REVIEW OF FIELD GUIDES, TRAVEL GUIDES &
REFERENCE BOOKS: SOUTHERN & EAST AFRICA
V2.3 Oct '99
- Snakes and other reptiles
- Insects, spiders and butterflies
- Hiking and back-packing
- Game Parks and nature reserves
- General travel guides
- South Africa
Mammal field guides
Land Mammals of Southern Africa: a field guide by Reay Smithers (Macmillan) 229 pages. If you're going to buy only one mammal field guide for southern Africa, it may as well be this one. Based on the late Reay Smithers' comprehensive mammal handbook, this excellent little guide, delightfully illustrated by artist Clare Abbott, covers 197 land mammal species most likely to be seen, with clear distribution maps. Scholarly and accurate, yet concise, this book is interesting and very readable. A revised edition of this book - co-ordinated by Peter Apps - is now available.
Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa by Chris and Tilde Stuart (2nd edition Struik 1993). A good companion to the above field guide. The Stuarts' book, which is copiously illustrated with an excellent array of photographs, and clear distribution maps, also contains a section on marine mammals.
Southern, Central and East African Mammals: A Photographic Guide by Chris & Tilde Stuart, 1992. This well-illustrated, compact guide suffers from inadequate research: the selection of mammals & the reserves in which they can be seen is inconsistent.
Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa by Dorst & Dandelot. 1990.
Collins Field Guide to Mammals of Africa including Madagascar (Haltenorth & Diller, 1992).
Rowland Ward's Pocket Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa by S.J. Smith (Rowland Ward Publications1992.) A useful hard-cover field guide which illustrates the larger mammals and some of the smaller species that you may encounter when traveling through Africa's national parks and game reserves. Covers the entire continent.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife by Peter Alden, Richard Estes, Duane Schlitter and Bunny McBride (New York: Knopf, 1995) The only guide to include mammals, reptiles, insects and birds throughout the entire continent. Color photographs, detailed descriptions of 480 species, country and range maps.
Field Guide to the Mammals of the Kruger National Park by U de V Pienaar et al (Struik 1987). A thoroughly readable, yet scientifically correct work with good species descriptions, containing often fascinating accounts of social behavior and ecological factors. The many photographs, pleasing layout and very useful distribution maps indicating both range and relative density in a particular region, make this an excellent choice for Kruger Park visitors.
Mammal reference works
Mammals of the Southern African Subregion by J.D. Skinner and R.H.N. Smithers. This comprehensive revised edition of Smithers' 1983 book on area mammals is still the standard reference work. A mammoth 771 pages long, weighing some 8 pounds, it covers the 47 families of mammals found in the region with an introduction to each order and family, followed by detailed information on each species. Illustrated with 38 new color plates by Dick Findlay & numerous black & white illustrations.
The Behavior Guide to African Mammals by Richard Estes. (University of California Press 1991 (hard cover) 1992 (paperback). A more detailed version of Estes' Safari Companion, this book is on the heavy side, but considered by many to be the best African mammal guide.
Wild Ways: A Field Guide to the Behavior of Southern African Mammals by Peter Apps. (Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg, 1992) A good companion guide to 'Land Mammals'. The reader is provided with detailed information on the behavior of 117 species ranging from hedgehogs and hares to whales and elephants. The introductory chapters on ethology - the science of animal behavior - make worthwhile reading for any would-be visitor to Africa. Accurate and useful.
The Safari Companion - A Guide to Watching African Mammals by Richard D Estes. illustrated by Daniel Otte, (Russell Friedman Books, JHB 1993) This book has been described as the tool to make us all instant experts in animal behavior, and it should quickly assert itself as the principal reference on animal behavior for game rangers, safari guides and nature lovers. The book will enable safari-goers to recognize and understand interesting behavioral displays such as courtship rituals, territorial marking, aggression and care of young. Only recommended for serious naturalists, as the book is heavy on detail, much of it presented in 'hard -to-digest' scientific format, with frequent use of symbols and icons.
Watching Wildlife: a comprehensive guide to watching wildlife in southern Africa by Dave Harris (Mtunzini, Trogon Books 1995). David Bristow (Getaway June 1995) describes this as ideal reading for people intending to visit a game reserve, explaining how to better appreciate animal behavior. "For me the heart of the book is the list of reserves, what is special about them and where specifically you can see certain species - often rare and shy ones such as the Palmnut Vulture and Angola Pitta."
A Field Guide to the Animal Tracks of Southern Africa by Louis Liebenberg. The first section of this intriguing book explains how to identify and interpret spoor and how to master the basics of tracking. The second section contains a field guide with sections on the invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals of the sub-continent. In addition to accurate illustrations of spoor drawn from the field, the author provides distribution maps, detailed entries describing prominent features and general information on the animals. In trying to do all this, the book loses focus. Paperback, 256 pp.
A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern and East African Wildlife by Chris and Tilde Stuart (Johannesburg: Southern Book Publishers). Unlike other books on the subject, which list animals in taxonomic order, this field guide enables one to identify spoor by using a series of keys. By making use of simple drawings, one determines whether a sing falls into one of 12 basic categories, ranging from paws without claws through webbed feet to undulating track without footmarks. From there a page with specific groupings and comparative drawings helps you to determine the possible species according to size. "This key leads to an informative section complete with photographs, drawings and descriptions which should help to single out those quizzical pug-marks in the sand", according to reviewer Patrick Wagner (Getaway Magazine, May 1995). The same system applies to droppings and dung as well as nests and shelters. Separate chapters deal with feedings signs, as well as other specific signs such as scent-marking, shed skin, hair and feathers. Wagner says that the book "...must rate as one of the top field guides of its kind and should take its place next to any wildlife enthusiast's bird and tree guides."
Bird-watching field guides
Newman's Birds of Southern Africa by Ken Newman; Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg 1992. This is a 'must have' field guide for the southern African sub-region for beginning to intermediate bird-watchers. The illustrations are generally good (some earlier, less successful ones have been updated) and the text can only be described as brilliant. Relevant diagnostic features and behavior beautifully summarized in about 100 words per species, with useful distribution maps on the same page. The revised, expanded edition contains a handy color-coded 'quick-find' guide; has large, easily readable page numbers and the English index right at the back of the book. Indispensable, especially for first-time visitors to the area.
In a review of the new 'Green Edition' Keith Barnes (Africa, Birds & Birding 1996) says that the most important addition "...is the inclusion of underwing flight illustrations of raptors, and flight illustrations of crakes." He is somewhat critical of the distribution maps ('not entirely up to date') and suggests that "supplementary information and illustrations concerning non-breeding, worn eclipse and juvenile plumage be added to bring Newman's into the big league of modern field guides." However, Barnes concludes that he regards the Newman text "as the best field guide text available on the market today. (It) is succinct, yet sufficiently detailed to appropriately highlight the relevant identification features."
SASOL Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair et al (Struik 1993). The most comprehensively illustrated field guide for the region. Good for 'difficult' groups such as birds of prey, shorebirds, terns, larks and cisticolas. Unfortunately, the quality of illustrations and color reproduction is inconsistent. The text reads easily, and diagnostic features are given first, in italics. Not much here on habitat, behavior and so on, but for identification purposes this book is excellent and it is recommended for intermediate to advanced birders.
SASOL Larger Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair and Phil Hockey (Struik 1996). A revamped, improved version of the smaller-format Sasol Birds of Southern Africa. A very useful if somewhat heavy field guide, illustrating all of the more than 900 species currently recognized as occurring within Southern Africa. Color coding and quick reference guide to the various birds families make it an excellent choice even for beginners. Compared with the original SASOL field-guide (1993) this volume shows many improvements. The distribution maps have been updated and are easier to read due to the use of color; the annoying background clutter on p 59 has been removed; the flower which seems to grow out of the back of the Hottentot Teal (p 79) has likewise been painted out. There are additional illustrations such as Tawny Eagle in flight on page 93; newly split species such as Schalow's Lourie have been included (p 224) and there are other corrections such as to the illustration of the Mottled Spinetail (p 245) and the previously switched captions for the Crombecs on page 331.
However, the only major revisions are the illustrations from page 373 to 379 - mostly sunbirds - which were re-done by Peter Hayman, and the replacement of Simon Barlow's illustrations (sparrows and weavers) from page 381 to 387. The book has three new plates which illustrate 13 recent additions to the Southern African list, and it also includes a new chapter on identifying problem species, being Jackal/Augur Buzzard, small and medium-sized Sparrowhawks and Goshawks, Montagu's and Pallid Harrier, Peregrine and Lanner Falcon, Karoo/Red/Dune/Barlow's Lark, Willow/Garden/Icterine & Olivetree Warblers, African Marsh/European Marsh & European Reed Warblers, Great Reed and Basra Reed Warblers, Blackbacked, Chirping and Levaillant's Cisticola, Fantailed, Desert, Cloud, Ayres' and Palecrowned Cisticola, the large brown Pipits, the glossy Starlings and female and non-breeding 'yellow' Weavers.
