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Safari Reading List




Safari-Girl African Safaris

Wildlife and Travel Guides

Cheetahs - Luke Hunter

Although cheetahs are the fastest land mammal on earth, they have a tougher time than most think securing a meal.  This book is a great introduction to the world of cheetahs.


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

This is a great resource book for your safari.  Estes describes the diets, behaviors, and habitat of large and small African mammals.  Written with the typical safari-goer in mind, it is a great book to take along no matter how many times you have been to Africa.


Wildlife of East Africa  -  Martin B. Withers – David Hosking

Featuring full-color photos of 475 common species of bird, mammal, snake, lizard, insect, tree, and flowers, this book will take you on an exquisite tour through the living splendor of the main national parks and game reserves of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.


Insight Guide Kenya  Insight Guides

An illustrated survey of the country, its history, people and wildlife.  Includes an overview of the different national parks and conservations areas in Kenya as well as valuable tips for tourists.


Fodor’sThe Complete African Safari Planner, 1st Edition with Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania

You can’t go wrong with Fodor’s!  An excellent guide book including information on the best game parks, the best time to go, the different tribes, the best accommodations, historical snapshots,  health and security, getting there, and, of course, the flora and fauna of all these countries.  


The Rough Guide to Kenya - Richard Trillo, Daniel Jacobs, and Nana Luckham

This is the ultimate guide to East Africa’s best known destination.  From the live music in Nairobi to the Turkana overland safaris, this guide book details the best places to stay, eat and drink, to suit every budget.  There is plenty of practical advice on getting the most out of Kenya, from the well-known safari parks to little-known reserves.  The guide looks at Kenya’s history, politics and culture and comes complete with maps of the different regions. 


Watching Wildlife Southern Africa (Lonely Planet) -  Matthew Firestone    

Get up close and personal with Southern Africa’s amazing wildlife with this all-in-one safari guide. Includes lots of advice from Lonely Planet’s Africa experts as well as in depth coverage of the major parks and reserves.


Birds of East Africa  - (Collins Field Guide) J.G. Williams and Norman Arlott  

An excellent source book about birds and a “must have” to take on safari.  Included in this gem of a book are 650 color illustrations of and 1,283 species described.


Bradt Safari Guide – Northern Tanzania with Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar  -  Philip Briggs

A compact, practical overview of the history, wildlife, and attractions of northern Tanzania, including the Serengeti, Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Olduvai, Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar.


Kingdom Pocket Guide to African Mammals  -  Jonathan Kingdom

An artist and biologist, Kingdom provides both delightful full-color illustrations and informative text for this great guide.


Recommended Reading

Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story - Daphne Sheldrick

In this heartwarming and poignant memoir, Daphne shares her amazing relationships with orphans, particularly elephants. She is the first person ever to have successfully hand-reared newborn elephants. This is also a magical and heartbreaking human story between her husband, and soulmate, David Sheldrick, the famous Tsavo game park warden.


Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness - Alexandra Fuller

This story is about Alexandra Fuller's mother, Nicola, and her Happy Valley-era childhood in Africa. It also describes the civil war-torn Africa of Fuller's own childhood. Fuller interviewed her mother at length and has captured her inimitable voice about her life in Africa. It is funny, terrifying, exotic, and as unselfconscious as Nicola herself.


Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa - Mark Seal

The mesmerizing story of the captivating life and shocking death of world-renowned naturalist, filmmaker, and lifelong conservationist, Joan Root.  After Alan Root divorced Joan, after 20 years of marriage, this beautiful and fascinating woman found her own voice. 


The Fear - Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe - Peter Godwin

Finally, a chronicle of the mess that is Zimbabwe. The Fear explains in stunning detail the violent realities, the grotesque injustices, the hunger, the sadness, and a portrait of Mugabe, the tyrant who is the cause of it all.


