’m not a great photographer, but I had a blast pretending during my travels to Africa. As you know, I was inspired to write The Guardian when I traveled to Tanzania on holiday. It wasn’t supposed to be a writing and research trip, but the Serengeti is such a stunning setting! I simply could not resist.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that such an transforming journey would spawn an epic love story in my mind. But the truth is that the protagonists of The Guardian, Matthias Hawking and Jade Romo, took me by surprise. I loved writing these characters, who were very much like me, guests in Africa. Their story captured my imagination.

You will find millions of amazing, iconic images of Africa, Tanzania, the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater, Oldavai Gorge, Zanzibar, and the many other extraordinary places I had the great privilege of visiting. My pictures are not among the best, but they are meaningful to me and to the story I tell in The Guardian. In fact, if you’ve already read the novel, you are very like to recognize some of these images as inspirations for certain scenes.

So thanks for coming along in this journey and enjoy!


My first glimpse of giraffes in the wild seemed like a mirage.

In Jade’s words:

“We’re in luck.” The pilot shot his million-dollar grin in my direction. “Beneath us you’ll see your welcoming committee, a big ass giraffe of the Maasai variety, as indicated by its distinctive starred blotches.”

Fan-freaking-tastic. A huge smile hijacked my lips. Click, click, click. This was why I’d come to Africa, to see these animals in their natural environments, to share my wonder with the world, and to help protect the last few places on earth where the wild still roamed.

I was absolutey blown away by how well gyraffes blend with their environment. Can you find the gyraffes in this picture?

The roads that Matthias drove everyday in The Guardian

The trucks featured in The Guardian.

In Matthias’s words:

The giraffes were spectacular animals, tall, majestic, and elegant as they strolled across the road. We had a lot of giraffes in the reserve, and yet I never got tired of watching them. Jade whipped out her camera. After uncapping the lens and adjusting the focus, she started to shoot. Oblivious to the trucks, the animals glided across the road and headed west, paralleling our route.

As soon as the herd crossed, I shifted into gear and stepped on the gas, negotiating the craters that puckered the dirt road. The late afternoon light conditions turned from good to ideal. Jade shot lots of pictures, tracking a particularly tall individual through her camera lens, a male, judging by his size, his median lump, and his bold, bony antlers.

“My God.” She hid a huge grin behind her camera. “That’s a phenomenal specimen, the Tatum Channing of the giraffe world.”

I almost burst out laughing. It was one thing to see these animals in a zoo, surrounded by people and fences. But seeing and photographing them in their environments, interacting with their peers, and free? Phenomenal.

Inspiration images for Jade’s bungalow. Of course, Jade’s quarters were not this nice!

Some favorite pictures of African wildlife


The lioness on the hunt. I named her…Jade.

Alert and majestic, this lion was the king of this kopje. I named him…yeah, you guessed it…Matthias.

This is what lions do most of the day. He was the leader of what we called the Lazy Pride.

Family of cheetahs hunting

This leopard sighting was an awesome treat. He woke up from his nap and went out hunting as we watched.

Thomson’s Gazelles, also referred to as Tommies, “The Serengeti’s national crop.”

Zebras were everywhere!

Guests at our lodge gave this old, stubborn buffalo plenty of room when he came every afternoon to drink from the pool.

In Matthias words:

I stepped on my brakes and eased my way around the tail end of an African buffalo herd, wandering in the night. They were a bunch of big suckers, each male around fourteen hundred pounds of raw muscle, eyes glittering green under my beams as they stared down my Land Rover. Widow makers, the locals called them, hoofed brutes that’d been known to gore both people and lions with their massive horns.

I liked buffalos. They were thick skulled and stubborn, a lot like me. They weren’t Africa’s flashiest celebrities, but they were fierce fighters and sturdy survivors that stood up to claws and fangs, not only for themselves but most impressively, for the sake of the herd. Yeah, I dug the beasts. They reminded me of the teams. Hell, I missed the teams.

Recognize these fine fellows?

In Jade’s words:

A week later, I sat on my deck, repairing my broken body camera harness with carefully placed strips cut to size from the duct tape I always carried with me. I worked under the supervision of my closest neighbors, the troop of black and white colobus monkeys that had taken up stadium seating in the trees around me and seemed to find my actions fascinating. As far as I could tell, I was their newest form of entertainment, Jade Nat Geo, for monkeys.

Baboons, the neighborhood’s thugs.

These ostriches were engaged in a mating ritual, something that Jade photographs in The Guardian.

Wildebeests of the Ngorongoro.

Hyena on the prowl.

This hippo came close, trying to check us out.

A standoff between a fierce hippo and the Lazy Pride.

A little hippo and his mommy.

The mighty lion

We were so lucky to witness the birth of this little Thomson’s Gazelle! Only a few moments after the birth, it was ready to run.

The Ngorongoro Crater felt like the Garden of Eden to me.

In Matthias’s words:

“That’s nature for you,” Matthias said. “Those animals down there have simple purposes. To survive the first few minutes after their birth. To stand on shaky hoofs. To nurse. To thrive. To stay alive another day and pass on their genes. That’s life in the Serengeti. There’s no higher purpose than to survive for the sheer drive to exist. What you see? Life on steroids.”

More giraffes!

In Jade’s words:

Beyond the screened glass doors and the deck that comprised the whole back side of my rustic retreat, I spotted movement. A Nile crocodile swam in the river, a true, honest-to-God fifteen footer, eyeing my humble abode. I grinned. I was in Africa and I was watching this magnificent specimen from the comfort of a proper toilet. Out-freaking-standing.

Hyena taking a siesta in a kopje.

If you’ve read The Guardian, you know how I feel about the amazing elephants.

In Jade’s words:

We tracked them along a trampled path of bark-stripped acacias that reminded me that elephants were a lot like humans. They transformed their environment as they went.

In my mind, this was Bibi and her herd.

In Jade’s words:

I opened my eyes slowly. The elephant was still there, standing just a few feet from me, silent and immobile. Her little eyes scoured me thoroughly, the way women often do when another female arrives on the scene, shoes, dress, purse, hair. It was unreal, but the elephant totally checked me out.

Her stare touched something inside of me. With a swipe and a stomp, she could’ve trampled me. In two steps, she could’ve easily pinned me to the ground with her head and made a mash of my internal organs. But she didn’t do any of that. She just stared at me like an old woman, teaching me with her restraint that I was in the presence of wisdom.

Watching this matriarch taking care of her herd, I too understood that we were in the presence of wisdom.

Dawn over the Serengeti. Inspiration image for a certain happy occasion at the end of the novel. 😊

Some of the Amazing people we met:

A Massai boma or family compound.

Massai women welcoming us to their boma.

Massai welcoming us to their boma.

Massai Market.

An artist from the famous Macondo tribe.

Inspiration Images from Zanzibar

A certain balcony that inspired a certain scene

Sunset in the Serengeti