SASOL Birds of Southern Africa: Checklist & Alternative Names, compiled by P.A.R. Hockey. This slim companion volume to the Sasol guide, which is also cross-referenced to Sinclair, Newman and Roberts, is very handy for keeping a list of birds seen in the southern African sub-continent. Unfortunately its abundance scale - a system of small, intermediate and large dots denoting the relative ease with which a particular species can be seen in any month - suffers from the dots being confusingly similarly sized. One of the book's best features is a section containing alternative names. The list of alternative names for Red Bishop, for example, is Southern Red Bishop, Crimson Weaver, Orix Bishop, Grenadier Weaver, Red Grenadier, Crimson Grenadier & Scarlet Grenadier. This will be appreciated by visitors who may have birded elsewhere in Africa previously, or intend doing so, or who may have outdated editions of field guides.
Birds of Southern Africa : The Sasol Plates Collection by Hayman, Arlott & Tarboton. Struik Winchester 1994. The color plates from the Sasol field guide - with several revisions - were recently published separately in a magnificent large format book. The excellent illustrations, showcased at their original size, are accompanied by a series of essays on birds written by well-known South African ornithologist Warwick Tarboton. Tarboton's text reads easily and provides a wealth of interesting information which would never have survived the space restrictions of a field guide.
Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa edited by Gordon McLean (6th Edition, John Voelcker Bird Book Fund 1993). The perfect companion to Newman's or the Sasol field guide. Detailed species descriptions, including available data on distribution, status, habitat, food and breeding, as well as sonagrams. The 6th edition has new color plates for the flycatchers and prinias, complete revisions for 12 species, 16 new species, and updated information for about 60 per cent of the species. The color-coded distribution maps (the use of pale yellow for 'summer visitors' is annoying) have been updated with information from the massive Southern African Bird Atlas Project, but inconsistencies remain.
Identification keys are now grouped together before the color plates, making them much more useful in the field. Roberts remains the only book to contain the vital statistics of southern African birds and presents great value for money. Note that this book is rather bulky and on the heavy side to be considered a bona fide field guide. Bird descriptions and plates are not on facing pages, making quick identification difficult, to say the least. I also do not like the overcrowded appearance of the plates. It is still the bible of southern African birding, however, so take one along in your suitcase or duffel bag.
Field Companion to Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa (John Voelcker Bird Book Fund 1996) by Gordon Lindsay Maclean. A compact 184-page small-format book for use in the field as a companion to Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. It has a minimum of text and some helpful identification keys, to take into the field and use as a quick guide to bird identification. Descriptions are of adult birds only.
Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa (Struik, 1992). 368 pp. This is the best-selling field guide of any available for southern Africa, and a boon for beginners and those unfamiliar with the area. Experienced birders who prefer photographs over illustrations will also enjoy this book. For those of us who favor paintings, it is nevertheless nice to have; the kind of book one browses through after a day's birding, checking to see what one's new lifers 'really' look like. The book is also useful for preparing for a field trip. Sinclair is southern Africa's foremost birder and his extensive field experience shows in his species descriptions. Where Newman and McLean will sometimes waffle on about identification, Sinclair homes in on the obvious distinguishing features.
Birds of Botswana by Ken Newman (Southern 1989). Although not essential, as all the Botswana species are covered in Newman's Birds of Southern Africa', I highly recommend the book for visitors to Botswana, especially the Okavango Delta. The species accounts, although largely identical to 'Birds of Southern Africa', contain many useful references to specific areas in Botswana, as well as to factors peculiar to the area such as the mid-winter flooding of the Delta. Several of the illustrations and species descriptions, such as the ones for Shortclawed Lark and Whitefronted Plover, are updated, improved versions compared with earlier Newman books.
Birds of Malawi by Kenneth Newman, Nigel Johnston-Stewart and Bob Medland (Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg 1992). This long-awaited guide is a good supplement to Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. It features full descriptions, color illustrations and distribution maps of the 64 Malawi species not known to birders south of the Zambezi, as well as a further 10 subspecies so different from those elsewhere in southern Africa that they warrant illustration in the guide. It also has a comprehensive annotated check-list of Malawi's 649 species, with notes on status, range, occurrence in national Parks, localities and habitats. A 'must have' for birders bound for Malawi.
A Photographic Guide to Birds of Namibia by Ian and Jackie Sinclair. In a review by Peter Ryan (Africa Birds & Birding 1996) this pocket-sized photographic field guide is described as being targeted for the casual birdwatcher, and not providing comprehensive coverage of the region's birds.
Common Birds of Zambia by D Aspinwall et al, Zambian Ornithological Society, 1990. As 'common' bird books go, this one is about as good as they can be. The 12 color plates illustrating 111 species are adequate, but not outstanding. Illustrating birds of markedly different size - such as a Hamerkop and a Spotted Creeper - on the same plate without any indication of scale is confusing, according to reviewer R.K. Brooke. Includes a complete list of the 732 birds accepted as occurring in Zambia.
Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Dale Zimmerman, Don Turner and David Pearson. (Princeton University Press, 1996) This long-awaited field guide is a mammoth work which will no doubt quickly become an essential purchase for serious bird-watchers en route to East Africa. Detailed species accounts and clear, no-nonsense distribution maps will end much of the guess-work hitherto surrounding the hundreds of species not illustrated in the Collins guide. It is a pity that the 124 rather crowded color plates are grouped together, and that birds' illustrations could not have been placed on pages facing the relevant descriptions, as is the case with almost all the highly rated field guides for southern African birds. Grouping the color plates together was no doubt a cost-saving measure, but at around US$65 the book is expensive anyway, and it would have been infinitely more useful with illustrations & descriptions in closer proximity. Zimmerman's illustrations are of uneven quality, many reminding the writer of the rather 'old-fashioned' Norman Leighton illustrations used in much earlier editions of Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. The brief notes opposite each illustration, which emphasize diagnostic features and include a "...distributional or ecological statement to facilitate identification", are very useful. Two minor points of criticism are the use of black-and-white photographs to illustrate the range of vegetation and bird habitats in the area, and the placement of the English index, which belongs in the very back of the book. There are no sonagrams.
Collins Illustrated Checklist: Birds of Eastern Africa by Ber Van Perlo. (HarperCollins, 1995) Nearly 1500 species illustrated in color, 85 pages of range maps, minimal text. This very useful book covers Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia. The first field guide to provide color illustrations of all the species of this region.
Collins Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa by J E Williams & N Arlott, 1992. This pocket-sized, hard-cover field guide which has 48 color plates with more than 650 illustrations is currently the best guide to the birds of East Africa. This - and the Collins Guide to West Africa - have been described as "... good introductions to the regions, but frustrating to use because only selected species are illustrated and the texts cover no more than the basics." The book covers Ethiopia south to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Collins Field Guide to the Birds of West Africa by W Serle, G.J. Morel and W Hartwig. Covers the 'hump' of Africa from Mauritania to the Congo and east to Chad and Central African Republic. Also the Cape Verde Islands and the islands in the Gulf of Guinea.
Birds of the Kruger National Park by Ken Newman (Southern 1987). Very useful for visitors to the Kruger National Park, although I treasure my old (1980) first edition, which contains distribution maps for uncommon species. The revised edition is obviously more complete with 38 new sightings having been added (476 species versus 438 in the first Ed). Distribution is adequately covered in the text. This book uses many of the same illustrations used in Mr. Newman's 'Birds of Southern Africa', and the same is true for his 'Birds of Botswana'.
Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park by Ian Sinclair & Ian Whyte. Covers each of the 500 species of birds known to occur in the Kruger National Park by means of one or more generally excellent color photographs, with very useful accompanying field text. This is a 'must have' if you're planning to spend more than just a couple of days in the park. Includes an excellent guide to good birding spots in the KNP, with some accurate, pinpoint directions, amongst others for African Finfoot, Redwinged Pratincole, Mottled Spinetail, Broadbilled Roller, Horus Swift and European Hobby. It also has a more than useful feature on the identification of birds of prey. The distribution maps are practically redundant because so many of them are identical (for species that may be expected 'anywhere' in the park).
Hwange Birds by Peter Steyn (Longman, Harare). A popular guide to the birds of Zimbabwe's largest game reserve, with color photographs of the 80 most commonly encountered species. Contains details of habitat zones and where to find various species.
Guide to the Birds of Madagascar by Olivier Langrand (Yale University Press). Reviewer Patrick Wagner says that Frenchman Langrand's well-researched book is much more than simply a guide to the birds of Madagascar. There are chapters covering habitats, migration, recommended birding sites, taxonomy and birds likely to occur, but not yet reported from the island. The guide to individual species is detailed, accurate and easy to read and each species is illustrated in water-color. The book covers 256 species of which 201 are resident, 105 are endemic and 25 are endemic to the whole Malagasy region.
Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands by Ian Sinclair and Olivier Langrand (Struik, 1998). The first comprehensive guide to the birds of Madagascar, the Seychelles group, the Comoros and thte Mascarenes (comprising Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues). This excellent field-guide, which has clear distribution maps facing illustrations, covers 359 regularly encountered species, many of them endemic to the area.
Top Birding Spots in Southern Africa by Hugh Chittenden. More than 100 top birding spots in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland are covered on an easy-to-use north to south basis. Each entry accompanied by a good map and directions, notes on local specials, and checklists of birds likely to be seen during a brief visit. Endemics & near-endemics are highlighted, making this guide especially useful to foreign birders.
Where to Watch Birds in Africa by Nigel Wheatly. Reviewer Phil Hockey (Africa Birds & Birding 1996) says that the book is "an excellent volume for making a first-tier decision about 'where to go in Africa on a birding holiday' and provides further reading to get one started in the planning stages." A typical entry, such as the one for Botswana, doesn't have much 'meat' to it and indicates that including the entire African continent in one volume may have been an overly ambitious undertaking.
Go Birding in the Transvaal by Brendan Ryan & John Isom. This is the book you will wish you had read before you went birding anywhere in the Transvaal. This deceptively slender volume is packed with practical advice for successful birding in this bird-rich province. Features a comprehensive index/checklist of the 639 accepted species recorded in the Transvaal and the best sites where they may be expected to occur. Clear maps accompany each entry ensuring the birder will have no difficulty finding the site. Softcover, 160 pages, black & white illustrations.
Birdwatch Zimbabwe by Derek Solomon and Jacko Williams (Birds of a Feather, Zimbabwe 1993). Lists 77 prime birding sites in Zimbabwe, how to get there & facilities offered. Essential reference material for visiting birders.
Where to Watch Birds in Kenya by Raymond Moore, 1984. This useful guide is arranged alphabetically, listing many good sites with maps and useful information.
Bird reference works & photographic collections
The Birds of Africa, Vol. I to IV, (Academic Press). For birders with a wider interest in African birds the first four volumes of the definitive work of reference on Afrotropical birds are highly recommended. These detailed, beautifully illustrated books are not for everyone, though. The species accounts can be rather daunting in length and complexity, representing, as they do, virtually all that was known of the various species at the time of publication. At around $200 or so per volume, this is a big investment for what may be an infrequently used reference work. However, every serious student of African birds would like to have these four (and the two or three volumes to follow) on the home shelf :
The Birds of Africa Vol. I, Ostrich to Falcons.
The Birds of Africa Vol. II, Gamebirds to Pigeons.
The Birds of Africa Vol. III, Parrots to Woodpeckers.
The Birds of Africa Vol. IV, Broadbills to Chats.
The Complete book of Southern African Birds by Peter Ginn et al (Struik Winchester 1989). A magnum opus. Simply a superb book on the birds of Southern Africa. All but a handful of species are illustrated with color photographs of which only one or two can be faulted. The reproduction on quality paper makes for 'true to life' color, which has to be seen to be appreciated. It is a mine of information on southern Africa's avifauna and contains excellent essays on the origin and classification of birds and on anatomical, behavioral and breeding adaptations. It also contains a very useful chapter on Southern African bird habitats and distribution. At 760 pages, weighing some 10 pounds this is obviously no field guide, but it will provide hours of pleasure.
Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide by Ian Sinclair and Ian Davidson (Cape Town: Struik). In the introduction, the authors say that "the main purpose of this book is to bring together more photographs than ever before of birds that occur in southern Africa". The result is the finest ever photographic guide to Southern African birds. Somewhere in between a field guide and a coffee table publication, this bulky book is worth every penny of its near R100 (about US$22) price tag. With very few exceptions, the photographs are all excellent, illustrating immature birds, various color forms, male/female differences and the like, far better than has been done before. The authors state that in selecting the species to be included, they eliminated 'very rare and vagrant birds, and those that have been seen in the region only a handful of times'. According to reviewer Gordon Maclean (Birding in Southern Africa 1995), "this is a beautifully produced and designed book (which) will make a marvelous gift for anyone interested in birds, especially for a beginner. For the informed amateur and the professional, however, it contains nothing which earlier books do not already provide." The book is marred by a lengthy list of errata pasted in the back, but the high standard of the photography more than compensates. Patrick Wagner (Getaway Nov. 1995) says that the book "...will be a compulsory addition to the library of any dedicated bird enthusiast."
Birds of Kenya, a Celebration by D Richards. (Hamish Hamilton 1991)
Birds of Prey of Southern Africa by Peter Steyn (David Philip 1982). The definitive work on identification of southern African raptors. It contains many plumage variations (immatures, sub-adults, etc.) which makes it a boon for raptor lovers and even for 'ordinary' birders intent on identifying those tough 'big brown birds'. A pleasure to use.
Southern African Birds of Prey by Peter and Beverley Pickford (Struik 1989). A truly magnificent photographic study of southern African birds of prey. In addition to the stunning photographs, it contains useful text and distribution maps. Many of the birds portrayed are infrequently seen and the photographs are of a standard which aids in identification. This is the perfect gift to buy in southern Africa to bring back to birding friends.
Waders of Southern Africa by Phil Hockey (Cape Town: Struik Winchester). In this beautifully illustrated (by Clare Douie) coffee table size publication, international wader expert Dr. Phil Hockey describes the lifestyles and habits of waders in detail, covering aspects such as food and foraging, breeding habits, distribution and migratory patterns. Each bird is discussed in a comprehensive species account, each accompanied by informative text, a distribution maps and a full-page color plate showing plumage variations and most of the important identification characteristics. Reviewer Patrick Wagner (Getaway Magazine, Nov. 1995) says that "...an impressive selection of in-text drawings, completed by Andrew Barlow, adds final polish to a magnificent publication which pays tribute to Southern Africa's splendid waders."
The Owls of Southern Africa by Alan Kemp and Simon Calburn (Struik Winchester 1987) and Shrikes of Southern Africa by Tony Harris and Graeme Arnott (Struik Winchester 1988). These were the first two of a series of monographs on interesting Southern African families of birds. Both books contain extensive species accounts dealing with identification, habitat and status, behavior and breeding biology. The color plates, sketches and pencil drawings are superb throughout and neither book is likely to be surpassed in terms of scholarship or artistic achievement.
Ornithology for Africa by Gordon Lindsay Maclean. According to a review by R.L. Brooke in Birding in Southern Africa, this book is successful in making ornithology intelligible to the lay person interested in the subject but lacking the formal academic training to study it. What has two hundred years of bird study in southern Africa taught us? The answers are in this book, to quote the reviewer. Be aware that you have to know your Musophagidae from your Meropidae to appreciate this work; most of the time the author refers to families by their scientific names and the chapter on Zoogeography is all but unintelligible to someone who lacks a working knowledge of bird family nomenclature.
The Vultures of Africa by Peter Mundy, Duncan Butchart, John Ledger & Steven Piper (Russel Friedman Books, JHB). According to reviewer David Steele this magnificent publication is essential reading for bird enthusiasts and is bound to become a collector's item.
Bird Atlas of Botswana by Huw Penry (University of Natal Press, 1994). A 'must have' for the serious birder planning a trip (other than a guided bird tour) to Botswana. The species accounts are detailed enough to give one an excellent idea of where and when to expect to find a specific species and the inclusion of small-scale Africa-wide distribution maps for each species make it easy to isolate endemic and near-endemic species, should one wish to do so. The book has several excellent introductory chapters, amongst which the chapter on 'Factors affecting bird distribution' is a standout. There are eight pages of color photographs illustrating the wide diversity of habitats encountered in the country.
The Atlas of Southern African birds by J.A. Harrison et al (Birdlife South Africa, 1997). Vol. 1 (Non-passerines) and Vol. 2 (Passerines). A monumental and magnificent work, this atlas presents a detailed exposition of the distribution of all Southern African birds. Detailed computer-generated distribution maps are accompanied by notes - for each species - about habitat, movements, breeding, historical distribution and conservation, where appropriate. No serious Southern African birder would want to be without these books, although they are bulky and expensive.
SNAKES & OTHER REPTILES
Southern African Snakes and other Reptiles: a Photographic Guide by Bill Branch (Struik, 1993) A good field guide, very useful for identifying 240 of southern Africa's most commonly seen snakes and reptiles. It contains, like most of the Struik series of field guides, a selection of excellent photographs and distribution maps. The maps in this book are somewhat difficult to decipher, due to size limitations. Peter Steyn (Birding in Southern Africa 1994) describes it as an ideal book to take into the field to enhance birdwatching trips.
Reptiles of Southern Africa by Rod Patterson (Struik 1987). Although this book is not a comprehensive field guide, the excellent collection of photographs by Anthony Bannister, arguably South Africa's leading wildlife photographer, makes it worth owning. A good companion to the previous book.
FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa by Donald G. Braodley. The definitive study of the 160 species and sub-species known to occur in the southern African sub-continent, originally published in 1962 as 'Snakes of Southern Africa' by the late Dr. Vivian F.M. FitzSimons. Many changes took place over the following 20 years and the 1983 edition, revised and updated by Dr. Donald G. Braodley (who assisted with the original work) incorporated those changes. This 1990 edition includes a new addendum and revised bibliography which brings it up-to-date with the latest scientific information. Features 92 photographs, 83 distribution maps, 81 color plates.
INSECTS, SPIDERS & BUTTERFLIES
Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Africa by Ivor Migdoll (Struik 1987). This handy guide has over 620 photographs illustrating 232 more commonly encountered species. Good introduction and distribution maps make it the recommended butterfly book for all but the serious lepidopterist.
Butterflies of southern Africa: a field guide by M. Williams. (Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers, 1994). Reviewer Peter Steyn (Birding in Southern Africa 1995) says that "this book is an excellent practical field guide and organizes its contents not on the basis of relationship, but on similar colors, in the same way that Newman's Birds groups drongos, Black Cuckooshrike and Black Flycatcher on the same page."
African Insect Life by S.H.. Skaiffe. This excellent reference work has now been reprinted.
Insects by E Holm and E De Meillon (Struik 1986) A rather modest pocket guide, nevertheless very useful as an introduction to the wonderful world of southern African insects. Representatives of the common, easily seen families are illustrated, with references to related species.
Field Guide to the Insects of the Kruger National Park by Leo Braack. A useful field guide to add to your collection. Over 250 color photographs of the various orders and families set out in taxonomic order. Each photograph is captioned and cross-referenced to the text. Includes descriptions and biological details on the insects occurring in the Park, a full scientific index and an index of English and Afrikaans common names.
Southern African Spiders: An identification guide by Martin Filmer (Struik 1992) The 63 families of spiders found in Southern Africa are described verbally and pictorially - with excellent illustrations - in a logically arranged, well indexed and easily portable took.
Spiders by G Newlands and E De Meillon (Struik 1986). This introductory guide does not claim to be comprehensive, but it adequately covers the most commonly encountered southern African arachnids. Nice to have if one aspires to be an all-round naturalist.
Southern African Trees: A photographic guide by Dr. Piet van Wyk (Struik, 1993). This book presents about 250 most commonly seen trees in a clear and succinct way. Color photographs show trees as they are most typically seen, supplemented by photographs of flowers, fruit, leaves and bark of the tree. Compact and easy to use.
Field Guide to the Trees of the Kruger National Park by Piet van Wyk (Struik 1984). Very useful in the entire lowveld, and of course in the Kruger Park, especially in rest camps, picnic spots and along roads where many trees are marked with their national tree list numbers. Over 800 excellent photographs for easy identification.
Bushveld trees - lifeblood of the Transvaal by Malcolm Funston (Cape Town, Fernwood Press, 1993) Reviewer Peter Steyn (Birding in Southern Africa 1994) praises the evocative text by Peter Borchert and superb photography of Malcolm Funston, adding that the concept of this book is very successful. "Each tree illustration is accompanied by pictures of associated creatures, as well as delightful line drawings by Nicci Page. Birds feature in many of these supplementary illustrations and will enhance the appeal to those many birdwatchers who combine their interest in birds with a love of the trees that host them."
Trees of Southern Africa by K Coates Palgrave (Struik 1977)
A Field Guide to the Trees of Southern Africa by E Palmer (Collins 1986).
Collins Photo-guide: Wild-flowers of East Africa, Blundell 1992.
Fynbos, South Africa's Unique Floral Kingdom by Richard Cowling and David Richardson. (Fernwood, South Africa) 156 pages, 280 color photos, 2 maps. The Cape Floral Kingdom - the smallest of the world's six floral kingdoms - has six vegetation types with 8600 plant species, of which 5800 are endemic. Fynbos, the principal vegetation in 80% of the kingdom, has 7000 plant species. According to the Johannesburg Star, "Its exquisite subtleties set by harsh adversity over the eons have never been better described than in this coffee-table edition by Prof Richard Cowling, director of the Institute for Plant Conservation at the University of Cape Town, and Dr Dave Richardson, a senior researcher at the institute, with magnificent photography by Colin Paterson-Jones." The book covers all aspects of the Fynbos environment, its organisms and ecosystems, as well as pressing conservation concerns, and the animal life associated with it.
"Essentially, fynbos is African. A botanical wonderland in an area where essential nutrients are scarce, summer drought dries out the topsoil for months, recurring fires raze all in their path, where howling winds pummel ceaselessly days or weeks on end, and where the amount of plant material produced is only marginally greater than in some deserts," the authors say.
Trees & Shrubs of the Okavango Delta (Shell Oil of Botswana, 1998) and Common Wild Flowers of the Okavango Delta (Shell Oil of Botswana 1998) both by Veronica Roodt. Superbly researched works on the flora of the Okavango Delta and surrounding areas; both books are packed with useful and interesting information about identifying the plants, their medicinal uses and nutritional value, and how they are utilized by both man and various other animals. If you want to know whether animals really get drunk on Marula fruits, or why the centers of the smaller islands in the permanent swamp of the Okavango Delta are often barren, you'll find the answers here. Invaluable for keen naturalists and for those interested in how all living organisms interact.
HIKING AND BACK-PACKING
The Complete Guide to Walks and Trails in Southern Africa by Jaynee Levy (Struik 1993). This completely revised and updated edition of American-born Ms Levy's previous book on the subject is a visual and informational delight. More than 600 trails in 18 different regions of southern Africa are discussed, each entry containing a wealth of practical, pertinent information. This invaluable guide is meant for even the relative novice, as it includes useful hints on equipment, how to deal with emergencies, and many contact addresses. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the revised 3rd edition is the vastly improved photography. The book contains many references to good birding areas, as Ms Levy is an accomplished bird-watcher.
Hiking Trails of Southern Africa by Willie and Sandra Olivier (Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers). David Rogers writes in Getaway Magazine (April 1996) that this book is an updated and revised version of two of the Olivier's earlier books on the subject. Focusing on 44 of the really popular and established hiking trails in Southern Africa, up to eight pages are allocated to each, with detailed diagrams showing the route as well as useful rainfall and temperature graphs. "The sections kick off with a trail planner with contact details, map references, facilities, logistics and other relevant information. There are detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna to be found on the trail and comprehensive day-by-day breakdowns of the route." The book covers Namibia, Northern and Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, North-West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Northern Province. Useful 'before you go' information with suggested menus and tips for putting together first aid kits and for buying sleeping bags round out this chunky guide. Rogers states that for the hiker "...who wants to own just one useful hiking book this could easily be it."
The guide to backpacking and wilderness trails by Willie & Sandra Olivier, 1989. 298 pages. According to reviewer Peter Steyn this attractive guide is enhanced by Lesley Coombes' delightful line drawings. The information is comprehensive and would greatly facilitate preparations for a hike. If you haven't yet hiked one of South Africa's many wilderness trails, this book will make you want to see what you have been missing.
Drakensberg Walks by David Bristow (Struik, Cape Town 1996). A handy guide to 120 Drakensberg hikes, ranging from 30-minute rambles to epic five day slogs. According to reviewer David Rogers (Getaway Magazine, April 1996), "...each entry includes the distance, duration and severity of the hike, a sketch map, and a detailed description of the route."
GAME PARKS AND NATURE RESERVES
Guide to Southern African Game & Nature Reserves by Chris & Tilde Stuart (Struik, 2nd Ed, 1992) The book contains detailed, practical information on more than 400 reserves in southern Africa. If you're going to spend more than just a week or so in southern Africa, this book will help you make the most of your journey. It contains many maps, opening and closing times, information on accommodation and facilities offered and many references to birds and mammals to be seen.
Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa. Third Edition (1997). This is a new edition of an old favorite, completely revised and updated with 195 new entries. Comprehensive coverage of all game reserve and nature sanctuaries in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Clearly drawn maps and interesting side-bars make this more than just a guide: in parts it reads more like an introduction to the natural history of an area or a species. Nor without shortcomings, though: the selection of photographs is rather weak, with several poor and many dated photographs marring an otherwise excellent volume. Hardcover, 423 p.
A Field Guide to the National Parks of East Africa by J G Williams, Collins. This useful, pocket-sized guide contains descriptions of national parks and game reserves (including marine conservation areas) of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It is well illustrated with 25 maps and 24 color and 5 black & white plates by Norman Arlott and Rena Fennessy, and features a list of birds and animals to be found in each park. The guide also includes descriptions of the principal mammals and the more common birds of the region. Due to heavy poaching several of the mammals listed as 'plentiful' when the book was last revised in 1981 are now rare. Black rhino which - according to the guide - 'are to be seen' in Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba actually no longer exist in the area.
