Sunday, May 8

A safari guides library

 As you can expect, a safari guide needs a range of books, whilst on safari, for study purposes and just for sheer interest and enjoyment. (I might add that the shelf pictured above is just 1 out of 14 shelves of books that I have at home, but I will not go into the rest!)

Obviously in this day and age, the internet provides a vast source of reference material, but I love my books, and it's so much easier to grab a book to read in a spare ½ hour than it is to boot up the laptop, connect and “google”.

On safari

Much as I would like to take most of that shelf on safari I obviously have to be selective. There are three books I always take, and then if I have room, and depending on the season I will add two or three more.

These excellent field guides are useful for both identifying creatures that I am not sure of, and for being able to share pictures and basic facts with my clients – so these three books I will always have in the game viewing vehicle.

In the summer months I will also have the Reptiles, Insects, Wild Flower and Raptor Field Guides back at camp, and whenever I can I will always have my Sappi Tree Spotting – Lowveld (the BEST tree book I have ever owned!) In the winter months the Star Gazing from Game Reserves is a must.

Reference, study and general interest

All the books on my “safari” shelf are good “reference” books, but they vary in “readability”. A few of them have been so well written (for non-experts that is) that they have stimulated in me an interest in fields that I had previously found quite dry and may I say it, boring! Others have added a whole new dimension to my knowledge of a particular subject, and as a result made it even more fascinating.

Those books which I pick up frequently and browse when at home, or take to read in my spare time on safari are:-

Identifying trees made easy, plus full of fascinating facts on eco-zones, animal and human use of trees and much more.

A fascinating introduction to the history of our planet, geology, palaeontology, and geological maps / descriptions of South Africa. This book definitely got me hooked, finally, on geology!

Want to know the collective name of a bird, why it’s called what it is, how it flies, what it eats, where it nests, what its new name is?........ These Beat About the Bush books are both accessible and fascinating. 

Definitely the best bird book I've got so far.


A little heavy going in places, but a really good source for everything on elephants, plus the history of elephants in South Africa.


Also a little dry in places, but still a fascinating book to dip into when wanting to know a bit more about any of the African mammals.


Not as comprehensive as Estes but enjoyable reading and all sorts of less dry and interesting facts are included.

An area I am working on, and this book is so well laid out that I will hopefully know a lot more of our raptors soon…..

Another area of study, a fascinating book with great photos.

And finally…..

If you took a close look at my bookshelf you can see some ocean / reef / fish books (essential for when I am working as a DM (Dive Master)), general guide books on South Africa (for all those questions on what is our population, country size etc. etc.) and some interesting "story" books, ie. Jock of the Bushveld, The Elephant Whisperer, memoirs of Kruger by a Game Rangers wife and so on.

What isn’t in this shelf however, is my small (very) collection of South African history books, which apart from being one of my "interests" are also useful for when I am doing my "tourist" guide stuff (generally when we are not game viewing).

All in all, it gives you a feel for how much I'm supposed to know as a safari / tourist / South African guide…….

1 comment:

adele said...

Sue, thank you so much for the library resources, especially books on birds, which I'll look into. You may recall our one-day birding adventure when I was in SA last year. I look forward to my next trip. i would also be interested in your recommendation for the best birding binoculars.

All the best,

Adele L.