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Books to Read Before, During and After your Safari in Africa

In the words of St Augustine — “The world is a book, and only those who do not travel read only a page”.  Saint Augustine lived in the 4th and 5th Century in northern Africa and Italy. In an age when few people traveled more than a few kilometers from where they were born, Augustine saw more of the world than most of us dream of.

Going on safari is a fantastic opportunity for broadening your horizons. Our clients often remark at the amazing education they received; how much they learned about the animals they saw, the environment, and the local culture. Much of your learning will come from the local people you encounter, particularly your safari guide. But we strongly encourage you to find some time to do some arm chair traveling in advance of your departure by reading a few of our recommended books listed below.

For individual country travel guides, we like the Bradt series or Fodor’s travel guides.

With iPad and Kindle, you can download as many books as you like without having to pay for extra luggage.  MyDigitalEarth.com also has some excellent apps you can download to your phone or device to identify trees, mammals, and birds in Southern Africa.   Enjoy!


Africa: Biography of a Continent – John Reader

The State of Africa – Martin Meredith

The Scramble for Africa – Thomas Pakenham

East Africa

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

I Dreamed of Africa– Kuki Gallman

West with the Night – Beryl Markham

The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories – Ernest Hemingway

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

Unbowed – Wangari Maathai

The Hanging Tree – David Lambkin

The Tree Where Man Was Born – Peter Matthiessen

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 – Roz Carr

Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux

Circling the Sun – Paula McLain

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa – Nicholas Drayson

Out in the Midday Sun – Elspeth Huxley

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall – M.G Vassanji

The White Masai – C. Hofmann

Southern Africa

Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

African Stories – Doris Lessing

A Walk with a White Bushman – Laurens van der Post

The Covenant – J.A. Michener

Life and Times of Michael K, Waiting for the Barbarians, Disgrace – J.M Coetzee

Brave Men’s Blood – Ian Knight

Elephant Song, The Leopard Hunts in Darkness – Wilbur Smith

South African Wine – Hughes, Hands, Kench et al

The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay

Blood River – T. Butcher

No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

Makiwa, When the Crocodile Eats the Sun, The Fear – Peter Godwin

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness – Alexandra Fuller

The Last Resort – Douglas Rogers

Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

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

A Field Guide to Wildlife Photography in East Africa – Joe McDonald

Travels Along the Edge – David Noland

Safari: A Chronicle of Adventure – Bartle Bull

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

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

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

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run (Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide) – Peter Allison

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

Children’s Books

Tippi: My Book of Africa – Tippi Degre

The Water Princess – Susan Verde

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba

A Long Walk to Water – Linda Sue Park

Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai – Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton

Africa Coloring Book for Kids 

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