A Slovakian photographer and TV personality plays tourist in the worst way in this 18-day loop through—no, hardly all of Africa, just South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Presented in scrapbook format with brief commentary introducing inset slide shows or, twice, a short video clip, the journey takes Nikodym and a group of unidentified vacationers from the “crime-sodden city of Johannesburg” to a dazzling sunrise over the Namibian desert’s remote Sossus Vlei. In between, the group passes through Zimbabwe (economically devastated, notes the author, since Mugabe’s “complete ousting of the white farmers”), take a mighty spill in a stretch of Zambezi River whitewater dubbed “The Devil’s Toilet Bowl,” sample an “exceptionally disgusting” alcoholic beverage and marvel at native dancers in a Ndebele village. Later stops include two national parks for fetching photos of wildlife and a school for close-ups of African children. A long drive (“Continue 958 kilometers,” advises their GPS) takes them to the Europeanized German enclave of Swakopmund. Readers can opt for a text in either Slovak or occasionally awkward English, and they can pull up a strip of chapter thumbnails from any page. The travelogue looks good, featuring handsome photos aplenty backed by several tracks of lively African music—but a rushed conclusion, not to mention multiple references to the expedition’s corporate sponsor and the author’s superficial observations and colonialist attitudes, give the outing a self-indulgent air.
Slickly produced memento of a forgettable road trip. (iPad nonfiction app. 10 & up)