There are literally hundreds of African safari books to choose from. I had a look through our home library and we have over seventy safari books!
Some are just coffee-table books that have nice photographs while others are more helpful and provide tips to the traveller.
It is important that you do a bit of research before you choose your African safari destination and the best way to do this is via this kruger-2-kalahari website where we discuss the various camps and bungalows and which are the best camps to photograph from, as well as the best routes for good game viewing - supplemented by some good African safari books.
Travel guides published by Bradt, Fodor's, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides cover all Southern and Eastern African safari destinations.
These guides are regularly updated so they contain the latest information.
When you go on an African safari you need to firstly find the animals in order to watch or photograph them.
If you cannot locate the leopard or cheetah you won't be taking home any photographs!
In order to find certain species you need to be aware of their behaviors and then in order to capture action images you need to anticipate what the animal is going to do and correctly identifying them and knowing their behaviors will give you a big advantage.
We have found the best animal behavior books to be The Behavior Guide to African Mammals, University of California Press, 1992 or The Safari Companion: a guide to watching African mammals, including hoofed mammals, carnivores, and primates, Chelsea Green Publishing, 1999 - both by Richard Estes.
These books are also good for animal identification but most map books sold at the camp shops have a section identifying all the common mammals, birds, trees etc found in each park.
In addition the these mammal behavior and identification guides there are specialist books on birds, trees and flowers, insects and reptiles, including books on scorpions, spiders and butterflies.
Many books have been published on each national park and game reserve.
Some of these books are out of print but most second-hand book dealers or Amazon.com should have them. The latest books will be stocked by the camp shops in the Kruger, Kgalagadi and Etosha.
These are some of the books we have on the Kruger National Park...
One of our favorite Kruger books is Kruger National Park by Peter Derichs as it combines detailed maps, animal identification, history, plant identification, meaning of place names, GPS co-ordinates of POI and origin of place names.
This is a very detailed, easy to use, guide to the Kruger National Park that covers the whole Park from north to south.
It has 287 full colour photographs covering all the main waterholes, camps and points of interest in the Park.
Click on the book cover for more information.
These are some of the books we have on the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (formerly known as the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park)...
Two of our favorite Kalahari books are The Kalahari - Survival in a Thirstland Wilderness, by Nigel Dennis and Peter Derich's Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Peter's book makes the ideal companion to our Photographer's Guide to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park as the two combined provide detailed maps, animal identification, plant identification, meaning of place names, GPS co-ordinates of POI (points of interest), origin of place names plus information on each waterhole and camp relating to nature and wildlife photography with practical photography lessons.
Click on the book cover for more information.
These are some of the books we have on Etosha National Park...
Our favorite Etosha book is Etosha, by Daryl and Sharna Balfour.
Unfortunately there hasn't been much published on the Pilanesberg and nothing that we can find on Madikwe Game Reserve. These are, however, the few publications we have on the Pilanesberg Game Reserve...
The above publications are out of print and outdated so we would not advise you try and get them.
When you arrive at the Pilanesberg you can purchase a guide to the Pilanesberg and / or a Pilanesberg map.
The Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust has a special discount on The Photographer's Guide to the Pilanesberg eBook - download the brochure for more information.
There are also many African safari books published on the East African national parks but we have found these park guides to have been the most useful...
You can get the most recent publications at the various camp shops in the national parks.
These shops will also stock detailed maps for the different national parks.
The above African safari books are specific to the various countries and parks in terms of general information and the photo books are generally coffee-table books, i.e. books that have nice photographs specific to a park or region but do not tell you how you can capture a similar photograph.
Photo Site Guides on the other hand provide how-to information specific to each national park. Most how-to photography books provide general photography information but do not relate it to each national park's specific camps and waterholes.
A site guide can be a hard / soft-cover book or an electronic eBook. We prefer eBooks because they are cheaper, easier to transport and very easy to keep updated.