When a Crocodile Eats the Sun - Peter Godwin 

A moving memoir about Godwin's father's whose death played out against the backdrop of the collapse of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe.  Godwin's deeply personal book describes the cruel regime of the self-proclaimed president for life, Robert Mugabe.


The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa - Douglas Rogers

Born in Zimbabwe, New York-based travel writer Rogers moves between two worlds with wit and grace while telling the story of his childhood in Zimbabwe and his recent return to one of the last resorts to survive under the ruthless dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.


The House at Sugar Beach - In Search of a Lost African Childhood  - Helene Cooper

With unflinching honesty and a survivor’s gentle humor, The House at Sugar Beach is a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country.  And, at its heart, it is a story of one brave woman’s long voyage home.   


Casting with a Fragile Thread:  A Story of Sisters in Africa  -  Wendy Kann

Wendy Kann was awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from Africa: her youngest sister, Lauren, had been killed on a lonely road in Zambia, not far from their childhood home in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.  Her sister’s death summoned Kann back to Africa.  With honesty and compassion, Kann pieces together Lauren’s life, explores the heartbreak of loss and belonging, and ultimately discovers a new, more profound meaning of home.


The End of the Game  -  Peter Beard and Paul Theroux

Beard’s classic work documents the history of explorers, missionaries and big-game hunters in Africa with dozens of paintings and modern and historic photographs.


The Tree Where Man was Born  -  Peter Matthiessen

This classic portrait of East Africa, enthralling in its detail on nature and daily life, takes in the Maasai, Ngorongoro, the Kenyan highlands and Mathiessen’s field trips, safaris and adventures in the Serengeti.


Africa, The Serengeti  -  George Casey – James Earl Jones

This 40 minute IMAX documentary follows the fate of the wildebeest on the year-long migration in Kenya and Tanzania.  If you are getting ready to embark on your very first safari, this is a must-see.  The filmmakers capture not only the scope of the Serengeti but also the drama and gore of birth, predation, and fighting.  


Jambo Mamba  -  Melinda Atwood

Saddened and overwhelmed by her mother’s passing, Atwood wanted to start fresh…at a place far, far away from New York City.  Her love of Africa took her to Kenya where she planned on spending one year.  She ended up staying six years, living by sheer determination.  Although she struggled with loneliness, isolation, financial adversity, a disastrous love affair, and single parenthood…she ended up finding what she had searched for her entire life…a new sense of self.


The Flame Trees of Thika  -  Elsbeth Huxley

A story of a young woman’s life as a pioneering settler in Thika, Kenya A true classic about colonial Kenya.


No Picnic on Mount Kenya  -  Felice Benuzzi and Rick Ridgeway

A daring tale of the author’s escape from a prisoner of war camp to climb Mount Kenya.  Among its many pleasures are Benuzzi’s accounts of landscapes, wildlife and habitats on the way to the top. 


Out of Africa  and Shadows on the Grass  -  Isak Dinesen

The story of a young woman who leaves Denmark for East Africa.  It is a moving story inspired by Dinesen’s love for Kenya and its people.


Letters from Africa (1914-1931) - Isak Dinesen  -  Frans Lasson

A rich biographical perspective about the brilliant storyteller whose sophisticated romantic fiction made her an international success.  The letters in the book contain the raw material that was later transformed into her classic book “Out of Africa.”


Isak Dinesen – The Life of a Storyteller  -  Judith Thurman

A comprehensive and well-researched biography about the life of Isak Dinesen, aka Karen Blixen.  Thurman leads the reader through the details of Dinesen’s life which explains why she did what she did, where she obtained her passion, and her compassion, and how she went from a sheltered Danish aristocratic life to colonial Africa.   An excellent account of Isak Dinesen’s life.


