Africa Vignette Series


At the end of the month we’re heading to the Maasai Mara for the annual wildebeest migration. Between now and then, here is a blizzard of little African vignettes. They are just short little bits, not in any particular order, not particularly edited. Maybe they’ll entice you to visit too one day. Hope you enjoy them. All the photos in this series are from

6 Tanzania

The Ngorongoro Crater is a result of faulting, the remnants of a volcano probably larger than Africa’s tallest peak, Kilimanjaro, created a couple or a few million years ago. At some point long ago, further rifting caused the fast withdrawal of lava from beneath the volcano, resulting in its collapse.

Today it’s the largest unbroken and unflooded volcanic caldera in the world; it is huge, with an area of 92 square miles (259 square kilometers). It’s 610 meters (2001 feet) from rim to floor and a massive 192 miles (310 kilometers) in circumference. A drive around the rim is the distance from Boston to New York. Imagine.

Just as the sun sets and colors instantly fade, the road crawls around the edge of the escarpment, and Lake Manyara spreads before us. Then, over the north side of the hill, we bear down in a dive for the crater rim.

All of the lodges sit along the rim – none on the floor. There are five: the one where we’ll stay and three others, which host visitors from various tour operators, and one private lodge for Abercrombie and Kent safaris. I’ll take the opportunity to perpetuate a good story, even though I can’t say for sure if it’s true:

When Geoffrey Kent and his parents founded their tour company in Kenya in 1962 they knew Kent Tours lacked that certain magic. But Abercrombie, now, there’s a name that speaks of aristocracy, so Mr. Kent’s tour company became Abercrombie and Kent. They say there never was an Abercrombie.

This entire series of vignettes will reside here, in the Africa section. If you enjoy them please have a look at my two travel books, Common Sense and Whiskey and Visiting Chernobyl.

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