After seeing many park visitors making silly mistakes and being asked for advice by other visitors we realised that there was a gap in the market and, after many months of writing, launched The Photographer's Guide to Etosha National Park eBook in March 2012, The Photographer's Guide to the Pilanesberg National Park eBook in January 2013 and in June 2014, The Photographer's Guide to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
"This eBook is packed with knowledge that can be applied to other parks, safaris and wildlife excursions via the photography lessons and additional advice for photographers"
- Amanda Ellis, Pretoria, South Africa
"Your time and money are valuable and the information in this book will help you save both."
- Don Stilton, Florida, USA
"This work is so much more than an eBook, because it is also a guide, a tutorial, an inspiration and a must-have for anyone interested in wildlife photography"
- Findtripinfo.com, USA
How we wished we could have had such site guides when we first started visiting the parks!! It would have made our task of finding and photographing animals in each park so much easier!
A big plus for eBooks is that you can take them with you on safari and refer to them while in the vehicle at the waterholes and camps.
1. I love this 'Pet Peeve' quote from Arthur Morris:
"Regular readers know that one of my pet peeves is folks who have $3000, $5000, $10 000, heck, even $20 000 or more worth of great photo gear and assume that their purchases will make them better photographers.
Study? Learn? Practice? No way. They believe that as long as they spend lots of money on great lenses and camera bodies that their skills will improve. Not!"
Arthur goes on to say that photographers who want to get better should be attending photo workshops and/or should be investing a few dollars in site guides but many photographers think that their expensive photo gear will automatically make them award-winning photographers, which is definitely wishful thinking!
2. "Gear is good, vision is better" is David duChemin's motto when it comes to photography.
"Focus on learning and gaining knowledge rather than buying camera after camera, lens after lens, hoping that each new purchase will make you a better photographer!"
3. Jay Patel, one of the top landscape photographers, says:
"Equipment doesn't matter if you don't know how to use it. Knowledge matters. I wish I'd known that before I poured all that money into gear and travel.
Instead of buying tons of gear, I should have been investing in knowledge".
Ask yourself if you really want to improve your photography skills and if the answer is 'yes' then the next question is 'how fast would you like to progress'? If you would like to improve quickly then investing in a site guide or attending a photo workshop is the quickest and easiest way!
Most good book stores, like Exclsive Books, CNA and the Kruger camp shops and Kgalagadi shop at Twee Rivieren in South Africa, should stock the more recent titles.
In Namibia the Etosha camp shops stock very little so I would suggest you stop off at 'Windhoeker Buchhandlung' in Windhoek, Namibia. They have a comprehensive selection of Etosha and other African Safari books.
For the older titles I would suggest you try Amazon.com or some of the second-hand bookstores like Book-dealers or Books Galore in South Africa.
To order Peter's Guide books please visit Peter's Guide website. In addition to his guide books on the Kruger and Kgalagadi he has published guide books on Addo and Augrabies National Parks with some new books as work in progress.
The above African safari books, maps and site guides are the ones that have inspired us and enabled us to better prepare for our many African safaris.
We hope these recommendations help you to capture inspiring images and to have a more enjoyable safari too!
"Having a passion for the region myself and having had to learn about all the dynamics, waterholes and ideal routes to drive over a period of 6 years - I wish I had this guide on my first trip already!" - Morkel Erasmus, Secunda, South Africa
"Mario and Jenny take you to spots that are not always visited, and their descriptions of the more remote camps will allow you to make an informed decision without wasting time and money" - Bob & Sherry Shepardson, DeBary, Florida, USA
"Your time and money are valuable and the information in this book will help you save both." - Don Stilton, Florida, USA
"I highly recommend the book to anyone visiting Etosha National Park to photograph the animals - or anyone considering an African photography safari in the future." - Anne Darling, Cognac, France
"As a photographer and someone who has visited and taken photographs in the Pilanesberg National Park, I can safely say that with the knowledge gained from this eBook, your experiences and photographs will be much more memorable." - Alastair Stewart, B C, Canada
"This work is so much more than an eBook, because it is also a guide, a tutorial, an inspiration and a must-have for anyone interested in wildlife photography" - Findtripinfo.com, USA