Africa books to read in lockdown

April 8th 2020  |   Travel, Unique Experiences  |  by   Charlotte Opperman
Africa books to read in lockdown

With all manner of eccentric characters and exotic wildlife, Africa has provided rich content for writers past and present. Whether you enjoy fiction, biography or auto-biography there’ll be something to pique your interest and transport you to another world.  Here’s a quick look at some favourites among our team:

Jess suggests: Don’t Run, Whatever You Do; Peter Allison
Un-put-downable stories of mishaps and fiascos from a guide’s life in the bush. My particular favourite is when he gets a little cocky about his driving skills and ends up sinking a car in the Okavango Delta, having to run through the bush back to the camp to get help.

Alice suggests: Twenty Chickens for a Saddle; Robyn Scott
This enchanting tale about growing up in Botswana had me laughing out loud. It’s gentle, funny and beautifully written.

Enjoying some down time at Serengeti Safari Camp, Tanzania

Lucinda suggests: Sheltering Desert; Henno Martin
An extraordinary tale of survival in the Namib Desert during WWII. The harsh desert conditions are perfectly captured and once visited, it’s almost impossible to imagine how anyone could last as long as they did out there. A wonderful example of the will to survive and I am in awe of the sheer strength of character they must have had.

Charlotte suggests: An African Love Story: Love, Life and Elephants; Daphne Sheldrick
This best-selling story of romance, life and elephants is an incredible tale from one of Africa’s greatest conservationists. Heart-warming and spellbinding, a wonderfully vivid picture of a remarkable woman, her love of Africa, its wildlife and elephants in particular.

Relaxing at Khwai Tented Camp, Botswana

Francis suggests: The Tree Where Man Was Born; Peter Matthiessen
A beautiful, sensitive, eloquent evocation of northern Tanzania in the days before it became famous. Charting time spent ambling across what is now the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation area in a Land Rover with Bernhard Grzimek and others who were already working hard to protect this incredible land for the future.

Richard suggests: Savannah Diaries; Brian Jackman
No other writer brings the bush alive for me in the way Brian Jackman can. Reading Brian’s articles, which are compiled together in this book, allows me to vicariously enjoy the smells, sounds and life of the African savannah.

Becky suggests: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency; Alexander McCall Smith
The first in a series of books telling the story of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s first female detective. Delightfully funny and engaging, I instantly warmed to the characters and became engrossed in the cases as they unravelled. In her quest to solve many mysteries, Mma Ramotswe makes some interesting and often humorous observations on the faults of men, her passion for gender equality and her love for Botswana and its people.

Enjoying the peace at Kaya Mawa, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Jo suggests: Don’t let’s go to the Dogs Tonight, and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness; Alexandra Fuller
Two lovely memoirs of life growing up in Africa.  Fuller manages to encapsulate the stories so vividly, with twists of humour and irony.

For children: Hot Hippo, Crafty Chameleon, Tricky Tortoise; Mwenye Hadithi
Funny illustrated books which are almost fables about African animals. Anyone who has read to their kids will know the horror of books they want read to them time and time again, but I (Richard) never felt that with these as they are so engaging.

Others you might like to try:
The Elephant Whisperer; Lawrence Anthony
Exciting and hugely inspiring novel about trying to protect a herd of elephants.
The Africa House; Christina Lamb
Set in what was Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and a wonderful tale of an eccentric Brit who chose to build a mansion in the middle of nowhere. It’s a riveting read.

What next?

If any of these have inspired you to dream about future safaris, please do get in touch – we would be delighted to chat, no matter how early in the decision making process you might be. Email is probably the best way to contact us right now and we’ll respond as quickly as we can – usually on the same day.  We very much look forward to talking to you.

7 responses to “Africa books to read in lockdown”

  1. Wendy Dockery says:

    Thank you. Travel writing esp about Africa is my passion.
    I’ve travelled to South Africa Botswana and Zimbabwe. Looking forward to going to Tanzania and Kenya sometime in the future.

  2. Mervyn Dyer says:

    A couple of books on your list I haven’t read but will go on the Christmas list. All of Alexandra Fullers African books are exceptional. Tim Butcher is another great, modern writer on Africa. Blood River and Chasing the Devil are both excellent. For straight, easy to read history try Martin Meredith. There are so many more I could mention. Have you read John Le Carre ‘The Constant Gardener’ or ‘The Mission Song’? What about ‘Petals of Blood’ by Ngugi wa Thiog’o ‘ while I am thinking fiction? I could bore you for hours over the braai or the camp fire!
    Stay well.

    • Richard Smith says:

      No need to wait until Christmas – the independent bookshops are ready and waiting now! Thanks for your suggestions which the team here will go and find.

  3. Wendy MacFadyen says:

    On my last visit to Cape Town, (2018) I found a fantastic book shop down Long Street where I purchased the following books :-The Elephant Whisperer, The Last Rhino and There’s an Elephant in my Kitchen, all of which were good reads, beautifully written and really did bring back the sights sounds and smells of the African Bush when I’m so far away..

  4. Liz says:

    Can I add The Cry of The Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens. A fascinating account of two young American zoologists who spent years in the Kalahari researching hyena.

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