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Some of our Safari Reading

The following are some of the books we recommend for guests preparing for or considering an African safari. Many are also beautiful reminders of your African safari and just flipping through them will have you yearning to return again. The list is by no means exhaustive and we encourage you to contact us if you are interested in specific recommendations.  We have grouped our recommendations by subject matter.  If you would like assistance locating a book (some may not be currently available in the US but we have several contacts in Southern Africa and can source any still in print for you) - please give us a call.

One final note worth mentioning...the bird guides (Newman's) and many of the other field guides are always available on virtually every game drive vehicle I've ever been on.  For this reason, you should not plan to carry any books with you on your African safari.  Guest copies of the more popular books recommended here are also available in many of the African safari camps and most of these are available for purchase in their curios. Still, I would not recommend taking up too much valuable space in your luggage with lots of books during your trip - I only take along a small writing journal for notes, etc. Rather leave your books at home and/or buy some at the camps, airport or bookstores before coming home.

Okavango - Africa's Wetland WildernessOkavango - Africa's Wetland Wilderness - Adrian Bailey
Our favorite book on the Delta, no question.  Excellent photographs, but more importantly, superbly edited and full of more information than one could possibly devour in one reading. We refer to it constantly. A must have for anyone who has visited.
Highly recommended.
Okavango: Jewel of the Kalahari - Karen Ross
Published in 1987 and out of print (we believe). An outstanding book, packed with information and not at all outdated in that respect. The book is the companion volume to the three-part television special made for the acclaimed PBS series Nature. Highly recommended if you can find a used copy.
Highly recommended.
The Miracle Rivers - The Okavango and Chobe of Botswana - Peter and Beverly Pickford
The is a fantastic book, another of my favorites. The book is one of the very large scale coffee-table size books but instead of page after page of animal photos, this one combines many unique sepia-tones photos, color drawings, maps and illustrations, and more unusual full-color photos than you would expect. The book covers the Okavango Delta, Chobe and the 2 rivers through a series of vignettes, interviews with local people, anecdotes of their own experiences, and intimate photographs.

Okavango - Sea of Land, Land of Water - Peter Johnson & Anthony Bannister
Photos and general text on the Delta. One of the older (1988) books on the Delta but still widely available to our knowledge. A solid overall general work on the Delta but really more of a collectors item for those who want them all.

Okavango - Africa's Last Eden - Frans Lanting
Big seller, lots of full-page large format color photos by the award-winning wildlife photographer. The accompanying text is very brief and more like short poems accompanying the fine pictures. Not in my top three list, but if you're a fan of Mr. Lantings or just want another beautiful coffee-table browser on the Delta, it won't disappoint.

Trees & Shrubs of the Okavango Delta - Veronica Roodt
An outstanding field guide packed with medicinal uses, lore and Veronica's beautiful artwork. One of James' favorites - essentially his Bible.
Common Wild Flowers of the Okavango Delta - Veronica Roodt
The Companion edition to the Trees & Shrubs, also excellent. Note that she is reportedly working on a new edition to cover grasses and such.
Wild About the Okavango - Duncan Butchart
An all-in-one guide to common animals and plants - very nice field guide, small enough to take on game drives easily. Excellent book for the first-time visitor. We recommend this one for anyone going to the Delta - widely available at most of the camps' curio shops or at book stores in South Africa.
Mombo - Okavango's Place of Plenty - Mike Myers, Penny Hoets and Grant Woodrow
For anyone who has visited Mombo Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve, this book is truly a must.  This publication is a fabulous 300+ page, huge coffee table book packed with superb photography, the history of Mombo and tales of its wildlife adventures (for which the camp has become renowned) told by guides, guests, and management - both past and present.  The book is published by Wilderness Safaris, who have managed Mombo Camp since 1991.
Highly recommended.

