Reading Suggestions for East Africa

Reading good books about the areas you’re visiting tends to make your trip much fuller and more rewarding. As weight on light aircraft is limited, you might consider reading the thickest books before you leave for your trip!

The major country-specific guidebooks (i.e., Lonely Planet, Rough Guide) tend to offer a good overview of the country’s history. One of the best resources for travel books is Longitude Books. They organize books by country/region, which makes it easy to see what is available.

Many wonderful books on East Africa have been written. Here are just a few suggestions:


  • I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallmann. A memoir of an Italian woman’s experiences in Kenya. Highly personal, filled with tragedy and magic. Beautifully written descriptions of the Kenyan landscape. It has been made into a movie.
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. Arriving in Kenya in 1914, Karen Blixen shares her experiences over nearly 20 years in East Africa. It’s a classic read and was made into a wonderful movie.
  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham. A beautifully written autobiography of her life in Kenya in the early 1900s. Highly recommended.


  • Various books by Dale Read provide enjoyable tales about life in the bush: Barefoot over the Serengeti; Beating About the Bush; Another Load of Bull
  • An Ice Cream War by William Boyd
  • Born Wild by Tony Fitzjohn
  • Darwin’s Dreampond: Drama on Lake Victoria by Tijs Goldschmidt
  • Life in the Footsteps of the Great Explorers by Kingsley Holgate; a blend of travelogue and history as he follows the paths of early African explorers. His “Cape to Cairo” chronicles take him through E. Africa and along the coast.
  • Paradis by Abdulrazak Gurnah. The story is set in colonial East Africa during the First World War and was short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction.


  • The Serengeti Shall Not Die by Bernhard Grzimek; German nature documentary made in 1959; winner of the Academy Award for documentary feature
  • A Panther in Africa by Peter OÂ’Neil; the story of one of the original Black Panthers who fled from the US to Tanzania and still lives there today; synopsis:





Fiction set in East Africa

  • Hemingway Classics: Green Hills of Africa and The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories

Travel Narratives

  • The Shadow of Kilimanjaro, On Foot Across East Africa by Rick Ridgeway
  • Dark Star Safaris by Paul Theroux; Theroux takes readers on an adventure over the length of Africa by rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train.


  • The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham. A well written, meticulously researched history of the Vicotorian land grab in Africa.
  • Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard.  A well researched, engrossing tale of Henry Stanley’s search for the missionary and explorer David Livingstone.
  • Battle for the Bundu by Charles Millar


  • The Safari Companion, A Guide to Watching African Mammals by Richard Estes. An invaluable encyclopedic guide to AfricaÂ’s mammals by a noted scientist. Estes describes 100 large African mammals: their diet, habitats and behavior. Written with the typical safari-goer in mind and including black-and-white drawings.
  • Wildlife of East Africa by Martin B. Withers and David Hosking. A compact guide to 475 common species of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, trees and flowers of East Africa. Designed for the field, the guide features full-color photographs with detailed descriptions of each species on facing pages. With a map covering parks and reserves of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and an introductory chapter with Safari information.


Africa Geographic Safari Interactive (Africa Geographic’s interactive travel magazine; read through current and past issues)

Africa Geographic Blogs (Great for reading in between issues! Search by topics of interest / includes Safari Interactive Magazine Blog & Africa Geographic Magazine Blog.)

The Wonder of Elephants (Getaway Magazine)

Where the Wild Things Aren’t  (Conde Nast Traveler)

The Pulse of the People

The African Elephant – Gardeners of the Savannah

African Lion- Unmatched Charisma in the Wild

African Wildlife – Mammals

Cheetah Fun Facts

The African Elephant – the Real King of the Jungle

Elephants at Large

Elephants Revisited (Part 1)

Elephants Revisited (Part 2)

On Native Ground

Record Breaking African Birds

Where Have All The Lions Gone?

Between Two Oceans

The Big Cats of East Africa: Unrivaled Charisma in the Wild

Doctor Finds Higher Calling When Death Knocks

Hippos- Heavyweights of Africa’s Waterworld

The Maasai

The Great Wildebeest Migration

The Primates of East Africa: Calling for More Respect for Mans Closest Kin

The Maasai East Africa’s Most Celebrated Indigenous Peoples


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