Ngami Pandemic

Ngami Pandemic

Shortly after crossing the parched deserts of what is now southern Namibia the explorer Charles John Andersson collapsed onto the embankment of the Hountop stream that ultimately led into the mighty Orange River. Dangerously relieved he almost fell asleep rather than drink some life-saving water. He had “made it through,” according to his book, Lake Ngami.

“But I was soon destined to experience a greater calamity… I was seized by a violent shivering fit which lasted three hours, then came the fever, of almost as long duration, accompanied by racking headache and profuse perspiration.”

These are classic symptoms of malaria. It was April just after the rains when malaria is most severe. But this was long before malaria was known and Andersson was convinced it was a pandemic.
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Klassy Kruger

Klassy Kruger

Kruger National Park in South Africa remains the best managed large wilderness on earth. (Yellowstone is close but suffers from too little regulation because consumer demand is so high and ranchers so powerful.) But “best managed” does not mean most “spectacular” or “awe-inspiring” and definitely not “wildest.” Those attributes belong absolutely to the Serengeti.

And it’s the reason the Serengeti is so much more threatened than Kruger. The wildness of the Serengeti just doesn’t fit in with modern life.

Poorly managed and under-resourced kids are still being trampled by elephants, farmers are victimized by diseases like hoof-and-mouth and yellow fever that run rampant in a truly wild environment, and necessary dams and structured catchments essential for agriculture can’t be implemented without random destruction to the wild.
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Dream Away

Dream Away

I was 15 years old, wasting the last bits of summer wandering with my dog alone in the forests behind my house and the prairies behind the forests returning late for cold dinners.

“I have a dream,” Martin Luther King said as I was wandering on August 28, 1963, at the opening of the “March on Washington” in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

I always got home in time for Walter Cronkite at 6 p.m. Walter had just started with the “March on Washington” when my local Memphis affiliate cut out of the newscast to run a car dealership ad three times in a row before shifting early to local weather!
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Covid Rant

Covid Rant

Travelers’ frustrations are growing. … What a stupidly simplistic statement: everybody’s frustrations are growing. But I’m talking about travel and I’m about to scold you if you travel.

Travelers are venting their anger on us, their suppliers. They want to know why they can’t get their money back for trips that the virus scuttled. This is my answer.
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Divy Up

Divy Up

Minutes after Biden’s speech ended the media of sub-Sahara Africa fired up. No matter they were all ending their day: “Biden tears into Trump,” Nigeria’s Independent online newspaper proclaimed. South Africa’s Business Insider focused on Barak Obama’s praise of the speech.

“Democracy is at a greater risk,” Business Insider concluded.

You have to go outside America to see what the speech means. No matter how historical or consequential the speech may be for Democrats and progressives, it doesn’t exist for Trumpians.
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Desmond Delivered

Desmond Delivered

There’s an intersection in the middle of Nairobi city which we used to call the Square of Churches years ago. There’s only one church there, the city’s main Catholic Cathedral, Holy Family Minor Basilica, and it’s a roundabout so I have no idea how the moniker developed.

Kitty-corner from the Basilica is Jomo Kenyatta’s Mausoleum. Between the two on the north end is the Intercontinental Hotel, and kitty-corner from that, City Park. If the new highway didn’t obscure my nostalgic memories I’d suggest that the name of the place be changed to the Desmond Tutu Plaza.
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Les Fisher

Les Fisher

Les Fisher has died. He was 100 years old, the former director of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Les was a very special friend and a very important mentor. My businesses matured in a dog-eat-dog world of the 1970s and 1980s. With sadness I have to honestly say that many zoo directors back then and many of their hand-picked volunteers organizing the group travel were horribly corrupt. I know. I pulled out wads of cash to get their business.

Les made me realize that wasn’t the standard. Worse than my world, he worked in the world of very corrupt Chicago politics. He didn’t change. Chicago politics changed because of people like him.

Les and I traveled together to Africa almost 30 times. We were among the first to see the mountain gorillas. We remain among a handful at most of travelers to explore Kivu Province in The Congo.

But it wasn’t just Africa! We were among the precious view travelers to ever get into Assam. We were among the very first to travel the Sepik River in New Guinea. We visited Manu in Brazil before it was Manu.

Many of these were first-time trips for the entire travel industry! There was real, enormous risk traveling to many of these places when we did. He insisted I ferret out these wild opportunities. So after I did my research I’d sit in his office and listen to the characteristically mild din of his sing-song voice that he wouldn’t go unless I did. I wonder if I would ever have gone if he hadn’t.

So beneath the mild veneer that so many people praise was a rigorous explorer, a risk-taker that inspired me.

But whether planning a trip or secreting in a baby gorilla against all the rules, he was a man of such impeccable morals it changed my behaviors forever for the so much better. The world isn’t as dark as I once thought.

I will never stop thinking of him.

Recce

Recce

If like me you have serious hope that Omicron (and fingers crossed, the whole pandemic) might be gone by mid-year then you might want to join me as I continue chasing the herds in Tanzania this June!

My November “Recky” turned out to be a “Wrecky!” We slipped into sub-Saharan Africa at just the right moment, early November. Days after we started a fabulous safari Omicron hit the headlines and literally days after we headed home new regulations by our CDC would have made coming home much more difficult than it was.
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Whoa Nelly!

Whoa Nelly!

Travelers squeezing hope out of several reports from South Africa that the Omicron variant declines as fast as it surges need to calm down.

Being cautious about this does not mean I don’t believe the reports. I do. This morning DMC News’ excellent summary highlighting South African scientists’ excellent field studies absolutely shows me that Omicron might be insignificant in South Africa in as few as a couple months. Why, then, the caution?
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T&C’s

T&C’s

How about if each of you – especially if you’re strangers to me – each send me $100 for the best dinner you’ve ever had in your life. We’ll do it in about a year. Promise it will be the most memorable meal of your life!

Any takers?

There’s a reason that travel purchases aren’t capitalistic. There’s no enforceable contract between the consumer and the provider of the service. In a sense it’s just hype. You can’t try it on. You can’t return it when it arrives broken. There’s no warranty other than ebullient promises.
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Clasping Covid

Clasping Covid

Whether, when, how and where to travel is more and more confusing.

You would think that someone like myself, having just returned from almost a month in Tanzania, would have some sage advice for you. Our trip to an “adventure” destination – one clearly in the throes of Covid – went off without a hitch. There were new hurdles to overcome that we all managed quite well. So what’s the problem?
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Level Headed Up

Level Headed Up

The BBC just published findings from thousands of British Covid cases of which 581 were the confirmed Omicron variant. The preliminary conclusion is that even those who are fully vaccinated with a booster have a 1 in 4 chance of getting sick from Omicron. How sick? The BBC is careful to say this won’t begin to be known until next week and hastened to add that the British Health Minister believes it will be “mild” sickness.

What is “mild?” Should you go on your trip?
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