Because we are all about making your life easy, we have compiled a list of the MUST reads for any Africa overland tour. We read dozens of them – here are the top 10 in no particular order!
Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux
Dark Star Safari is an insightful book covering the author’s journey from Cairo to Cape Town by train, dugout canoe, “chicken bus,” and cattle truck.
Africa on a Shoe String – Lonely Planet
If you have to have a guide book this one is as good as any. Ignore the prices and times for everything local, but the boxed texts and history sections are very interesting. WARNING: In the interests of your health do not quote “but the lonely planet says….” to your overland tour leader if you want to live a long happy life.
Mandela, Mobutu, and Me: A Newswoman’s African Journey – by Lynne Duke
Duke’s perceptive book covers some of the bloodier southern Africa post-colonial wars as well as the growth of the new South African post apartheid government. Her interviews with Mandela and Mobutu rest alongside even more eye-opening conversations with ‘normal people’. “A consummate journalist, Duke gives readers concise but thorough background briefings on a country’s relevant history before cutting to the chase: who’s taken control now, why, and what that means for the balance of power”. (Amazon.com)
Africa Overland – Lizzy Williams
A definitive book about overland truck journeys in Africa written by a Overland Tour Leader (who now writes travel guide books for some of the best publishers in the world). A good look at Africa from an overland tour itinerary perspective which covers almost all the locations, activities and highlights still available on the road today. Throw in some ‘campfire stories’ and you have an excellent look at what to expect on your overland travels.
Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller
A look at Africa through the eyes of a child – this fantastic book details the childhood of a white African kid surviving in Rhodesia during the civil war (1971-1979). Loading, cleaning and shooting a gun was standard, living with land mines, ambushes, war and wild animals was just a normal day. Land redistribution, racism, segregation, and hardship are subjects not ‘swept under the mat’ in this book and it is one of the best books I have ever read. Basically it captures the thoughts of a small person in her small world witnessing a huge historic event.
Truck Fever – Manchan Magan
An interesting and laugh-out-loud-funny look at a man’s travels from London to Nairobi. Stuck with all sorts of annoying and strange people (including posh private schoolgirls, an Army torturer, and a guy who says he was abducted by aliens), Truck Fever is an insider look at group dynamics both good and bad. An interesting read for anyone looking to try group travel.
Long Way Down – Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
From the north of Scotland to the bottom of Africa, 2 bikes, 15,000 miles, 5 shock absorbers, a whole lot of sand and not much tar, in the toughest terrain in the world. A journey across West, North, East and Southern Africa by 2 actors/bike enthusiasts on a personal mission to travel Africa as well as assist at UNICEF projects along the way. They may have had a full support crew in tow but these guys rode every hard mile themselves. An honest look at the challenges they faced – both personal and environmental.
Looking for Lovedu – By Ann Jones
A beat up old Landrover carries the author and her colleague, photographer Kevin Muggleton, across Africa in search of the legendary Lovedu tribe – ruled by a great rainmaking Queen dedicated to the ideals of compromise, tolerance and peace. This perceptive, sometime hilarious trek sees them stuck in everything from mud to deep sand, dealing with corrupt officials and they even get offered a baby to keep!
Swahili For The Broken-Hearted – By Peter Moore
After splitting with the girlfriend, Peter takes to the African roads to ‘find himself’. His journey from Cape Town to Cairo by any means possible is a humorous and adventurous trek and the characters he met along the way will have you laughing out loud.
The State of Africa – By Martin Meredith
An interesting read about the African characters and local history of the last 50 years or so, rolled up into an interesting and objective narrative. Amazom.com says “Martin Meredith has produced the definitive history of how European ideas of how to organise 10,000 different ethnic groups has led to what Tony Blair described as the ’scar on the conscience of the world’.” History buffs will love it.
For info see the team at OverlandingAfrica.com or post your comments below.