J. Michael Fay

At the conclusion of his 290-mile transect on foot through the Central African Republic, National Geographic Explorer J. Michael Fay shares his big-picture observation of what he’s seen, heard and understood: The regression from colonial occupation and post-colonial nation states is making way for the ancient fault lines in the region’s geography and population dynamics. If...

Sudan Border Walk Day 20 (March 30, 2017) I heard Yaya stirring and looked at my watch: 02h20.  I said, Yaya it is two AM.  He said: “I am ready”. Then I heard Herve and Felix. No use, time to get up. Yaya said he heard the cattle come down to the river and he...

Sorry for the delayed posting. I was out of battery power and walking too much for my solar panel to charge stuff. Here is my post for March 29, 2017: There were colobus monkeys calling before dawn again along the river this morning. In the early 1980s, when I did surveys in the north of...

First day, maybe since the beginning, that somebody isn’t sick. That’s refreshing. Out of camp by five, and another 15-km leg to accomplish. We had our normal greeting of baboons, guinea fowl and warthogs in the morning. We picked up more presumed-giant-eland dung in about the same spot as last night, a bit further south....

  Last night there was a leopard vocalizing not too far from camp; first of the trip. The herders poison them for the skins, so their numbers are low. My turn for the squirts today. Yaya gave me a piece of two-day-old, half-cooked catfish which I almost stopped eating when I spied fly eggs on...

Just as I thought, this morning at 04h00 there wasn’t a peep. I was sleeping outside the river valley to stay out of the cold air coming back down the creek at night. I woke the troops and prepared my bag, packed my tent, brushed my teeth, and went down the hill. Yaya was ready;...

Got a real 05h00 start this morning. That, plus it being overcast from the halting storm we had last night, made it a good walking day. They call these March rains Mango Rains here. They are a very short wet season before the real wet season starting in May. Mango Rains are lots of wind, dust, thunder...

Last night, before we bedded down, there were driver ants [also know as army ants] down near the river. I had Felix burn leaves to chase them from our camp. All good…until 01h00, when I was driven from my sleep, halfway, when I half-dreamt half-felt things biting my head. Then two seconds later, I knew what...

Day started at 05h30. Program changed again. I decided the midday stop was too disruptive, so we are going back to a continuous day. I figure from 05h00 to noon we can wear ourselves out sufficiently and make between 15 and 20 km in a straight line. Pretty much right out the gates today we were either following...