Make the Most of Kruger. Kruger National Park & Jacana Education. (Jacana, Jhb. 1993). 84 p., soft cover, spiral bound. Reviewer Ferdy de Moor (The Naturalist, March 1994) recommends the book to potential KNP visitors: "It will most certainly enrich their experience of this unique and varied wilderness area." De Moor writes that this concise, well-prepared and information-packed book contains all the 'standard' tourist information such as opening & closing times, facilities at rest camps, localities of points where you are allowed to leave your vehicle, a checklist of useful items to bring on a day trip, etc. What sets the book apart and makes it a "more holistic guide to the KNP" is detailed information on the sixteen ecozones in the Park; 6 maps depicting areas of the Park from north to south and a chapter entitled "Find It" which provides a good description of the past and present geology of the park and descriptions & illustrations of commonly encountered trees, grasses & reeds and animal species. The book also has a short resume of the Park's history. De Moor finds both the table of contents & index to be useful.
Kruger National Park, Questions and Answers by P F Fourie (revised and edited by G de Graaff), 1992. If you ever wondered why warthogs wallow in mud, whether hippos eat fish, or whether lions can climb trees, this slim volume will make for some interesting reading.
A Visitor's Guide to Kruger National Park by Leo Braack (Fourth Edition, Struik 1996) An acknowledged expert who knows the Park intimately opens the door to its natural treasures, introducing the visitor to its mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and other small creatures. Other chapters cover the trees, flowers, grasses and even the topographical features which make up the wide range of habitats in the Park. Very good descriptions of the various rest camps (including the recent additions), the seven wilderness trails, and useful information about Comair flights and tours as well as general regulations, make this a handy all-round introduction to Kruger.
Kruger National Park checklist by L. Braack. (Cape Town: Struik). This checklist contains the approximately 500 bird species, 145 mammals, 110 reptiles and 350 trees found in the park. The relative abundance of the various species is indicated by a series of dots which are all too similar in size, unfortunately. Nevertheless an extremely handy publication for the avid lister.
National Parks of South Africa by Brendan Ryan & Anthony Bannister (Cape Town: Struik, 1993. 184 p.p.). A comprehensive book on the 17 South African national parks. Chapters provide an overview of each park with information on environment, animals & birds, as well as practical information on accommodation and facilities, opening times, climatic details and telephone numbers. Color photographs reflect the beauty and character of the individual parks. According to reviewer David Bristow the book is an evocative odyssey through the country's foremost conservation areas and a distilled view of its incredible diversity.
Guide to the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park by Gus Mills & Clem Haagner (Southern Book Publishers, JNB 1989) The essential companion for a trip to this park.
A Guide to Namibian Game Parks by Willie & Sandra Olivier (Longman, Namibia 1993. 250 p.p.). A detailed handbook describing game parks in separate sections, each containing a useful, detailed park map, information about where to book, when to visit, how to get there and what amenities are available, animals, birds, vegetation, descriptions of drives, walking trails and hikes. The introductory section on Namibia is likewise crammed with essential information for the visitor. This book is a must for any eco-tourist planning a trip to Namibia.
Great Game Park of Africa: Etosha National Park by David Rogers. Struik, 1994. According to reviewer Patrick Wagner (Getaway Dec. 94) this book provides an ideal introduction to Namibia's most important tourist attraction. It is a 48-page guide (one-third text and two-thirds photographs) dealing with subjects such as history, seasonal variation, vegetation, herbivores, big cats, birds, the restricted western area, the three rest camps and a detailed advisory. The advisory chapter has useful information on how to get there, contact details for reservations, accommodation and facilities, resorts on the park's outskirts, when to go and what to take. There is also a useful guide to 35 of the park's most productive water holes. A study of this section, says reviewer Wagner, will advise what game you might see at specific locations and which holes are the most suitable for effective photography.
Checklist: Etosha National Park by B. Loutit (Cape Town: Struik, 1995). This pocket-sized booklet lists the birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians and tress of the Etosha National Park. Dot symbols indicated whether a species is rare, common or abundant. According to reviewer Peter Steyn (Birding in Southern Africa, 1995), "... the lists are alleviated by a few delightful pencil sketches by Andrew Barlow. An extremely useful checklist for your next visit to Etosha."
Guide to Southern African Safari Lodges by Peter Joyce. 320 pp. An accurate and informative guide to where to stay in and around the major game areas in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Profiles of about 300 of the region's finest safari lodges, private lodges, rest camps, bush camps and selected country hotels, with the emphasis on the comfort, amenities and attractions of the lodge: what to see, what to do. An advisory panel for each region highlights the best time of year to visit, climate, what to take, getting there, reservations information and safari operators.
GENERAL TRAVEL GUIDES
Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa. Reader's Digest, 1990. Just about everything the independent traveler needs to plan a trip to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia or Zimbabwe. Exhaustive detail on almost anything worth seeing, from the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. An abundance of excellent maps, drawings and color photographs and fascinating side-bars on topics of natural, historical and cultural interest make this book a veritable gold-mine of information. Lists of things to do and see for every city, area and region. The kind of book you hope your travel agent has. Predictably on the bulky side. 544 pages.
A Traveler's Companion to Southern Africa by Mike Crewe-Brown. Accurate information is an obvious prerequisite for the traveler who wishes to make the right decisions on where to go, what to see and do and how to reach his or her destination. This book fills a gap by providing a broad spectrum of travel oriented information such as planned tour itineraries of varying lengths covering the entire area, details of various types of accommodation, restaurants & shopping centers, useful telephone numbers, addresses and details of annual events. Color photographs show places of interest.
Lonely Planet : South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. All the essential travel details are included in this guide as well as information about wildlife reserves.
Lonely Planet : Zimbabwe, Botswana & Namibia. 3rd Edition Jan 1999. This comprehensive guide shows a wilder, older side of Africa for the adventurous traveler. Includes a 32-page color Safari Guide. Up-to-date and very detailed, this is arguably the single best guide for these three countries. It will appeal to independent travelers with a sense of adventure, as well as to travelers intending to join a tour, but who would like to do some 'home work' to make the trip more meaningful. Worth buying just for the very detailed 'Facts for the visitor' sections and the good maps. A percentage of income from sales goes to assistance programs around the world.
Backpacker's Africa by Hilary Bradt. (4th edition, Bradt Publishers). This ever-popular guide, somewhat of a backpacker's 'Bible' to East and Southern Africa, is now in its fourth edition. According to reviewer Jackie Nel (Getaway Magazine, March 1996) "...the problem with a book such as this is that it just can't cover everything. However, the information it does contain is for the most part accurate, up-to-date and reliable..." West Africa is not covered. A practical, useful handbook that anyone planning to travel Africa, especially those on a budget, should find invaluable.
Southern Africa on a budget by Jennifer Stern (Cape Town: Struik Publishers). According to reviewer Jackie Nel (Getaway Magazine January 1995), this book, which covers all the countries in Southern Africa, can be recommended without hesitation. The author is not afraid to voice her opinion and so warn travelers what to expect. This light, compact book includes notes on planning, what to see and where to stay and eat, useful addresses and telephone number and a chapter on responsible tourism. "This book is for the cost-conscious traveler who wants to see more of Southern Africa than merely the attractions highlighted by glossy brochures and package tours."
West Africa: The Rough Guide by Jim Hudgens and Richard Trillo (London: Rough Guides, 1995) According to reviewer Jackie Nel (Getaway Magazine, March 1996), "the authoritative text, fascinating and historical insights and occasional gentle humor ... make this a gem of a book, and one you'll find yourself delving into again and again." Crammed with text and maps, one section devoted to basics (general information and planning); the rest of the book providing a rundown on everything you'll need to know country-by-country.
NATURE TOUR TRAVEL GUIDES
Eco-tours and Nature Getaways by Alice M Geffen and Carole Berglie. (Potter, 1993). This well-researched book, billed as a guide to environmental vacations around the world, is recommended for nature enthusiasts with ecological concerns. Filled with hundreds of suggestions for group tours throughout the world, from birding, botany and game-viewing safaris to whale-watching, rafting and canoeing expeditions. Descriptions of trips including time of year available, number of participants, mode of travel, accommodations and relative cost. The authors also provide valid information on deciding on the 'right' trip, selecting a tour operator, preparing for a trip, and how the eco-tourist can help to protect the environment.
Africa's Top Wildlife Countries by Mark W Nolting. (Global Travel Publishers). A more than useful guide for anyone traveling to Africa with lots of practical information, highlights and comparisons of wildlife reserves and major attractions. A worthwhile investment, especially if you're interested in a 'traditional' African photographic safari. Very useful advice on best times to go.
