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

7 Namibia

Late in the afternoon our pilot, a very young girl with blond hair and blazing blue eyes, took three of us up in a Cessna for a trip out over the dunes. She explained that at the coast (55 kilometers away), sometimes they run safaris on the beach, so if we saw any cars we had to let her know immediately!

That was curious. Why?

They could spoil our fun, she grinned. We were required to fly at 3000 feet, but out there she said she would drop us illegally to 500.

Where in the world can you flaunt rules like this if not on the desolate coast of bloody Namibia!? And so we did.

We retraced the morning’s route from the airstrip across the road from our lodge, into the park and down along the tar road.

They’ve numbered the dunes, 1 to 70 or 80, and we did a pinwheel around Dune 45, somehow an icon. Bernard had stopped for us to see it, too, driving us in the morning, and indeed, folks had been already there and climbing it.

Before sundown, though, dune 45, and all of the dunes, stood deserted. Everyone had to be out of the park at night.

We did a long turn around “Big Daddy,” which they repute to be the world’s tallest sand dune, and in the same sweep took in the dead vlei and Sossusvlei, and the dune we’d climbed in the morning. They call that one “Big Mama.”

The road ends here and beyond, nothing but dunes, horizon to horizon, and no place for engine trouble.

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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