Land of a Thousand Hills - My Life in Rwanda  -  Rosamond Halsey Carr and Anne Howard Halsey

An amazing woman’s story of her adventurous life in Africa.  Carr left her job in New York to join her hunter-explorer husband in the Belgian Congo.  After her divorce, she moved to neighboring Rwanda.  Carr lived an extraordinary life witnessing the fall of colonialism, the loss of her friend, Dian Fossey, and clashes between the Hutus and the Tutsis.  After being evacuated during the genocide, Carr returned to Rwanda at age 82, rebuilt her home from the ground up, and opened a home for orphaned children.  


A Lion Called Christian: The True Story of the Remarkable Bond Between Two Friends and a Lion –  Anthony Bourke and John Rendall

A Lion Called Christian tells the remarkable story of how Anthony “Ace” Bourke and John Rendall, visitors to London from Australia in 1969, bought the boisterous lion cub in the pet department of Harrods. For several months, the three of them shared a flat above a furniture shop on London’s King’s Road.  Their story is about their strong desire to protect Christian as he grew up which eventually led to a meeting with “Born Free’s” George Adamson in Kenya.  A truly delightful story which has recently been updated.    


Born Free:  A Lioness of two Worlds  Joy Adamson

Adamson recounts her adventures as the surrogate mother of an orphaned lion cub named Elsa (with parenting duties shared by her husband, George Adamson).  Joy painstakingly taught Elsa the skills she would need to survive in the wild.  Against all odds, Elsa did join her own pride some three years later.


Zamba: The True Story of the Greatest Lion That Ever Lived  -  Ralph Helfer

Legendary Hollywood animal trainer and behaviorist Helfer captures an incredible story of love between man and a lion.  His unique bond with a lion cub he names Zamba grows into a lifelong relationship.


Elephant Memories – Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family  -  Cynthia Moss

Cynthia Moss has been involved with the elephants of Amboseli since 1973.  She and her colleagues have made a substantial contribution to our knowledge of elephant biology and behavior.  In this book she follows one extended family through 13 years of good times and bad times, observing details of their daily lives.  Any reader interested in animals will be captivated.


Cry of the Kalahari   -  Mark and Delia Owens

The story of the Owens’ travel and life in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana, where they studied brown hyenas and lion for seven years despite the hardships and life-threatening situations they faced almost daily.  A very good and informative read.     


The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness  -  Mark and Delia Owens  

Their personal story, to save the elephants in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, is an adventure filled with the color and scent of wild Africa, with recreations of their arduous treks through the wilderness, with escapes from attempts on their lives by disgruntled Africans, and with engrossing descriptions of the lives and habits of animals.


The Lives of Beryl Markham  -  Errol Trzebinski

Beryl Markham was one of Africa’s first bush pilots.  She grew up in Africa and wrote the book “West with the Night.”  This is the true biography of this amazing woman: knowledgeably researched, rich in detail, telling the secrets (and there were many…) and playing out the dramas that were carefully concealed in the pages of “West  with the Night.”  


West with the Night  -  Beryl Markham

An engrossing story of an adventurous life well-lived.  Markham describes her childhood in Kenya and her experiences as a bush pilot in the 1930’s, evoking the landscapes, people, and wildlife of East Africa in rich detail.  


Splendid Outcast:  Beryl Markham’s African Stories  -  Beryl Markham

Written in the 40’s for magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal and Collier’s, these eight stories belong both to their time and to the author, the aviatrix and horse-trainer who wrote the bestselling book West with the Night, about her 1936 solo flight east to west across the Atlantic.  About flying, romance, and horses, the early autobiographical stories are vivid  with details of African custom and landscape gleaned from the author’s early life in Kenya.  A great and interesting read.    

No one Loved Gorillas More:  Dian Fossey Letters from the Mist  -  Camilla de la BeDoyere

“No one Loved Gorillas More” is a powerful reminder of what Dian Fossey fought for.  These imposing

Intelligent yet shy creatures are dramatically captured in photographs by Bob Campbell, who worked closely with Dian for several years.  And compelling letters written by Dian herself bring to life her fearless spirit, and the trials, setbacks, and joys of her years spent at Karisoke.   Published in association with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and enhanced with details of the gorilla families she loved so much, this heartfelt, lively, and dramatic books tells Dian’s story in her own words, providing a unique perspective of a unique woman.


