Finally booked that safari trip you’ve been dreaming about for years? Now’s the time to start thinking about which African safari books to get reading!
Whether you need a book on safari to read on the plane or, enjoy downtime between game drives, or read up on your destination before you go, don’t just stick to the guide book or wildlife tome. Rather let yourself be whisked away by these memoirs and fiction inspired by the land of safari.
Here’s our pick of the very best African safari books:
Born Free: The Full Story by Joy Adamson
All three books in the ‘Born Free’ trilogy had an incredible impact on wildlife conservation, and are a must-read for a safari trip – especially if you’re taking children or teenager.
Illustrated with beautiful photographs (and with a safari-related film of the same name), the first book tells Joy’s story of acting as a surrogate mother to an orphaned lion cub named Elsa. After three years of teaching the cub how to survive in the world, she sets Elsa free hoping she will discover her real pride in the Kenya grasslands.
Collected African Stories (Vol 1 and 2) by Doris Lessing
She may have been British, but Doris Lessing was a Nobel prize-winning author who lived for 25 years on a farm in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and campaigned against Apartheid in South Africa. Her collection of short stories (taken from This Was The Old Chief’s Country, and four tales from her book Five) is a fascinating ode to and critique of the Africa she lived in, from the relationship between British colonials and the native people to the African wildlife she encountered every day.
Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens
This moving memoir tells the story of two American scientists, who decided to auction off all their belongings and relocate to Africa to study the carnivores of the Kalahari desert – an area with no conservation policies and an increasingly endangered African wildlife.
Don’t Run, Whatever You Do: My Adventures as a Safari Guide, by Peter Allison
This hilarious novel is Bill Bryson-esque in its wit and humour. Peter Allison works as a safari guide in the Okavango Delta, and he recounts his experiences with the wildlife and his wealthy guests – sometimes the latter are more dangerous than the former!
Peppered with a genuine love for the animals and passion for trips that aren’t invasive to the local habitat (despite his guests getting lost naked in the jungle, refusing to wear suitable safari clothes in favour of pink, and letting a squirrel eat their malaria pills), Allison offers essential words of safari wisdom, such as ‘Don’t run, whatever you do ‘ and ‘Never stand behind a frightened zebra’!
The Elephant Whisperer: Learning about life, loyalty and freedom from a remarkable herd of elephants, by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence
South African Conservationist Lawrence Anthony writes of his experience accepting a herd of rogue elephants on his game reserve at Thula Thula. The herd had escaped from reserves before, and this was their last chance of survival – but the tragic loss of a mother and baby means they don’t make it easy for Lawrence as they try to resist his attempts to bond with them.
Equal parts laugh out loud funny and incredibly moving moments, the book is as much a fascinating insight into life on a reserve as a great read on elephants and other types of wildlife. It’s a bit of an emotional roller-coaster and thoroughly absorbing, so great for a long journey and fighting jetlag!
What do you think of this list of African safari books? Any great candidates we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!