Traveler's Guide to Botswana by Peter Comley and Salome Meyer. Struik, 1994. Reviewer David Steele (Getaway Nov. 1994) says that for the first-time visitor this beautifully illustrated work is practically essential reading. The book is laid out in four parts: An introduction to Botswana, Getting around Botswana, Exploring Botswana and a Visitor's Digest. According to Steele the meat of this work is in the Exploring Botswana section which features the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Park, the Kalahari, and Eastern Botswana and the Tuli Block. The reviewer found the information to be accurate, "...which is not at all surprising since (authors) Comley and Meyer live in Botswana, guiding and conducting photographic safaris in all of this country's major tourist areas."
This is Botswana by Daryl & Sharna Balfour and Peter Joyce. Peter Steyn writes in Birding in Southern Africa (Autumn 1995) that "the photographs for this attractive book are the work of Daryl and Sharna Balfour, whose work needs no introduction. The text is by Peter Joyce and covers all the regions of this diverse and wonderful country. This is by no means a collection of pretty pictures, and it is a practical and informative introduction to Botswana the country, not just its wildlife. Some of the historical material is of particular interest."
Visitor's Guide to Botswana by Michael Main (Third edition, 1996, Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg). Good information on routes, details on the best times to visit the country's 10 different national parks and various game reserves. This book caters specifically for private travelers who are intent on exploring Botswana - a country with a very undeveloped infrastructure - by four-wheel-drive vehicle. The new edition includes over 20 new maps (with GPS references) detailing routes for four-wheel-drive vehicles. It tells you what there is to see in the wild areas of Botswana and gives detailed directions on how to get there. There is also useful information on where to stay on your route, what to do in emergencies, what to take with you and how to deal with customs.
Zimbabwe and Botswana: The Rough Guide by Barbara McCrea and Tony Pinchuk (Harrap Columbus, London). Very readable, entertaining guide to Zimbabwe and Botswana with comprehensive practical advice on watching wildlife, whether on foot or by four-wheel drive vehicle, lodging in luxury or camping on a budget. The book provides in-the-know coverage of Victoria Falls, southern Africa's adventure and safari capital, and perceptive accounts of the region's ancient sights, from the rock art of the Tsodilo Hills to the stone palaces of Great Zimbabwe. Highly recommended.
Okavango - Sea of Land, Land of Water by Anthony Bannister and Peter Johnston (Struik 1977). A classic - exquisitely told and photographed; truly evocative of the delta. Still the best book about the Okavango Delta.
Okavango, Jewel of the Kalahari by Karen Ross, Southern 1987. Also highly recommended. Ms Ross' background as a qualified biologist is evident in this work which delves quite deeply into the natural history of the Delta.
Okavango: Africa's Last Eden by Frans Lanting. More than 130 extraordinary photographs, taken during a year-long assignment in the region by award-winning photographer Frans Lanting, capture the beauty and drama of the breathtaking Okavango Delta.
Chobe - Africa's Untamed Wilderness by Daryl and Sharna Balfour, Southern 1997. This coffee table sized volume is both a fascinating journal of a year spent in Chobe National Park and a photographic showcase of the area's wildlife and scenery. The photographs are consistently excellent.
A Field Guide to the Mammals of Botswana by Peter Comley and Salome Meyer (Kasane: Africa Window). Patrick Wagner writes in Getaway Magazine (Oct. 1995) that this practical, 96-page soft-cover guide should (be) in the bags of visitors to this great game-viewing country. "In most cases a complete page (is) allocated to each animal and this space is filled by a shaded box with quick reference information (such as habitat, size, best viewing); each animal's name is listed in seven languages, followed by a short synopsis of up-to-date information; at least one color photograph; a block for field notes; a distribution map and a unique scale system that provides a quick reference to the size of the animal and its tracks."
Kalahari - River of Sand by Alain Degre, Sylvie Robert & Mike Knight. The second book by internationally acclaimed photographers Degre and Robert, the first being ...
Meerkat Valley. This book introduces some of the Kalahari's denizens: plant, animal and human. The evocative full color photography and illuminating text capture the fascinating interplay of transient beauty and seemingly harsh, indestructible land to perfection. Hardcover, 160 pp.
Kalahari - Life's Variety in Dune and Delta by Michael Main. I have not read this book, but it comes highly recommended by Wilderness Safaris.
Botswana Tourist Map. Beck. Including large-scale map of the Okavango Delta. Comprehensive and up-to-date, featuring detailed street plans & large scale, easy to read area plans. Includes useful information on lodges and camps, a wildlife identification chart and ornithological guide with detailed artwork.
A brush with the Wild by Paul Augustinus
Guide to the common trees of the Okavango by V Roodt
History of Botswana by Tlou & Campbell
The Lions and Elephants of the Chobe by Bruce Aitken
Which Way Botswana's Wildlife - available from Russel Friedman Books.
Please note: Many of these books will be difficult to purchase as some are out of print or published overseas. Please consult your library.
Kenya by Richard Trillo (Rough Guides, London). This edition of Kenya includes the new color guide to common mammals of East Africa, a more comprehensive and detailed contents page - making the guide even more user-friendly -as well as updated information about each destination. According to reviewer Justin Fox (Getaway Apr. 98) it gives the most current information on all aspects of independent travel as well as packages, and its practical tips about wildlife and safaris are extremely helpful.
Visitors' Guide to Kenya and East Africa: How to get there, what to see and where to stay by Philip Briggs (Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg). Using Nairobi as an arrival point, this useful, basic guide details a diversity of holiday options available in Kenya and the rest of East Africa. According to reviewer Justin Fox (Getaway Apr '98) the information provided for Kenya is comprehensive, but the sections covering Tanzania and Uganda suffer from being too cursory. Practical information about traveling in East Africa (such as dress codes, health advice, hints on bargaining, personal security) is useful.
Spectrum Guide to Kenya by Camerapix Publishers. This 432-page small format publication is a very useful guidebook. Divided into eight comprehensive parts it covers the entire country and is crammed with information ranging from Kenya's early geological history, millions of years ago, to tipping your guide after the safari. According to reviewer Patrick Wagner particularly useful sections are: part one which covers the country's history, geography and people, part two which provides information on places and travel; and part five, which puts relevant travel information at your fingertips. "The book is sprinkled with good color photographs, some of which do an excellent job of capturing the spirit and variety of destinations in Kenya."
Among the Elephants by Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton, 1975 (Living with elephants in Lake Manyara NP)
The Tree where Man was born by Peter Matthiessen (Dutton, 1972). Photographs and text.
Portraits of the Wild: Behavior Studies of East African Mammals by Cynthia Moss (Houghton Mifflin, 1975)
Barefoot over the Serengeti by David Reid (London: Cassell, 1979)
Ngorongoro, the Eighth Wonder by H. Fosbrooke (Deutsch, 1972)
North of South: An African Journey by Shive Naipaul (Deutsch 1970)
Serengeti Shall not Die by Bernhard & Michael Grzimek (Dutton, 1961) A classic.
Thompson through Maasai Land edited by E.A. Loftus (Nairobi EA literature bureau, 1959)
Maasai: T Ole Saitoti (Harry Abrams inc. 1981) Photos by Carol Beckwith.
Africa Adorned by Angela Fisher (Harry Abrams inc. 1984)
Africa by Sandford J Ungar (Simon & Schuster 1985)
The Africans by Lavid Lamb (Random House, 1982)
Animals of East Africa by Louis Leaky (National Geographic Society)
Travelers Guide to East Africa by Thornton Cox (Hastings Publishing House, 5th Ed. 1980)
Kingdom of Lions, by Jonathan Scott. Scott is one of the world's leading wildlife photographers. This is the most beautifully illustrated book yet on the Masai Mara game reserve, one of the richest wildlife areas on earth.
A Birder's Guide to Travel in Madagascar by N Gardner Useful guide for birders visiting this major island. Includes details on climate and health; transport; accommodation; visas; money and safety; permits; bibliography; and full details of 22 sites. 42 pages, figs. 1992.
Guide to Madagascar by H Bradt. A complete guide for all adventurous travelers to this unique and beautiful island. Gives extensive information on accommodation, transport and nature reserves. Crammed with hands-on information and deals with the island and its people in great detail. 176 pages, maps, b/w photos, illus. Bradt 4th Edition 1994
Madagascar: A Natural History by K Preston-Mafham. This excellent book is both a beautifully illustrated guide to Madagascan flora and fauna, and a much needed introduction to the natural history of this embattled island. Since its publication date new species of fauna and flora have been discovered or reclassified and some information is already somewhat dated. 224 pages, 370 color photos. Facts on File -1991
Madagascar: A Visitor's Guide by Hilary Bradt, Derek Schuurman and Nick Garbutt. This well illustrated guide highlights the mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and insects that visitors are most likely to see, with informative text on the major habitats, key sites, details of mimicry, camouflage, and a consideration of the evolutionary background to the country's wildlife. A glimpse to the future is also provided. 138 pages, 200 color photos, b/w illus. Bradt, 1996.
