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What to Read

What to Read


For a thought-provoking and well-informed survey,  Africa: A Biography of the Continent serves as a strong (816 pages) foundation of African geology, geography, history and politics. For those looking for country-specific and perhaps shorter works, we have partnered with Longitude Books, where you will find many of the following recommendations.


Botswana, South Africa and Zambia

Essential reading might include Big Five of Africa for its award-winning photographs and informative text and Botswana, The Bradt Safari Guide, which covers the country’s history, flora, fauna and practicalities. To better understand the countries you’ll visit, consider the captivating tales of Whatever You Do, Don’t Run (Botswana); Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary memoir titled Long Walk to Freedom (South Africa); or the explorer David Livingstone’s rich portraits of people, nature and culture in The Zambesi Expedition, To the Zambesi River and Its Tributaries. For literary inspiration, try the delights of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency or the moving story of Cry, The Beloved Country about the quest for justice in the era of apartheid.

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Kenya & Tanzania: A Classic Safari

Essential reading might include The Safari Companion, a best-seller guide to Africa’s mammals, and Northern Tanzania, The Bradt Safari Guide, a practical overview of the history, people and wildlife of the Serengeti and surrounding parks. To better understand the countries you’ll visit, consider the classic portrait of East Africa The Tree Where Man Was Born; a look back by one of the first Maasai safari guides titled The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior; or the concise Culture Smart! Kenya and Culture Smart! Tanzania. For literary inspiration, consider Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen’s moving autobiography about life on a Kenyan plantation, or The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Hemingway’s stories set in Africa.

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South Africa: An Elegant Adventure

Essential reading might include The Wildlife of Southern Africa, a compact field guide, and The Safari Companion, a best-seller guide to Africa’s mammals. To better understand South Africa, consider My Traitor’s Heart, an Afrikaner journalist’s story of his family’s heritage and the country’s racial divide; the succinct A History of South Africa; or The Mirror at Midnight, A South African Journey, a riveting blend of travel and history. For literary inspiration, try Nadine Gordimer’s Booker Prize-winning The Conservationist, or Blood Safari, a suspenseful mystery about the murder of four poachers.

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Tanzania: Serengeti to Zanzibar

Essential reading might include Wildlife of East Africa, a take-along guide, or Green Hills of Africa, Hemingway’s tales of hunting around Lake Manyara. To better understand the countries you’ll travel to, consider Culture Smart! Tanzania, covering its customs, etiquette and culture, or Into Africa, about a year in the field studying lions in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. For literary inspiration, try the prize-winning The Book of Secrets, for intrigue, history and politics; West with the Night, a memoir encompassing East Africa’s landscapes, people and wildlife; or Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar, recalling a time when sultans reigned over Zanzibar.

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Just for Kids on Safari

Recommended reading might include African Wildlife Trivia for facts and fun; African Wildlife, a foldout guide designed for quick reference in the field; and the Lonely Planet Swahili Phrasebook, for language lovers. The Adventures in Africa of Carey Monroe is a fictional 12-year-old’s exciting and humorous impressions of two weeks in Kenya with his ditzy aunt that lends an understanding of the importance of conservation. Get Bushwise: On Safari – Desert, River, Bushveld, A Young Explorer’s Guide introduces the unique wildlife and habitat of each region, from what to expect to what is dangerous and fascinating. Lucky Fish tells the true story of a 13-year-old boy in Johannesburg whose parents were imprisoned in apartheid South Africa.

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