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

15 Tanzania

The Ngorongoro microclimate is remarkable. Dust devils kick up on the other side of the plain. They’re mini-tornados of swirling sand and dust, evoking the desert. At the same time, thunder crackles across the crater and a storm looms up on the rim, even as we’re topping off our sunburns down on the crater floor.

We’re about to turn and begin the climb up to the rim when Mirja spots something way in the distance, off toward the west, over around the pond. This usually means a rhino, zebra, wildebeest or lion, since these are the animals big enough to appear as little dots across the plain. But this is different, curiously shaped. It’s taller than the pack animals. But there are no giraffes in Ngorongoro.

Godfrey grabs the binoculars and all at once all three of us gasp, “It’s a man!”

Two other jeeps make the same discovery and all three of us hustle over to save this fool daredevil. Lions, even hyenas could’ve attacked, but he makes it to the first arriving jeep. Turns out his jeep was stuck and, getting on in the afternoon as it was, he was afraid his passengers would have to spend the night there if no one else happened by, so he decided to chance it.

There’s a lot of relieved joking and laughter. He points to the tiny distant speck that is his jeep. Must’ve walked a couple of kilometers barehanded through lions in the grass.

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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