Chobe - Africa's Untamed WildernessChobe - Africa's Untamed Wilderness - Daryl and Sharna Balfour
This book is a personal account of the year the authors spent in Chobe National Park, capturing the soul of the spectacular wildlife area on film. They spent days and nights on the hunt with Lions, closely followed Leopards, Cheetah and Elephants and their hard work is revealed in their stunning images. The book runs almost as a diary, with daily extracts from their journals and it makes for an excellent read. One of our favorites. Highly recommended.

Images from a Timeless Wilderness - Richard Du Toit & Gerald Hinde
A beautiful photographic collection from two hard-working wildlife photographers.  The book portrays the cycle of life along Botswana's Khwai River which links the Okavango Delta to the sands of the semi-arid Kalahari. The two spent a year traveling along the Khwai and their photos are magnificent, including some amazing animal interactions are captured.  Highly recommended, especially if you are heading to the Botswana.
Wild Botswana - Adrian Bailey and Robyn Keene-Young
A medium sized photographic volume covering the wilderness areas of Botswana. The photos are of excellent quality and the text informative.  Not the first book I would recommend, but a nice addition to a collection.
BOTSWANA The Insider's Guide - Ian Michler (NEW 2004)
A unique and very informative book on traveling and discovering Botswana, especially for those considering a self-drive safari.  The book gives excellent insight into the culture and life of Botswana's people as well as valuable information on overland travel routes, recommended camps and lodges, and tips on where to find the best arts, crafts, festivals and music on your travels.  We have traveled with Ian in the Okavango and he has a great knowledge of Botswana's culture and its people.  I found this book refreshingly unique in its format and a very easy and interesting read.

Etosha, A Visual SouvenirEtosha, A Visual Souvenir - Daryl and Sharna Balfour
Nice photos in a small size book; very little information but a good visual essay on the famous Etosha National Park.

Skeleton Coast - Amy Schoeman
An in-depth look at the moist, coastal desert park in far western Namibia. Very nice photographic book, packed with information on the region's history, geology, climate, plants, wildlife, shipwrecks...everything.  The best book available on the Skeleton Coast, hands down.  If you're considering a visit, this is the book.

Namib Flora - Swakopmund to the Giant Welwitschia via Goanikontes - Patricia Craven & Christine Marais
Hard to find but very nice field guide with beautiful hand sketches and drawings. Crucial if you're looking to identify flora in this region of Namibia.
Damaraland Flora - Spitzkoppe, Brandberg, Twyfelfontein - Patricia Craven & Christine Marais
The companion edition to the Namib Flora. Same layout and nice artwork.

This is South AfricaThis is South Africa - Peter Borchert
A very nice visual essay on the country, albeit a bit dated in the copy I own (published 1995). The book covers the different people, cultures and geographies of South Africa the country with decent accompanying photographs. The text is well written and covers the history of the country as well as looking at the present day clime and hopes for its future. Good overview.
Bushveld Trees - Lifeblood of the Transvaal Lowveld - Malcom Funston
A large-format, coffee-table size book on trees. Yep. The book is a tribute to the trees of the Kruger National Park and the adjacent private game reserves. Superb photos accompany an informative and wide-ranging text. A page or two on 50 or 60 species.
The Kruger National Park - Wonders of an African Eden - Photography by Nigel Dennis, Text by Bob Scholes
Beautiful coffee-table book of Dennis' images from two years' work in the Kruger Park. The book is arranged into chapters covering seven ecological niches. Each chapter includes information on the animals, birds and flora, as well as giving pertinent tourist information, such as accommodation and facilities available (note that the book was published in 1995 but most info should hold true today). Lots of great photography and interesting reading. Highly recommended.

