8 Safari Themed Books to Read Before Going to Africa

It’s pretty standard behaviour to pour over a few novels and guidebooks prior to arriving at your holiday destination. And there’s nothing more inspiring than reading something that transports you straight to your dream destination. There are numerous folklore tales, non-fiction books, autobiographies, and novels written about Africa. Africa inspires – it’s a raw, wild, tumultuous and mind-blowingly beautiful continent. A continent that has inspired many classics and inspiration for movies.

If you’re coming on safari to Africa, then we urge you to dust off your bookmark and get your nose stuck into these 8 safari themed books. We’ve also suggested lodges to stay in close proximity of where the novel

There are so many novels out there that we haven’t mentioned – we’ve just focussed on safari novels for today. But if you’d like to add a few more to the list we suggest : No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The Long Walk to Freedom, Cry, the Beloved Country, Jock of the Bushveld, Heart of Darkness, Ghost and the Darkness, Power of One, Disgrace, Things Fall Apart, Circles in a Forest, Dark Star Safaris and I Dreamed of Africa.

Out of Africa : Karen Blixen

Out of Africa is probably one of the most popular memoirs of time spent in Africa. Written by Danish author Karen Blixen under the pseudonym Isak Dineson, Out of Africa is a real-life romance of Karen’s adventurous time on her 4 ooo acre coffee plantation in the foothills on the outskirts of Nairobi. The novel tributes those who impacted her life during her stay in East Africa and chronicles her time in Kenya, in a flamboyant and colourful manner. A true classic and window into colonial life during the reign of the British Empire. Out of Africa hit the big movie screens in the early 80s, making it one of the most recognised titles in the world.

Karen Blixen’s original home is now a museum and is located 10 km outside of the centre of Nairobi.

Stay : The Karen Blixen Coffee Garden and Cottages. This is a former farmhouse belonging to the Blixen family, a stone’s throw away from the museum and the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant and Rhino Orphanage.

Karen Blixen Kenya

Out of Africa - Karen Blixen

The Elephant Whisperer : Lawrence Anthony

The novel – The Elephant Whisperer – is set in the heart of South Africa’s safari kingdom, and became a bestseller within a short space of time. It’s an endearing novel of loyalty, love, conservation and mutual respect between man and pachyderm. Conservationist Lawrence Anthony accepted a herd of “rogue” elephants onto his private game reserve in Zululand (Thula Thula).

This herd were destined for the bullet, and Lawrence was their last chance of survival. He intervened and set out to create a bond with the herd, and documented his life with the elephants, detailing lives of wild elephants.

Interestingly enough, after Lawrence Anthony passed away, two herds of elephant approached his house to pay their respects.

Stay : Thula Thula Elephant Safari Lodge

The Elephant Whisperer Lawrence Anthony

Don’t Look Behind You (A Safari Guide’s Encounters with Ravenous Lions, Stampeding Elephants, and Lovesick Rhinos) – Peter Allison

A world-renown safari guide enchants us with a few hair-raising stories of what it’s really like to be a safari guide. His honest account of guiding, the challenges and being at the mercy of nature is informative and insightful. It’s not always glamorous, and is most certainly a risky career choice. Peter Allison thrives on adrenalin and lives for the unruly moments in the ‘veld. In this book you’ll find a number of personal accounts of unexpected and unpredicted moments in the wild. We’re talking leopards in his tent, spending a night in an acacia tree and other riveting tales.

Stay : Your experiences will be a lot “safer” than Peter Allison’s time in the wild; so anywhere in southern and east Africa will do.

Don't Look Behind You

Cry of the Kalahari – Mark and Delia Owens

Two budding zoologists, Mark and Delia Owens, headed to the unforgiving Kalahari Desert in Botswana to study wildlife. Their base for their 7 year stint? The vast Deception Valley in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Most of the wildlife they stumbled across had never seen humans before, and most certainly weren’t habituated to game viewers an vehicles. This autobiographical novel depicts the challenges and struggles of living in such a remote environment. In this classic autobiography you’ll uncover a world of wonder when it comes to the wildlife that the Owens were studying.

The Cry of the Kalahari refers to the echoing sounds of the night-stalkers howling into the depths of the night, in particular the local residents – the jackals.

Stay : Deception Valley Lodge in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This lodge will introduce you to the vastness of the area, and transport you right into the mind of the authors.

Cry of the Kalahari

My Life with the Chimpanzees – Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is probably one of the most recognised names in the world when it comes to conservation. Jane is world-renown anthropologist and primatologist known for her lengthy studies of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. Her motivation? She was handed a stuffed chimpanzee as a child, which started her early love of animals and – more specifically – chimps.

When Jane headed into the unchartered forests of Africa to observe wild chimpanzees she was faced with many dangers. She built relationships with the chimpanzee gangs, and documented her entire time spent with chimps. This autobiography teaches us all about her time in the jungles of Tanzania in Gombe Stream National Park. Jane Goodall is an advocate for animals, and her first novel was called “In the Shadow of Man”.

Stay : Gombe Forest Lodge  on the edge of Lake Tanganyika, a place that offers chimpanzee safaris in the forested area.

Jane Goodall Chimps

Gorillas in the Mist – Diane Fossey

Dian Fossey was an avid primatologist who wrote one of the most insightful and important books about primates – in particular the great apes of Africa. Her work in the natural world made such an impact that a movie was made about her experience in the rain forests.

Diane Fossey spent 13 years in the rain forests of Rwanda, studying the primates on a daily basis. The book is full of Fossey’s own close-up images, accounts of interactions and her efforts to ensure a good future for the wild mountain gorillas. In a cruel twist of fate, Fossey was murdered. Despite this, Gorillas in the Mist remains one of the most valuable studies of primates.

Stay : To see the wild mountain gorillas of Rwanda we urge you to stay at the incredible Singita Kwitondo Lodge .

Gorillas In The Mist

Born Free – Joy Adamson

In Joy Adamson’s book she describes her adventures and experiences raising a lion club called Elsa. Husband and wife team, Joy and George, worked at a national park in Kenya and adopted 3 orphaned lion cubs. 2 of the older cubs were shipped off to a zoo, while the youngest remained in the company of the Adamson’s home in Kenya. Years later the book was made into an Academy Award-winning film.

Stay : Stay anywhere in the famed national parks of Kenya.

Born Free Lions

Green Hills of Africa – Ernest Hemingway 

In 1935, famous writer Ernest Hemingway spent a month on safari in east Africa with his wife. His time on safari inspired his creativity, and thus the fictional “Green Hills of Africa” was born. Interestingly enough, none of the characters are actually fictional. Part journal, part fiction, this classic novel is worth a read. An evocative and lyrical journey into the mind of one of the world’s greatest literary geniuses.

Stay : Stay anywhere in the famed national parks of Kenya.

Green Hills of Africa - Ernest Hemingway