Lemurs of Madagascar by RA Mittermeier, I Tattersall, WR Konstant, DM Meyers and RB Mast. Series: TROPICAL FIELD GUIDES. This field guide profiles all 50 known species and subspecies of lemurs, from their origins and discovery to recent studies and on-going conservation efforts. Included are full descriptions, distribution maps, and detailed drawings of postures and behaviors used by naturalists and conservationists to distinguish between species. 356 pages, 35 color plates, 135 b/w photos, line illus & figs. Conservation International, USA, 1995.
Madagascar: A World Out of Time by F Lanting. The most impressive coffee-table book about Madagascar. With an introduction by Gerald Durrell, this book pays homage in words and pictures to the remarkable wildlife of the island. Over eighty per cent of the species found here are endemic - some 8,000 flowering plants, 100 mammals, 150 frogs and many more. 143 pages, 100 color photos, 1 map. Robert Hale, 1991.
Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Madagascar by Frank Glaw & Miguel Vences (1995). An excellent book, which is available at the Mandraka nature farm in Madagascar.
MALAWI & ZAMBIA
Guide to Malawi by Philip Briggs (Bradt Publications, UK). This book covers Malawi from Mwabve Game Reserve in the south to the town of Chitipa in the north. There is much practical advice on finding your way around, as well as background information on the social and natural history of this relatively inexpensive destination. Reviewed in Getaway Feb. 1998.
Malawi, Mozambique & Zambia by David Else (Lonely Planet). Lonely Planet guides, like Rough Guides, are regarded as traveler's bibles. This compact book - it will fit comfortably in your backpack - focuses on Malawi and, to a lesser extent, on its neighboring countries. It gives a wealth of facts, including detailed coverage of the national parks. Reviewed in Getaway Feb 98.
Visitor's Guide to Malawi by Martine Maurel. Revised edition. 1993. This guide contains a wealth of information on what there is to do and see in Malawi, how to get from place to place, the best times to go, what to take and where to stay. Not for armchair travelers, as it contains no photographs, but highly recommended for people who are planning to go there and want to know what to expect.
A guide to the fishes of Malawi by Lewis, Reinthal and Tendall.
Malawi - Lake of Stars - Frank Johnson
Survivor's Song - Mark and Delia Owens
Venture into the Interior - Laurens van der Post
Zambia by Ian Murphy.
Guide to Mozambique by Mike Slater (Struik Publishers, Cape Town). A revised and updated edition of a 1994 work, this is the most comprehensive guide to Mozambique on the market; even the locals were impressed with it when the reviewer took the book there late in 1997. It has everything: maps, photographs and real insider information on getting around, trouble shooting and much else besides. It's a good read too. Reviewed in Getaway Feb. 98.
Guide to Mozambique by Bernhard Skrodzki. Bradt, updated 1993. A 'no-frills' guide which is sure to be of interest to backpackers and overlanders planning a visit to Mozambique. According to reviewer David Rogers (Getaway Sep. '94) post-independence Mozambique is far less geared for tourism than when it was a Portuguese province, so subject matter is fairly limited. Roughly half the 88-page book deals with history, current affairs, weather, medical precautions and entry regulations. Maputo, Beira, Northern Mozambique, Mount Binga and the coastal regions, including the Bazaruto Archipelago are covered in some detail, with the text supplemented with regional and street maps. Very useful.
Namibia - The Bradt Travel Guide by Chris McIntyre (Bradt 1998). This book covers Namibia quite comprehensively, with every major area (and some not so major ones) covered in detail, with excellent maps, information on where to stay, what to do, as well as extensive background material on culture and history. First class - by far the best available travel guide for Namibia.
Namibia Handbook by Sebastian Ballard and Nick Santcross (Footprints Handbooks, England). This is designed for use on the road: small and compact with a near-indestructible hard cover. It has comprehensive information, but only a handful of photographs and the illustrations are a little dated. It's packed with maps and plans on national, regional and local scale.
African Adventurer's Guide to Namibia by Willie & Sandra Olivier (1999. Southern Book Publishers) A good general reference work, with a pleasing emphasis on the environment, based on their earlier book 'Visitor's Guide to Namiba'). A well researched guide to this fascinating country with detailed information on how to get there, what to see and where to stay. The bulk of the book focuses on the regions of the country , namely Central, Northern, Western, Norteaster and Southern Namibia, as well as the Namib Desert. There are several suggested self-drive itineraries and an excellent selection of detailed maps on which convenient page references are given. A 300-page softcover book, small enough to slip into the side pocket of a travel bag.
Footprint Namibia Handbook by Sebastian Ballard & Nick Santcross (Footprint Handbooks 1999). According to the publishers, Footprint's Namibia Handbook "...is packed with all the essential practical information necessary to discover this land of superlatives which contains the oldest desert in the world and the highest sand dunes". Review pending.
Spectrum Guide to Namibia compiled by Camerapix. Struik 1993. Reviewer David Rogers (Getaway Dec. '94) contends that "...much of the text in the Spectrum Guide mirrors the Olivier's text virtually word for word, which makes you question the quality of its research and writing". The book is illustrated with excellent full-color photographs and maps. Rogers mentions a useful summary called 'facts at your fingertips' and a comprehensive listing with contact details of everything from clubs to consular offices. Soft-cover, 364 pages.
Globetrotter Travel Guide to Namibia. New Holland. A compact 128-page booklet with a modern user-friendly lay-out, according to reviewer David Rogers (Getaway Dec. '94). The text highlights the best attractions and points of interest, giving the reader useful information on where to tour, stay, eat and relax. Photographs are small but of high standard. This book is small enough for a camera bag, but is less comprehensive than the previous two guides.
This is Namibia by Peter Joyce & Gerald Cubitt (Struik 1992). An up-to-date photographic journey through Namibia with extended captions providing information on the areas depicted. Also contains a profile of the country with concise text describing Namibia's regions, peoples, towns, wilderness areas & historical background. Superb full color photographs. A good choice for prospective visitors wanting to familiarize themselves with the country.
Tourist Guide Namibia by Allen Walkden-Davis. A Shell Tourist Guide. A sensible travel guide to the region, packed with information on what to see and where to go, historical sites, maps, details on hotels, guest farms, etc. Illustrated with color photographs and illustrations. Softcover. 115 pp.
The Namib. Natural History of an Ancient Desert by Mary Seeley. A Shell Guide. An introduction to the fascinating aspects of the history and the life forms of the desert. Features a general introduction to the area followed by specific aspects of the landscape and the plants and animals which may be found at or near a particular spot. Illustrated throughout in color and black & white.
Namibia - Harsh Paradise - Bannister & Johnson
Namib - Dawn to Twilight - Sylvie Bergerot & Eric Robert. The outstanding full color photographs in this book reflects the exquisite beauty of Western Namibia, one of earth's rare remaining wilderness regions with virgin land and abundant wildlife. The text explains how plants and animals have adapted to survive in such harsh surroundings and tells the story of the Himba - their strong organization, their values and how they resist modern civilization.
Namibia Tourist Map by Beck. Including plans of Etosha, Namib-Naukluft, Windhoek. Keetmanshoop, Luderitz, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. Useful information on lodges and camps, a wildlife identification card and ornithological guide.
Etosha : Namibia's Kingdom of Animals. This is the best reading and photography on Etosha to date, and appeared as a 41-page feature in the March 1983 issue of National Geographic. It was written by Douglas Chadwick and photographed by Les and Jen Bartlett. At the time of publishing, the Bartletts had been photographing Etosha for more than four years.
The Besieged Desert by Mitch Reardon.
Fodor's South Africa, edited by Stephen Wolf (Fodors' Travel Publications, 1996). Probably the best single guide for South Africa, packed with useful, accurate and up-to-date information on where to stay and eat, what to do and see and experience, all presented in an entertaining, readable style. Eight sections cover specific areas, namely Johannesburg, The Eastern Transvaal, Cape Town and the Peninsula, the Western Cape, Garden Route and Little Karoo, Durban and Kwazulu-Natal, Victoria Falls and 'Big Game Adventures' which focus on national parks and private game lodges in the north-east.
Rough Guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland by Barbara McCrea, Tony Pinchuk and Greg Mthembu-Salter (Rough Guides 1997). Currently the most comprehensive and up to date guide for South Africa, with in-depth accounts of all the major sights, reviews of places to eat, drink and stay; practical tips on all sorts of activities and informed discussion of the country's culture and history. Invaluable. Reviewer Justin Fox (Getaway Apr. 98) says that it is reliable, readable and "...provides balanced accounts which neither hide nor overstate the country's problems. For instance, it warns against crime but is not alarmist."
Traveler's Guide to South Africa by Peter Joyce (Cape Town, Struik). A valuable general travel guide to South Africa; complete with maps. Several errors and omissions from the original 1991 book have been rectified.