Newman's Birds of Southern AfricaNewman's Birds of Southern Africa - Kenneth Newman
There are several editions available; we have the Green Edition.  Ken is widely known as having THE authoritative bird guides for Southern Africa.  A must have if you're interested in the birds. Note that this book (or one like it) is available on virtually every African safari vehicle.
Sasol Birds of Prey of Africa and its Islands - Alan & Meg Kemp
Extremely fine field guide to the raptors with superb identification techniques.  Identifying the raptors is not easy for those who do not live amongst them day in and day out. Gives nice illustrations for identifying while at perch, flying (side views and from below) and also distinctive behaviors.  A treasure trove for the raptor fan!
The Birds Around Us - Richard Liversidge, Illustrations by Jill Adams and Norman Lighton
A beautiful large-size bird guide with incredibly well-done color illustrations. The format of the book is unique in that each of the 15 sections covers a habitat, which is color-coded on the fore-edge of the books pages. This book will not accompany you anywhere as it is huge for a bird guide. Probably a collector's item if you can locate a copy.
Southern African Birds - A Photographic Guide - Ian Sinclair and Ian Davidson
Another large-size photographic bird guide organized by family with a full page of photos opposite a full page of write-ups. Note that the Newman's books are more appropriate for the actual field (ie, African safari vehicles) but they use hand illustrations. This book uses a mixture of photos and illustrations. The book contains descriptions for over 700 species with 142 photos and 242 illustrations. An expensively produced, very nice coffee-table book that also serves as a field guide if you like.

The Behavior Guide to African MammalsThe Behavior Guide to African Mammals - Richard Despard Estes
The definitive field guide to African mammals.  This if the book for those who want to know it all.  Has details on distribution, ecology, social organization, postures and locomotion, predatory behavior, reproduction, parent/offspring behavior, etc.  This is no small book to digest - its scope is enormous and it's an excellent reference guide
Tracks & Signs of Southern and East African Wildlife - Chris & Tilde Stuart
One of James' favorites. A field guide to the spoor (i.e., tracks) and signs of the mammals of Southern Africa. For the dedicated naturalist who wants to go the the next level. Contains aides to identifying tracks, what may have killed a carcass by how if fed, etc. Lots of excellent photos - very detailed guide book. Not for everyone but fantastic if you are past identifying animals themselves and wish to move to spoor.
Signs of the Wild - Clive Walker
Another fine field guide on spoor and signs left behind by mammals. Covers literally every mammal in the region with a brief description, names in many of the local dialects, and details of spoor and feces. Not as detailed as the previous book but also quite good.
Wild Ways - Peter Apps
A really interesting collection of information on the behavior of Southern African Mammals.  Not meant to be the definitive guide, but James finds it to be one of the easiest to read.  "It includes many anecdotal facts that I had never heard before even amongst the 'definitive' guides."  No photographs, nice pencil illustrations only.
Mammals of Southern Africa Field Guide - Chris and Tilde Stuart
A rather basic but nonetheless excellent guide, especially for beginners and as a take-along for game drives as it is soft covered and not too large. More than 500 photos are included and the text has the usual distribution, habitat, and behavior write-ups.

