5 Must-Read books for your Botswana safari

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Once one of the poorest places on earth, Botswana has enjoyed extensive growth and prosperity since the discovery of their beautiful diamonds. But it’s not simply the international jewel trade that makes Botswana a rich place. From the diverse flora and fauna of the Kalahari Desert to the unique ecosystem of the Okavango, Botswana is like no place else on earth, and an amazing destination for a safari. A Botswana safari will no doubt reveal many of this countries unique natural delights to you, but to make the most of your trip, you should definitely do your homework. Reading before you go, and taking the right books in your luggage to, will add colour and depth to Botswana that you may otherwise have missed.

Botswana Time
By Will Randall
A humorous and very touching story of how a young man from England gets co-opted as a guide on an overland safari through Namibia and Botswana and then inadvertently ends up as a primary school teacher in Kasane. Helping a group of football crazy youngsters achieve their goals is not easy in this environment, especially when their ‘away’ games could be as far as 100 miles from home. This is a personal travel book with a difference; it actually holds a unique, touching and very gripping rags to riches story which will keep you turning the pages until the end!

The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series
By Alexander MacCall Smith
This best-selling series is set in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, and follows the adventures of Botswana’s most famous detective, the ‘traditionally-built’ Precious Ramotswe. Whether it’s a case of a philandering partner, a missing child, a crazy conman or a delinquent daughter, this lady is perturbed by nothing. She’s no Miss Marple, and employs some fairly unconventional research methods to get to the bottom of things, guaranteed to raise a pulse from time to time. And with 15 books in the series so far (and counting) you can load up your Kindle with these titles to keep you in material for a long time to come.

The Bushmen – a Changing Way of Life
By Anthony Bannister
A fascinating insight into how modern day life has impacted on the Bushmen of Botswana. Even as you read this, the last of the Kalahari Bushmen are being sucked into our Westernised civilisation, craving alien technologies and sporting Nike baseball caps in the process. Anthony Bannister and his co photographer Peter Johnson, have spent their entire lives trying to capture the last of the unspoilt corners of Africa, and this book is one of the most precious products of their lives work. Stunning photography and the moving introductory essay by David Lewis-Williams come together to give an unique look into the lives of some of the last people on earth who continue to live in harmony with the planet; never taking more than they need, never needing more than they can take. A must read for those enlisting on Botswana safaris who are keen to understand how it was before tourism arrived.

The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals
By Jonathan Kingdon
Think you know your safari creatures? Sure, you’ll know your hippos from your honey badgers, but what about all the others? There are hundreds of species of antelope alone, and if you want to know what you’re looking at on this once in a lifetime trip, this is the book to take. As a complete guide to all the mammalian fauna of the African continent, there are more than 460 species represented within its pages. Each entry is accompanied by beautiful, full colour illustrations, helping to make the identification process easier, and there are even line drawings helping you understand the behaviour of these incredible animals. Definitely one for the backpack.

Okavango: A Journey
By Robyn Keene-Young and Adrian Bailey
The stunning scenery and diversity of wildlife and ecosystems has drawn a whole host of incredible wildlife photographers to the African continent for decades. One such photographer is Adrian Bailey, a wonderfully talented wildlife photographer who decided to focus his attention on the unique Okavango Delta. With the help of author Robin Keene-Young, Bailey has succeeded in sharing some of the most jaw dropping images of this unique environment with the world through the publication of this book-shaped work of art. Buy it before you go on your safari to help the anticipation build, love it when you get back from your safari to keep the memories fresh.

Albee Yeend, Red Savannah's Africa specialist, first fell in love with Africa on a canoeing trip in Zambia. This was followed by three years running luxury safari camps and 13 years managing the Africa division of a well-known tour operator. Albee still occasionally throws herself out of a plane, rides elephants through the Okavango Delta or dives with Great Whites to keep life in perspective. Contact her at Red Savannah on 01212 787800 or inspired@redsavannah.com

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