Globetrotter Guide to South Africa (Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 1995). Small, colorful and packed with useful at-a-glance information. Much practical advice on where to stay and to see and do. 'Don't miss' suggestions for each area, complete with star gradings, are particularly useful for first-time visitors.
Places to visit in southern Africa edited by Tim O'Hagan. (Cape Town: The Motorist Publication, 1996) Reviewer David Rogers (Getaway, June 1996) says that this book is highly practical for local and overseas visitors - "I can think of no other comprehensive guide book I would rather own." Well organized, enabling one to pick "...(the) perfect beach, nature reserve or wine route..." 500 entries written in concise style, describes the attraction and list directions, opening times, accommodation options and contact details. Modern layout, 500 excellent photographs and 60 neat, uncluttered maps.
Traveler's Guide to Tanzania by Lisa Asch and Peter Blackwell (New Holland, London). This glossy, high quality publication covers all the basics with appealing thoroughness, says reviewer Justin Fox in Getaway (April 1998). The photographs and color maps are 'excellent' and the layout 'pleasing and user-friendly'. The book covers all of Tanzania's major tourist attractions, such as the Serengeti and Selous reserves, but also more isolated and less well-known areas including the Mahale Mountains National Park and the best of the country's beautiful, remote beaches. Topics of interest, such as inserts on rare animals, are highlighted in tinted information boxes. An advisory at the end of each chapter profiles useful information such as the best times to visit, main attractions, climate, accommodation and camping trips.
Guide to Tanzania by Philip Briggs (Bradt, UK). Bradt Guides have become the compass and almanac of overlanders and this second edition has been updated to include more information for upmarket visitors, whether touring independently or taking an organized safari. The guide contains a wealth of advice for adventurous travelers who want to get way off the beaten track. Unlike the Rough guides, which have a bias towards socio-political concerns, Bradt guides focus more on natural history, a subject they cover with authority. Source: Getaway Magazine April 1998.
Spectrum Guide to Zambia by Camerapix (Struik Publishers, Cape Town). According to Getaway Magazine, this is a high quality guide packed with information and more than 200 photos which give a glorious overview of the country. It is useful to have if you plan to do some reading before you go, and handy to have with you while you're there.
Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia by Rupert Isaacson (Cadogan Books, 1998). This is a comprehensive guide to three of southern Africa's most extraordinary countries. Review pending.
Travelers Guide to Zimbabwe by Paul Tingay (Struik Publishers, Cape Town). The Getaway review (Feb. 98) states that 'Exploring Zimbabwe' takes up most of the book, with detailed chapters on all the different regions from Victoria Falls to Lake Kariba. 'Visitor's Digest' is a 12-page travel advisory at the back, including contact details for safari operators, golf courses and even camera and binocular repair shops in Hare. There are numerous full color maps of a high standard. The evocative photos are reason enough to buy the book.
Spectrum Guide to Zimbabwe, ed. by Camerapix. Struik Publishers. According to Getaway Magazine this is a good background guide and contains almost everything the casual tourist and first-time visitor will need to know. Besides chapters on the history, geography and people of Zimbabwe, places of interest and the cities, there are special features on the country's wildlife, birds and flora, with check lists. Facts at your fingertips provides information on visas and immigration requirements, flights and air fares, car rental and so on. Facts on heritage sites, national parks, safari areas and sanctuaries are useful, but care should be take with the list of accommodation places and the accompanying telephone numbers. The list is not up to date and the contact details are not all correct.
This is Zimbabwe by Gerald Cubitt and Peter Joyce (Struik 1992). Ingeborg Lichtenberg writes that the book is to be recommended if you're looking for plenty of interesting information (bearing in mind that it is not a guide to Zimbabwe), complemented by 200 good, illuminating photographs. If you've never been to Zimbabwe you'll gain a good idea of what it looks like, and prospective visitors will obtain an accurate impression of what to expect.
Zimbabwe the Beautiful Land by Gerald Cubitt and Brendan Ryan. This book captures the scenic beauty and diverse wildlife of Zimbabwe with stunning full color photographs throughout. The informative text thoroughly explores the region and presents an overall view of the country. Large format. softcover, 80 pp.
The Zambezi, River of the Gods by Jan and Fiona Teede. An unforgettable journey from the source of the Zambezi in Northern Zambia to its mouth in Mozambique. According to Getaway's David Steele, this it is a superb guide to the entire length of the Zambezi River, with good maps and sketches and 158 excellent color photographs.
Visitor's Guide to Zimbabwe by Martine Maurel (Southern Book Publishers, 1992). Although not as detailed as the above-mentioned Spectrum Guide, it does a good job of supplying practical information for self-drive safaris. Information on where and how to get visas, regulations on firearms, information on licenses, insurance, descriptions of nine popular tourist routes and advice on factors affecting holiday planning such as season and climate, and several maps make this a useful volume.
Zimbabwe and Botswana: The Rough Guide by Barbara McCrea & Tony Pinchuk (Harrap Columbus) This book is especially good for historical and cultural background.
Guide to Zimbabwe and Botswana by David Else. Bradt, updated 1993. This regional guide, which should appeal to overlanders and backpackers, is divided into three different sections: Zimbabwe, Botswana and General Information. Zimbabwe is covered in 55 pages and particular attention is paid to the major cities and national parks. Victoria Falls, arguably Africa's biggest attraction for backpackers, is covered in two pages with suggestions (but few contact details) about where to stay and what to do, according to reviewer David Rogers (Getaway Sep. 1994). Botswana, says Rogers, has priced itself beyond the reach of most backpackers and the various options are dealt with in less than 20 pages.
The Victoria Falls: A visitor's guide by Jan and Fiona Teede (Johannesburg: Russel Friedman Books, 1995). Reviewer David Bristow (Getaway Magazine Oct. 1995) describes this book as an unusually attractive, practical guide book, which includes photographs from the Teede's coffee-table book about the falls, African Thunder: The Victoria Falls. Bristow writes that the visitor's guide is divided into roughly three sections, dealing respectively with background and natural history, action and adventure activities offered in the area, and facts for visitors including safari operators, hotels, species checklists and contact information. "As guide books go, this one is fresh in style and format, and professional in its presentation. It is as much a tourist's memento as a useful escort round the town and the Falls."
Zambezi: Journey of a River by Michael Main (Southern Book Publishers) According to reviewer David Bristow Main succeeded in '...distilling all the available scientific information, folklore and myth into one comprehensive and very readable, well illustrated text. The book can be used for casual reading as well as for research on the regions through which the river flows: its history, pre-history and natural history. Margaret Spenser recommends this book as essential reading for anyone planning a holiday along any section of the Zambezi. "It will enhance your understanding and appreciation of the area immensely."
The best source of up-to-date information on all aspects of African eco-tourism from destinations & operators to road conditions & suggested reading and much more is Getaway Magazine, a monthly published in Cape Town by Ramsay Son and Parker. If your planned African adventure is more than a year in the future, consider subscribing. At about $30 for 12 issues (surface mail) it is a worthwhile investment for a trip that may cost several thousand dollars. The address is Getaway, P 0 Box 596, Howard Place 7450, South Africa. Fax + 27 - 21 - 531-7303; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The best source for most of the above-mentioned books is Russel Friedman Books in Halfway House, South Africa (P O Box 73, Halfway House 1685, South Africa; Tel +27-11-702-2300 or fax +27-11-702-1403). The e-mail address is email@example.com.
Copyright reserved: Bert du Plessis, Fish Eagle Safaris - 1999
FISH EAGLE SAFARIS
Fish Eagle Safaris was founded in 1990 by Bert du Plessis, a native of South Africa, now a resident of Houston, Texas. The company markets photographic safaris (both scheduled overland group trips and customized fly-in safaris) to Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Since its inception, Fish Eagle Safaris has been closely associated with Wilderness Safaris, southern Africa's foremost nature tour operator. Bert has acted as an agent for Wilderness Safaris since he first entered the travel field, and he is currently among Wilderness Safaris' Top 10 producers in the USA.
Bert and his wife Kathleen, who assists him in a part-time capacity, travel to Africa regularly on inspection visits. Over the last three years, they have undertaken five educational trips to the area, completing two overland safaris in Botswana, and visiting many camps, hotels and lodges.
Bert is a keen amateur naturalist and bird-watcher with a Southern African 'life-list' of over 650 bird species. He has been a co-leader on several trips to Africa himself. Prior to entering the travel business, Bert served in the foreign service and was account director at an advertising agency in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Please direct inquiries to:
Fish Eagle Safaris
11191 Westheimer #349
Houston, TX 77042
Tel: (713) 467-5222
Fax: (713) 467-3208
To order a brochure, newsletter or 'Frequently Asked Questions' about selecting an African safari destination, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address and telephone number, or call 1-800-513-5222 (713-467-5222 if you're calling from outside North America)
We can also be reached by fax at 713-467-3208. To send us a request for further information, simply complete the response form.
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