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.

Face It

Face It

Steve Farrand and I have now completed four days in the northern Serengeti after a couple down at Manyara. Tomorrow we pick up five more intrepid travelers to continue my survey of post-pandemic Tanzania.

The troubled world goes well beyond Fox News. Vaccine is available in the most remote corners of Tanzania, but much of it’s sitting in fridges unused. One of Africa’s most prestigious safari companies, AndBeyond, admitted to me this week that most of their staffs remain unvaccinated.
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For Given

For Given

ABC’s David Muir, the anchor for the most watched evening television network news show in America, is reporting how the climate disaster in Madagascar is causing a devastating famine.

What I’ve seen so far is accurate. Muir represents that unique type of reporter who is concerned with the brain in his head rather than the hairdo on it, which is the case with most of his ABC colleagues. But the heart-wrenching story he’s reporting is most important for what Muir seems unable to tell.
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Sibili

Sibili

EWT currently has one safari operating in Kenya and I will be leaving on the weekend to take another to Tanzania. These are the first safaris EWT has operated since the pandemic and we’re learning a lot about what travelers like me should expect and how radically different the business landscape has become.

There’s a lot for me to still learn but I have some very preliminary advice to persons considering traveling to East Africa. It boils down to money: Don’t go if you don’t spend a lot but don’t spend a lot without being very, very careful.
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WorkKing

WorkKing

Worldwide the pandemic response was a society — like a house with windows — pulling down all its blinds. As we cautiously pry open the levers what will we see?

In the developing world we’ll see how young societies fared without the heavy influence of world powers. In normal prepandemic times there was hardly a move that an African government made without first running it by a host of global powers. That didn’t happen the last two years.
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Not At Last

Not At Last

How times have changed! I love cliches. And the pandemic has helped refresh traditions and with that, nostalgia, and with, sentimentality and so now I’m terrified. In a few weeks I head back to my most loved Serengeti. What will it be like?

I drove my first safari vehicle into the Serengeti from Kenya’s Mara in February, 1972, and when I’m reminded that’s a half century ago I feel like putting on a toga and sitting on a park bench dribbling bread crumbs to pigeons.
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Brake-Through

Brake-Through

The malaria vaccine is continuing good news in the battle against disease in Africa, but it’s not a cause for great celebration. I’m a bit peeved, in fact, with the PR-rollout of Mosquirix by GlaxoSmithKline which strikes me more as an attempt by the pharma to remain relevant after the failure of its Sanofi–GSK Covid vaccine.

Here’s the thing. Mosquirix has been around in some form since 1987. Much improved, its efficacy is still as low as 26% (the highest in any study was 50%) and only for toddlers. It’s not effective against young adults and older.
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People Day

People Day

Technically today is a federal holiday called “Columbus Day” but it’s rather confused. Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont have all banned it and replaced it with “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Many more local counties have done the same or as President Biden did this morning simultaneously order the celebration of “Indigenous Peoples Day.”

NBCNews put it best, “Columbus Day is not a holiday the U.S. — and Italian Americans — should celebrate” …because?
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