The snowy white flat cap of Mount Kilimanjaro looms over the ‘home of the African elephant’ Amboseli National Park, with its dried-up lake, vast wetlands, shady woodlands, grassy savannah, and pungent sulphur springs.

It is Africa in a nutshell: huge elephants lazily amble across a landscape shared with buffalo, cheetah and giraffe; herds of zebra, elegant impala and wildebeest gather at watering holes spied on by spotted hyena, lions and crocodile.

For bird lovers, this is paradise – there are more than 600 species.

And for the handful of members of the Maasai Loyal Hearts Supporters’ Club, who tune into games beamed from Tynecastle, it is a little corner of Gorgie Road, as far removed the weekend’s derby match against their old rivals as can be imagined.

Yet the result of Sunday’s Hearts-Hibs clash is of as much significance in this particular corner of Kenya, as it is in Edinburgh – as are, indeed, many of Scotland’s football clashes.

Elewana Tortilis Camp, named after the flat-topped umbrella thorn tree, the Acacia Tortilis, and set within a lush area of woodland, is ground zero for perhaps the more unlikely of Hearts’ supporters’ clubs.

Since arriving to run one of the Kenya’s luxury holiday lodge resorts almost by chance and following a middle-age ‘now or never’ moment fuelled by a global financial crisis, Graeme Forbes-Smith has passed on his enthusiasm for his beloved Hearts to the locals.

“The Maasai here all follow the Hearts’ games – I call it the Maasai Loyal Hearts Supporters Club,” he says. “I’ve got Hearts TV International, and I’ll be watching the game on Sunday.

“If Hearts lose, they will find my wife, Candy, and tell her ‘don’t speak to Graeme tonight, he’ll be in a bad mood’.”

Even when Hearts aren’t playing, locals press the Scot for match predictions: “Online gambling has even reached Kenya and sometimes the Lodge staff come up and ask me ‘do you think Falkirk will beat Raith Rovers?’,” he laughs. “I think to myself ‘what?!’.”

As manager of Tortilis Camp, which sits a private conservancy on the fringe of the national park, Graeme has greeted the likes of singer Rita Ora to chimpanzee expert Dame Jane Goodall, Saudi princes and foreign presidents, Hollywood actors and British society.

Life is good, he says, but it is also far from where the thought he’d end up, as the aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis bit and his plans of early retirement disintegrated.

Faced with a choice of staying put in Scotland, taking a new job in Dubai, or taking time out, the couple upped sticks to pursue an African dream that evolved into a rollercoaster of emotions and adventures, that’s seen them embrace the local culture and become respected members of the Maasai community.

Their inspirational and often moving story of leaving Musselburgh near Edinburgh for an unexpected African adventure is now told by Graeme in a new book, Don’t Shake the Mango Tree, completed as the world ground to a halt during lockdown and now topping Amazon’s Africa books ‘hot new releases’.

Part personal story, part travelogue and peppered with tales of Maasai culture, larger than life characters – from witch doctors to bar-room brawlers and kind-hearted strangers – it is a love letter to a way of life and country that was never supposed to become their home.

Graeme was 50 and heading a business specialising in refurbishing offices and hotels when the 2008 financial crisis hit. As work dried up, his thoughts of an early retirement started to fade and the couple – like many who hit that time of life - found themselves at a crossroads.

“Our two sons both had finished university and were working abroad as teachers, one in Shanghai and the other in South Korea,” recalls Graeme. “Candy’s parents had died, my dad had died.

“We’d had our sons when we were young and had always travelled with them – when they were 15 months and three years old we all went on safari to Kenya.

“I thought perhaps we could take six months out, and go back.”

The couple left their comfortable life in East Lothian for Tanzania to hook up with a fellow Scot, Gordon King, and to relax in a rented cottage on a near deserted beach.

Barely three months into their stay, however, their idyllic break was shattered with Gordon’s sudden death.

It sparked a bizarre episode that saw Graeme, still grappling with Tanzanian language, culture, and a far simpler health system, transporting his friend’s lifeless body by car from home to hospital and morgue, digging his grave in the red soil on land surrounded by coconut palms and mango trees, and saying their farewells serenaded by a haunting African hymns.

With the gentle the words of a local fisherman ringing in his ears – ‘Life’, he tells him, ‘is like the mango tree. When each fruit becomes ripe, in its time, it falls from the tree. Just like us’ – the couple fall head over heels in love with the country and its people.

With the offer of a job managing a luxury safari lodge on the table, they resolve to stay.

“Gordon’s death was a defining moment,” says Graeme, who recalled the fisherman’s words in the title of his book. “It was traumatic, but we couldn’t believe the support we had from everyone in the community.

“They gave permission for him to be buried in the local church graveyard and helped us with the coffin. It was a crazy time and it changed our outlook on life.”

There followed a whirlwind of adventures involving running luxurious lodges in Tanzania and then Kenya, eccentric encounters with locals and wildlife, surviving bouts of malaria, scorpion stings and snakes.

There are also countless life-affirming, bittersweet moments such as the Danish visitor who, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, arrived at the camp, telling the couple: “I want to swim one last time in the Indian Ocean, to see the red soils of Africa and to hear the cries of the fish eagle. I do not want to spend my last days staring at the bland grey walls of a hospice in Copenhagen.”

And while there are pesky spider bites that threaten scepticaemia requiring a terrifying dash flight in a tiny Cessna 206 with red lights blinking and highly dubious pilot, there are also charming encounters with kind locals anxious to share what little they have, breath-taking sunsets and the daily sight of Mount Kilimanjaro rising in the distance.

“We feel very humble to be here,” says Graeme. “We are a community lodge - 60% of the staff are from the local community and we look after them.

“If a lady is giving birth in a Maasai village at 4am and something goes wrong, we will send a car to take them to hospital four hours away.

“Sometimes things do go wrong. Once, one of the worker’s wives died and a couple of hours later he appeared at our door with gifts because he appreciated us trying to help. It is incredibly humbling.”

Life can be hard for the local Maasai community and sometimes frighteningly short.

“But the Maasai have this acceptance, they say ‘Maisha – it’s life’,” he adds.

In return, the couple have poured effort and their own funds into building a children’s playground at local school close to Tortilis Camp and helped pay for solar power for the school library.

“Being here has change my outlook on life. It has made us nicer people, calmer and more helpful,” adds Graeme.

“We realise that in the west we are always looking to get more and more, but here we are surrounded by people who have nothing.

“It makes you want to help them.”

Don’t Shake the Mango Tree – Tales of a Scottish Maasai by Graeme Forbes-Smith is published by Olympia Publishers, £9.99.