Tanzania: pre-trip reading list?

Aug 1st, 2004, 09:13 AM
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Tanzania: pre-trip reading list?


My wife and I are planning our first to trip Africa in January, 2005. I have read some really excellent posts and information on this site and thanks to all. We will be going to Tanzania and our basic itinerary is:

- Attempt Kilimanjaro via Machame Route, 7 nights
- Northern circuit safari, 13 nights
- Zanzibar - 6 nights

I can provide full details if anyone is interested.

So we have about six months before we leave. My question is what should we read in this time to get the most out of our trip? This could include the following types of books;

- Natural history, wildlife. To better understand the ecosystems we will be visiting. As an aside to this question, what is the best compact sized field guide to carry with us? It should have both the important mammals and the birds that we are likely to see.

- Personal narratives. Anything from "Out of Africa" to Rick Ridgway's "The Shadow of Kilimanjaro", which my wife is now reading and highly recommends.

- Readable history of the region and/or good historical fiction.

- Photo books. I've seen Art Wolfe's "Africa", but have not had a copy in my hand yet.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Nelson is online now  
Aug 1st, 2004, 09:23 AM
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The book the National Audubon Society Field Guide to East African Wildlife was an excellent carry-along reference for us this past June. Suggest your search also include an internet one of simply typing in names of parks or reserves. Lots of good information on wildlife expected as well as ecology, geology etc. Have a great time getting ready for the trip.
rsnyder is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 10:03 AM
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Excellent question! You will enjoy your trip so much more with good pre-reading.

Let's see...some of these will be more Kenya-oriented, but still give a sense of history, both natural history and of man.

Peter Matthiessen's "The Tree Where Man Was Born"-- superb!! About both Tanzania and Kenya.

The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley is an incredibly beautiful memoir of a childhood in colonial Kenya.

A recent book, about the last few decades in East Africa, Dark Star Safari, by Paul Theroux (warning: not about wildlife safaris! But an excellent and challenging travelogue by a writer who returns to Africa after serving in the Peace Corps as a young man.

The recent German film "Nowhere in Africa", available on video/DVD

Lots more...let's see what others have to say.

tashak is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 10:17 AM
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Robert Sapolsky's A PRIMATE'S MEMOIR.

I posted a review of it in this forum which might interest you:


His accounts focus on Kenya but should still be of interest.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 11:27 AM
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The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals by Richard Estes is excellent for learning how to interpret basic behaviors for all of the key mammals.

The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals is the definitive guide for mammals. It retails for around $45 but you can order a copy from Amazon for around $30.

For some more in-depth reading The Serengeti Lion is an exceptional natural history book that combines tremendous research without overwhelming a non-scientists written by George Schaller who is probably the greatest conservation biologist ever.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for the replies everyone! I'll start keeping a list. In particular I will certainly check out Matthiessen and Schaller. I have read some of their other work and have always enjoyed it.

Likewise Theroux, I wasn't aware, but am not surprised, that he has written of Africa.

Coincidentially, my copy of "The Safari Companion" arrived from Amazon the other day. It does look really excellent, but maybe a bit too big to carry around on the trip. We'll decide on that.

Kavey, thanks for A Primate;s Memoir. Will check it out. By the way, how did you make a link? Did you just use HTML tags, or does Fodor's have some other method? I tried some HTML tags in my first post, but they didn't work, at least in the preview mode.

Thanks again, and looking forward to more!
Nelson is online now  
Aug 1st, 2004, 02:53 PM
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Am very interested in the full details of your safari...where you're heading, how many nights, the lodges, etc.
Also would love to know what tour operator you are using for your Kili climb.
I may have an opportunity to climb it in July of '05. It's something I have always wanted to do as well.

Sounds like you're in for a great adventure.

divewop is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 07:47 PM
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We are going with http://www.tanzania-adventure.com/index.htm. They are apparently a relatively new kid on the block, but I got very good vibes from them and they have arranged a nice custom tour all-inclusive for my wife and me. They are handling everything: Kili, the safari, lodges, internal flights, and Zanzibar. There were lots of options and lots of good people out there, but we finally chose them.

Testing HTML:
<a href="http://www.tanzania-adventure.com/index.htm">Tanzania Adventure</a>

The details of our trip, which begins mid January:
- On Kili I have added two extra nights to the most typical Machame itinerary. One during the ascent at Karanga camp as an added acclimatization day. This breaks up the Barranco - Barufu leg into two days. (Actually, it turned out this outfitter does that as standard procedure). The second extra night is on summit day, we plan to just return to Barafu camp, rather than continue on a brutal descent down to Mweka the same day.

The Safari is:
- 3 nights at Tarangire Tented Camp.
- 1 night near Lake Manyara at Maasi Village (E Unoto Lodge)
- 1 night near Ngorongoro, Plantation Lodge
- 2 nights private tented camping, Ngorongoro
- 3 nights Ndutu Lodge
- 3 nights private camping, Serengeti

Then the luxury part on Zanzibar:
- 4 nights Mapenzi Beach Club
- 2 nights Emerson & Green Hotel, Stonetown

So a mix of roughing it and lodges, not travelling too far on any given day. Its a style that suits us. We're excited about it! Our first trip to Africa!
Nelson is online now  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 12:44 AM
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You can only make links to FODORS pages and those are automatic - you just paste in the URL. Other addresses are only shown as text.