Prides - The Lions of MoremiPrides - The Lions of Moremi - Chris Harvey and Pieter Kat
One of my current favorites. The best book on Lions and their behavior I have read. The book documents the authors' study of several prides of Lions in The Moremi Reserve. This book is for those with a more scientific mind-set who are interested in Lion behavior. The text shows how Okavango Lions challenge long-held assumptions about sociability, mating strategies and hunting techniques. For anyone with more than just an aesthetic appreciation of these cats, this book is tops. Highly recommended.
Running Wild - Dispelling the Myths of the African Wild Dog - John McNutt and Lesley Boggs, Photography by Hélène Heldring and Dave Hamman
Excellent photography, detailed and informative text. The best book available by far on this amazing animal. One of the world's most critically endangered mammals, the book depicts the daily life of the Mombo pack in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Many people travel to the Delta specifically to get a chance to see these captivating but persecuted carnivores. On our must have list for visitors to Botswana. Highly recommended.
The Leopards of Londolozi - Lex Hes
Based on Lex's observations of Leopards over 12 years (1979-1991) while based in Londolozi, an exclusive lodge in the game-rich bushveld of the eastern Transvaal in South Africa. The book is in chronological order and details incidents and episodes in the lives of a group of leopards.  Excellent photography and very interesting reading.
A Time with Leopards - Dale Hancock
The author, together with Kim Wolhuter, was responsible for the award-winning film Beauty and the Beasts, an outstanding documentary (see it if you can) to which this book is like a companion. The book (and film) were created in South Africa's Mala Mala Game Reserve, widely considered the best place to view leopards in Africa. The book follows a female Leopard through the season of her life, the birth and raising of her cubs, and struggles to survive.  A must have for Leopard lovers.
African Elephants - A Celebration of Majesty -Daryl and Sharna Balfour
A collection of 200 striking images taken on a four-year quest across Africa. They sought to portray Elephants in unspoiled places and the photography is outstanding. The book is divided into chapters based upon regions in East and Southern Africa. Chronicles Daryl's near-fatal encounter with Tshokwane, one of the Kruger Park's renowned big tuskers. If you love Elephants, this should certainly be in your collection.
Hunting with the Moon - The Lions of Savuti - Dereck and Beverly Joubert
These two renowned authors, cinematographers, photographers and conservationists are highly respected in Southern Africa. They have produced several acclaimed films for National Geographic and have lived and worked in Botswana for many years now. They have lived among Lions for most of their adult lives. Beverly's excellent images, many of the Savuti Lions' nighttime hunting forays, are accompanied by Dereck's field notes and engaging text. Highly recommended.
Creatures of Habit - understanding African animal behaviour - Peter Apps and Richard du Toit
A gorgeous collection of photos in this lengthy and expensively printed volume on animal behavior. Some of the chapters are 'Birth and Infancy', 'Food and Water', and 'Strategies for Survival'. An excellent book for those wanting to learn more about Southern African wildlife and their behavior.

Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa - Bill Branch
The current edition is the third for this excellent reference. If you want a book on reptiles, this is the one. It is primarily a photographic guide, designed for quick identification. The reptiles are organized by family and the text is quite comprehensive but not overly scientific. Each write-up discusses biology and breeding, habitat, range, subspecies and a small distribution map on the page margin. The best book available for reptiles.

The Kalahari - Survival in a Thirstland WildernessThe Kalahari - Survival in a Thirstland Wilderness - Photography by Nigel Dennis, text by Michael Knight and Peter Joyce
A stunning coffee-table size book of photos packed with excellent information on the Kalahari "desert". The book is one of our favorites - it is the rare gem that combines superb color photos with very informative reading.
Highly recommended.
African Wildlife Themes - Richard Du Toit
One of our favorite wildlife photographers shows his stuff in this collection of stunning photography.  The photos are arranged into themes like "Up Close", "In Action", and "Moods".  Richard is definitely one of the top in his field today.  The images are accompanied by short, but informative text. A great gift book - perfect for the coffee table.

Beyond the Endless Mopane - A photographic safari through Livingstone's Africa - Chris Harvey
Another large-format coffee-table size edition which is packed with excellent photos, mostly of wildlife with some landscapes. The book actually chronicles extracts from the writings and diaries of James Chapman and David Livingstone as the author visits areas made famous by these early pioneers.
Wild At Heart - Photographs by Chris Johns, Essays by Peter Godwyn
Brand new in 2003 - stunning and HUGE art-print size coffee-table book of photos by National Geographic's Senior Editor of Illustrations. The photography covers several different areas of Southern Africa and the essays offer a knowledgeable perspective on the conservation issues facing Africa today. Beautifully produced book, a masterpiece.
Highly recommended.
Roaring at the Dawn - Journeys in Wild Africa - Brian Jackman, photographs by Jonathan Scott and David Coulson
First published in 1995; may be hard to find. The book chronicles two decades of African safaris which the author has taken through Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. A portrait of life in the bush and a very interesting read with lovely accompanying photos.
Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa - Braam Van Wyk & Piet Van Wyk
Features more than 1000 species. Very comprehensive and rather lengthy book.  Packed with photos with a small write-up on each species.  For those who are really into identifying all of the trees out there - this is an advanced book.



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