The best books to read on an African safari

Who am I?

I'm an Australian who fell in love with Africa in my 30s. I've now written 20 thrillers set in Africa and several non-fiction biographies. My wife and I have travelled extensively on the continent and now spend at least half our lives in Africa, and the remainder in Australia. I'm passionate about Africa's people, wildlife, and fragile natural environment. While my books focus on some of the continent's problems – especially the illegal trade in wildlife – I'm a sucker for a happy ending and find no shortage of positive, inspirational people on my travels who serve as the inspiration for the good guys and girls in my stories. 

I wrote...

Blood Trail

By Tony Park,

Book cover of Blood Trail

What is my book about?

Evil is at play in a South African game reserve. A rhino poacher vanishes into thin air, defying logic, and baffling ace tracker Mia Greenaway. Meanwhile, Captain Sannie van Rensburg is investigating the disappearance of two young girls who locals fear have been abducted for use in sinister traditional medicine practices.

But poachers are also employing witchcraft, paying healers for potions they believe will make them invisible. When a tourist goes missing, Mia and Sannie must work together to confront their own demons - which challenges everything they believe in - while following a bloody trail that seems to vanish at every turn.

The books I picked & why

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Hold My Hand I'm Dying

By John Gordon Davis,

Book cover of Hold My Hand I'm Dying

Why this book?

This was the first novel I read about Africa and one of the first 'grown-up' books I was allowed to read as a young teen. It had a huge impact on me. At the time, growing up in Australia, I didn't know I'd end up living in Africa and writing about the continent, but this book moved me. Set in the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), it's a thriller and love story told against the background of a tumultuous struggle for a country. When I first visited Zimbabwe for real it was like I'd been there already – I had, through the pages of this moving story.


By Deon Meyer, K.L. Seefers (translator),

Book cover of Fever

Why this book?

South African author Deon Meyer is, in my opinion, the best crime writer in the world. Most of his books are detective stories set in Cape Town, but Fever was a radical departure for him. As an author, I know how important it is for me to keep myself engaged and interested in my writing and not become stale. Deon shook up his readership with this tale of a fictional pandemic (written before Covid 19) and its impact on South Africa. Brilliant and scary and top marks to Deon for leaping out of his comfort zone.

Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide

By Peter Allison,

Book cover of Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide

Why this book?

I know Peter – we josh each other and trade funny insults on social media. I hate to say it, but he is a very funny guy. Safari guide memoirs are a dime a dozen in Africa, but this one stands out from the pack because it is both humorous and moving. Peter has a wonderful self-deprecating style and tells, hilariously, of some of his epic failures as a young Australian finding his way in the African bush. Peter loves Botswana, and his passion shines through in this book.

The Dark of the Sun

By Wilbur Smith,

Book cover of The Dark of the Sun

Why this book?

I'm sometimes compared to the late, great, Wilbur Smith, who wrote dozens of books set in Africa. I think that if there is a similarity, then my books are probably most like Wilbur's earlier novels, where he tended to write about contemporary southern Africa (as I do now). My favourites were his stand-alone novels, including The Dark of the Sun about a group of mercenaries who have to rescue a train load of civilians during the fighting in the former Belgian Congo in the 1960s. It was made into a movie back in the day (The Mercenaries), and later provided the inspiration for the Bruce Willis film, Tears of the Sun.

The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa

By Douglas Rogers,

Book cover of The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa

Why this book?

Douglas Rogers, a Zimbabwean journalist living in the US, tells the true story of how his elderly parents survived a harrowing period in the African country's history when former President Robert Mugabe's supporters were invading and claiming white-owned farms. Rather than fleeing, Rogers' parents transformed their backpackers' lodge into a have for a wildlife disparate group of hookers, spies, soldiers, and refugees. It's hilarious and harrowing and proof that in Africa, truth is stranger than fiction! By the way, Zimbabwe is now a beautiful, peaceful country to visit and an excellent safari destination.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Zimbabwe, safaris, and survivalism?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Zimbabwe, safaris, and survivalism.

Zimbabwe Explore 9 books about Zimbabwe
Safaris Explore 6 books about safaris
Survivalism Explore 10 books about survivalism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, We Need New Names, and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood if you like this list.