Re the Richard Estes book - whilst I agree it's great for information it's NOT good for identification. Usually just one image is given for a related group of animals so it can be hard to tell them apart and the images are just pencil drawings. I'd opt for a different field guide next time for sure.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:56 AM
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?African Diary,? by Bill Bryson.
?Out of Africa? and ?Shadows on the Grass,? by Isak Dinesen (nee Karen Blixen)
?I Dreamed of Africa? and ?African Nights,? by Kuki Gallmann
?Cry of the Kalahari? and ?The Eye of the Elephant,? by Mark and Delia Owens
?Elephant Destiny,? by Martin Meredith
?Born Free,? by Joy Adamson
?Elephant Memories,? by Cynthia Moss
?Ghosts of Tsavo,? by Phillip Caputo
?Jambo Mama,? by Melissa Atwood
?Dangerous Beauty,? by Mark C. Ross
?Wildlife Wars,? by Richard Leakey
?The Shadow of Kilimanjaro,? by Rick Ridgeway
?Tall Blondes,? by Lynn Sherr
?I?d Rather Be On Safari,? by Gary K. Clarke
?The Flame Trees of Thika? and ?Red Strangers,? by Elspeth Huxley
?The Tree Where Man Was Born? and ?African Silences,? by Peter Matthiesen
?Safari, My Trip to Africa,? by Reginald Oliver Smythe (for children)
?The Snows of Kilimanjaro? and ?Green Hills of Africa,? by Ernest Hemingway
?Dancing with the Witchdoctor,? by Kelly James
?Facing the Lion, Growing Up Masai on the African Savanna,? by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton
?My Pride and Joy,? by George Adamson
?The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior,? by Tepilit Ole Saitoti
?The Africa Diaries: An Illustrated Memoir of Life in the Bush,? by Dereck and Beverly Joubert
?Living Free,? by Joy Adamson
?Forever Free,? by Joy Adamson
?A Lifetime with Lions,? by George Adamson
SusanLynne is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 03:36 AM
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WOW Susan!
That's an amazing list.
I'm off to add it to my Amazon wishlist right now!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 04:05 AM
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Ditto: WOW SUSAN! Thanks a lot.

Yep, off to amazon to have a look and add to my wish list. Also, I am going to type up a page with everyone's suggestions and keep it handy for when I'm in a bookstore or library.

But, I have to wonder what my wife will say if I bring home a book titled "Tall Blondes"?!
Nelson is online now  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 04:23 AM
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Happy, happy, holiday. Tree where man was born and flame trees wonderful books. I guess Karen Blixen's Out of Africa has been mentioned too.

You might also care to check out:
'Fantasic Invasion' by Patrick Marnham
'The Africans' by David Lamb
'Ukimwi Road' by Dervla Murphy
'The Scramble for Africa' Thomas Pakenham.

The first two are especially informative and not about wildlife at all.

alice13 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 07:34 AM
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Sorry about the ? marks. Cut and pasted the list from one of my Word documents. All the Adamson books on the list I had to purchase used, as most are not being printed anymore. Some are better than others (Dangerous Beauty, Cry of the Kalahari, Eye of the Elephant, Dancing with the Witch Doctor and African Diaries and Wildlife Wars are my personal favorites), but all have something to offer for anyone interested. Anyone heading to Selous may want to read Peter Matthiessen's "Sand Rivers." I can't say I enjoyed the book, but it did offer me a preview of what to expect when we went to Selous.
SusanLynne is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 10:01 AM
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2 of my favorite also are-

Winds of Havoc by Adelino Pires- This guy got kicked out of most African countries and was even tortured for two years in Mozambique, but a great, poignant read about Africa's problems and hope.

Rules of the Wild by Fraces Marciano- A pretty light, brainless read about moder "White Mischief" in Kenya, but a lot of fun.
tgfny is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Thanks once again for the replies everyone. Keep 'em coming! I may be going to a used book fair this weekend so I'll have list in hand and see what turns up. On a big trip like this we really like to do a lot of reading during the months approaching it.

I'll throw out a slightly obscure favorite of mine, unless you are into mountaineering books, in which case it always gets high marks:

"No Picnic on Mount Kenya" by Felice Benuzzi. It's the story of Italian POWs during WW II who escape their prison camp to climb Mount Kenya, then have to sneak back in. It's been re-issued in paperback and can be found on amazon.com. In spite of what one reviewer said, you don't have to be a climber to enjoy this one.
Nelson is online now  
Aug 10th, 2004, 01:24 PM
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Another vote for the books by the Owens. I had a chance to meet them several years ago- very nice people.
Gerald Durrell's books on his adventures in Africa are good. If you would really like to go back and read about Africa on how it once was the books by Martin and Osa Johnson are worth reading.

A great website for used, or out-of-print books is abebooks.com. When I discovered this site, I went overboard on my book buying.
rj007 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 11:34 PM
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If you want some advice when it comes to climbing Kili you should visit my homepage gardkarlsen.com I went to Kilimanjaro last year in September and I did the Machame route. On the homepage I have posted a day by day diary, pictures, links to Kili sites, review of equipment that I used etc. I hope it can be of some help

Stavanger, Norway
gard is offline  
Sep 4th, 2004, 07:24 AM
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rj007, Thanks for the info. I've known about ABE for some tiem, and they have received some of my dicrectionary spending money!

Gard, Thanks for the Kili site, Are you on summitpost.com? I've seen your website before, maybe it was a link from there? Anyway. its a great site and I'll dig deeper.

I'm in Singapore on business now and read Rick Ridgeway's "Shadow of Kilimnajaro" on the way over. Highly recommended. I've purchased "Out of Africa" for the return flight on Friday.
Nelson is online now  
Apr 13th, 2005, 04:22 PM
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Dear Nelson

I am getting married in July. We have found an itinerary on the tanzania-adventure website that's straight off our wish list, but I can't find any reviews of them anywhere (most reviews seem to be written by the tour guides anyway).

I would be very grateful for any news of how your trip went and what you thought of them.

Many Thanks

h3rne is offline  

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