Margarita Dobert, 94, a writer who spent the latter portion of her life seeking adventure in travels to exotic locations, died of cancer June 24 at her Glen Echo Heights home.
She was a regular spring and summer visitor to Europe, and such a lover of mountains that she climbed Africa's highest peak, Kilimanjaro, trekked the Himalayas in Nepal and skied down the Austrian and Italian Alps until she was 79.
Mrs. Dobert enjoyed visiting remote or difficult places -- in Togo, Yemen, Pakistan, China, Papua New Guinea, the Nile River Valley or the Congo, often traveling alone, with little money.
She self-published the first volume of her memoirs and nearly finished a second volume. Over the years, she contributed book reviews and accounts of her travels to the former Washington Star and The Washington Post.
"I published some of her work," said Harry Bacas, who was magazine editor at the Star and who became Mrs. Dobert's friend. "She was interested in exploring the world, and she found people interesting. Ask her about any one trip, and she would go on and on about people she met. . . . She was quick-witted and quick of speech; she didn't speak in long paragraphs, she spoke in rapid-fire bursts -- not impolite, just always asking questions and telling anecdotes. It all just tumbled out."
At age 60, Mrs. Dobert earned a doctoral degree in international relations at George Washington University, with a thesis topic of women's roles in French-speaking Africa. Later she joined the African team of the Foreign Area Studies Group, a think tank at American University, where she contributed to 14 books.
In her 70s and 80s, she traveled in Russia, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Myanmar and Malaysia. She had been in every country in Europe and most of those in Asia and Africa. She had explored Cuba, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and the back roads of Brazil. Her idea of a pleasant winter vacation was a trip to Antarctica that included exploring remote areas in an inflatable rubber boat launched from a Russian scientific ship. She was in her late 80s at the time, and apologized to friends for taking an "arranged" trip rather than her usual solo jaunt.
In 1964, she was the subject of an article in The Post that described her trip through Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Mali as a "one-woman safari." She had traveled by truck, boat, bicycle and a $1-a-day horse, carrying only a map, an air mattress and three dresses.
Mrs. Dobert was born in what was then known as Constantinople, Turkey, the daughter of a Greek father and a German mother. The family moved to Germany when she was 4 and she grew up in Berlin, earning her bachelor's and master's degrees at German universities. In 1933, she married a German refugee in Basel, Switzerland, where he lectured and wrote anti-Nazi books. The couple later moved to Geneva and, in 1939, came to the United States.
The Doberts bought a 99-acre farm near Charlottesville, Va., where they raised chickens for about two years, living with their two children in a log cabin without running water or electricity.
During World War II, with her husband in the Army, Mrs. Dobert moved to Washington and worked first as a researcher and fact checker for a book on economics and then as a Washington correspondent for Ziff Davis, a magazine publisher. Later, she was associate editor of Machinist magazine. She edited books on labor in the Soviet Union and on Islamic nationalism.
After the war, the Doberts bought a small house in Glen Echo Heights. Working largely with their own hands, they rebuilt it into a showpiece with an enormous, irregularly shaped swimming pool overlooking the Potomac River.
Her husband of 61 years, Eitel Wolf Dobert, a professor of German literature at the University of Maryland, died in 1994.
Survivors include two sons, Stefan Dobert of Fair Haven, and Peter Dobert of Bend, Ore.; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.