Wildlife Warriors:  Steve Irwin – 1962-2006 – A Man Who Changed the World   - Richard Shears

Wildlife Warriors charts Steve Irwin’s amazing life – from his childhood in Victoria, Australia, through his work in the wilderness and his zoo.  It follows his story into marriage and his fame on the world stage as he took every opportunity to spread the word about wildlife conservation.  He was a natural historian, whose passion will be remembered long after his death in 2006.   


I Dreamed of Africa  Kuki Gallman

Both a dream fulfilled and personal tragedy are revealed in this moving memoir.  Italian-born Gallman tells of her move to Ol Ari Nyiro, a ranch set in the highland plains in the shadow of Mt. Kenya.  It is a

personal account of Kuki Gallman’s life in Africa, where she still lives today.


Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight:  An African Childhood  -  Alexandra Fuller

Alexandra Fuller’s description of war-torn Africa and the effect it had on her family is a story you will not soon forget.  The fact that she, her sister, and parents even survived at all, is unbelievable.  Fuller is an amazing story teller.  She has the rare ability to take the reader to exactly where she was at any point of her youth.    


Scribbling the Cat:  Travels with an African Solider  -  Alexandra Fuller

Fuller journeys through modern Zambia, to battlefields in Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the scarred veteran of the Rhodesian Wars who she identifies only as “K.”  Intrigued by the mysterious neighbor of her parent’s farm and further enticed by her father’s warning that “curiosity scribbled the cat” (“scribbling” in Afrikaans means “killing”), Fuller embarks on a journey that covers as much cratered psychic landscape as it does African bush country.


Left to Tell:  Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust  -  Immaculee Ilibagiza

Growing up in a country she loved, Immaculee was surrounded by a family she cherished.  In 1994, however, her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide.  Her family was brutally murdered during the Rwandan genocide that lasted three months.  Immaculee survived. Hidden in a cramped bathroom with seven other women for 91 days it was then that she discovered the power of prayer.  The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.


The Africa House:  The True Story of an English Gentleman and his African Dream Christina Lamb

This story takes you back to Shiwa House, a sprawling English manor that was built by Sir Stewart Gore- Browne when Zambia was Northern Rhodesia.  With vivid imagination, Lamb recreates Gore-Browne’s life from 1914 to 1967, with all the struggles to make the estate support itself…not an easy task in the wilds of Africa.   


House of Stone: The True Story of a Family Divided in War-Torn Zimbabwe – Christina Lamb

Two very different lives run parallel to each other in award-winning British journalist Lamb’s riveting account of Zimbabwe’s brutal civil war in the 1970’s, the elation of becoming the last British colony in Africa to win independence in 1980…and then the descent into madness.  Lamb’s indictment of Mugabe and his African enforcers and European enablers is complete; however, she demonstrates an extraordinary capacity to take the reader into the racism- and colonialism problems of this period. 


My Heart is Africa – A Flying Adventure  -  Scott Griffin

An absorbing adventure story of Griffin’s decision to fly his small, single engine Cessna 180 solo from Canada to Africa…and back again.  It is a story of Africa – its problems and people, its landscapes and limitations, it culture and courage. 


Rainbow’s End  -  A Memoir of Childhood, War and an African Farm   Lauren St. John

Set against the backdrop of the Rhodesian civil war, St. John’s memoir of growing up on a farm and game reserve in the 70’s conjures up the smells and sounds of the African bush and the era’s climate of racism and feverish patriotism.  When her father was not away fighting terrorists, he managed a farm called Rainbow’s End, where four previous tenants, including St. John’s classmate, were murdered by guerillas.  A wonderful and haunting tale about St. John’s childhood.  



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