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What to Read on Safari in Africa

namibiabradtGoing on safari means getting an education. That may sound boring, but it’s quite the opposite. It is amazing how much you learn about the animals you’re seeing, the environment, and the local culture. It’s always an eye-opener. Much of your learning will come from the local people around you, including your driver and/or guide (if you have one). But a few key books are very useful as well and we list our recommendations below. For individual country travel guides, we like the Bradt series.

With i-Pads and Kindles, you can download as many books as you want without having to pay for extra luggage. MyDigitalEarth.com also has some excellent apps you can download onto your i-Pad or phone to identify trees, mammals, and birds in Southern Africa.

Books about East Africa

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass – Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen)

Unbowed – Wangari Maathai

The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories – Ernest Hemingway

The Hanging Tree – David Lambkin

West with the Night – Beryl Markham

The Tree Where Man Was Born – Peter Matthiessen

Africa: Biography of a Continent – John Reader

Year of the Gorilla – George Schaller

In the Dust of Kilimanjaro – David Western

Coming of Age with Elephants – Joyce Pool

Land of a Thousand Hills, My Life in Rwanda – Roz Carr

I Dreamed of Africa – Kuki Gallman

Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux

Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story  – Dame Daphne Sheldrick

Circling Around the Sun – Paula Mclain

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (fiction) – Nicholas Drayson

Out in the Midday Sun – Elspeth Huxley

The In-Between World of Vikram LallM.G Vassanji

Books about Southern Africa

A Walk with a White Bushman – Laurens van der Post

Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

The Boer War – Thomas Pakenham

Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

Brave Men’s Blood – Ian Knight

Scramble for Africa – Thomas Pakenham

Elephant Song – Wilbur Smith

African Stories – Doris Lessing

South African Wine – Hughes, Hands, Kench et al

No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller

And Books About Safaris and Wildlife of Africa


Adventuring in East Africa – Allen Bechky

Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania – Dale Zimmerman et al

Insight Guides East African Wildlife

In the Shadow of Man – Jane Goodall

Photographing on Safari: A Field Guide to Wildlife Photography in East Africa – Joe McDonald

The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals – Richard Estes

Travels Along the Edge – David Noland

Behaviour Guide to African Mammals and The Safari Companion – Richard D. Estes

Safari: A Chronicle Of Adventure – Bartle Bull

Adventuring In Southern Africa – Allen Bechky

Complete Guide to Walks and Trails in South Africa – Jaynee Levy

Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa – Kenneth Newman

Guide to Southern African Game & Nature Reserves – Chris & Tilde Stuart

Guide to Southern African Safari Lodges – Peter Joyce

The Lions and Elephants of Chobe – Bruce Aitken

Kalahari – Life’s Variety in Dune and Delta – Michael Main

Zambezi – River of Africa – Mike Coppinger and Jumbo Williams

African Thunder – The Victoria Falls – Jan and Fiona Teede

Eye Of The Elephant – Mark and Delia Owen

Running Wild: Dispelling the Myths of African Wild Dog – John McNutt

Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa – Braam Van Wyk & Piet Van Wyk

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild – Lawrence Anthony

Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home – Boyd Varty

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