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amycyma Dec 4th, 2008 07:12 PM

What to read/research for my Botswana safari
I put down the deposit for my Botswana safari in May. I am looking for suggestions of reading material or websites that will enhance my trip.
Books/sites regarding the animals or flora.
tips on photography.
And anything else you all can think will help me.
again, i thank you for your thoughts

one2travel Dec 4th, 2008 08:25 PM

I like the Bradt series of guide books - just look for the one on Botswana.

Also I thought the eyes on africa website was very informative. See

Btw, I loved Botswana. Enjoy!

Mega4namaddy Dec 4th, 2008 11:03 PM

Hi amycyma- I was in Botswana in April 2005. Just loved it!
I returned for a more extensive trip to southern Africa, including Botswana recently.

I found the SASOL bird guide adequate for birds.

Vincent Carruthers 'The Wildlife of Southern Africa' is a good, small all round book which includes both flora and fauna including birds.If you look around you may find one that comes with a small companion book focusing on birds that is light and easy to take into the field.

To enrich your wildlife experience, you could pick up 'The Safari Companion- a Guide to watching African Mammals.' by Richard D Estes. It has extensive information about animals and their behaviour, habitats etc.

The Derek & Beverley Joubert films are almost all filmed in the Okavango. Here is their web site.


I'm sure there are much better photographers that me on the forum that could give you pointers, but I was happy with the results from my Canon Powershot fitted with a telephoto, only useing the in camera settings (auto mostly!) You will be seeing amazing things everyday- it won't be hard given the subject matter on offer to get pictures you will be proud to show at your slideshow that you will surely want to have when you get home. I took a piece of cloth, big enough to wrap the camera in while out on game drives to keep the dust out.

I check out this forum and the Wilderness Safari news site almost daily. Fodors for Africa travel news, links to field reports and trip photos from the recently returned. Wilderness mainly for wildlife sightings and pictures. I'm sure many of the other big names in the safari business have similar web feature I just prefer the Wilderness site.

Before I went on the last trip I often did a 'vertual safari' by visiting the web sites of the places I would be staying. This was a standard Sunday afternoon activity for about 3 months before I left.

There are many books and films about southern Africa in general and Botswana in particular- just remember- your going on safari, it costs a small fortune so you will need every cent you can get hold of, and you can only take 20kg of luggage with you! :)

I know you will have a great time.

Is it too early to start counting the sleep?


Gritty Dec 5th, 2008 06:41 AM

The book "Cry of the Kalahari" by Mark and Delia Owens might be of interest. They did brown hyena research in what is now the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

napamatt_2 Dec 5th, 2008 08:07 AM

It's fun to read other people's trip reports and look at their pictures.

ShayTay Dec 5th, 2008 08:59 AM

The camps often post newsletters on their websites, so check with the outfitter with whom you are staying. I have also enjoyed reading the "Number One Ladies Detective Agency" series of books by Alexander McCall Smith. They are set in Gabarone, but you feel the rhythm of life in Botswana and get insights into their culture.

amycyma Dec 5th, 2008 02:01 PM

I am absolutely hooked onto this site, so I am reading the posts, and trip reports.
I have read several of the AM Smith books, which i throughly enjoy. but I will have my son read one.
Thanks for the tips on the books, I will start a "Wish list on Amazon with the titles of the various animal and bird guide books you all mentioned.

Also thanks for the link to the film, and the other website on Africa.

As far as a camera, i will be taking my husband's Nikon D80, but I am not sure what new lens to get for it. ( he has a 18-135 on it, but i think i want more telephoto, but no too big. what do people find good and not too cumbersome
My son might do some digital video stuff.

ShayTay Dec 5th, 2008 02:44 PM

You might consider renting a Nikon 70-300mm VR lens from a place like It's currently renting for $79 for a two-week rental, insured. It's a 2-pound lens, which is not as hefty as the 80-400, which is about 3 pounds.

atravelynn Dec 5th, 2008 05:52 PM

Glad to see you are no longer pursuing the sling shot.

Can you share with us the final result of all those possibilities?

These are some good book suggestions here.

This is a silly light weight suggestion if you are going to the Kalahari. Check out the movie "The Gods Must be Crazy" and the sequel, TGMBC 2.

In any of the guide books are Setswana phrases. You could work on learning a few of them and carrying the translations with you. It's fun to try out a few words with the staff.

You can look at news stories on to keep up before leaving home.

I take my own bird book. For Botswana, I have Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. Most of the reading material I take with me is made up of paperbacks that I've acquired with the intent of leaving when I'm done to shed luggage weight.

Depending on the camps you booked, you can keep up with sightings online. For example Wilderness has updates approx. monthly.

Depending on who you booked with, you may be getting a reference guide with some birds, animals, etc.

Lens: 300 is the lowest I'd take. Whatever the setup, practice lots with it before leaving home.

Does your son know about this or will you surprise him with a stocking stuffer?

Here is something else that might help you take as much as you can on the international flight so you have your most precious gear when you get there: a safari/photographer's vest. You can stuff all those pockets full, leaving more room in your carry-on luggage. I never wear the safari vest on the actual safari, just on the plane and not just enroute to a safari but to any place where I'd be in trouble if my certain belongings did not arrive with me.

Congratulations on your trip. You're in for quite the adventure.

Treepol Dec 5th, 2008 11:49 PM


here are a few more Botswana books:

Clark, June Vendall - Starlings laughing

Kay, June - Thirteen moons

Davies, Caitlin - A Place of reeds

Harper, Beverley - People of heaven

Joubert, Beverly - Hunting with the moon

Joubert, Beverly - Relentless enemies

Joubert, Dereck - Bush diaries

Randall, Will - Botswana time

Scott, Robyn - Twenty chickens for a saddle

Happy reading,


PacoAhedo Dec 6th, 2008 01:55 AM

The first time i went on safari 6 years ago i read this tips about wildlife photo technique and try to follow them.Six years later i still find them interesting for amateur photographers:

I will go with a tele 400mm. A 300 may be a bit short for Botswana, but it just dependS how serious you are about photography.

Whatever you choose take the time to practice with the lens before you go.

One idea;i always read as much as i can about the wildlife,accommodations,guiding etc of the locations we are visiting.

Then my wife (that donīt read nothing about it) says she enjoy everything much more than me because everything is a surprise for her and my big expectations are not always fullfill by the trip.
Just donīt get too obsess about reading (after six safaris i still am) and let the wonders of Botswana surprise you,i am sure you will.

Good luck.


atravelynn Dec 6th, 2008 06:42 AM

Paco, you're wife has a good deal. You do all the homework for the both of you.

amycyma Dec 6th, 2008 03:23 PM

A Kindle
my brother in law has one, and i used it briefly over the Thanksgiving weekend we were with him. I am not completely sure how it works, but he seems to have a TON of books on it. and claims it holds a charge a long time. so as my birthday comes before we go, and my husband, who just ADORES gadgets, wants to get me something i might go for that then i can put all the reading materials on it for the plane, and some of the other books Trepol suggested.
as far as the suggestions that have been given to me, i definitely want Cry of the Kalahari, sounds right up my alley in terms of books, so thank you for that suggestion Gritty, but might read that on the plane over.
as far as guides, i likes the Estes book The Safari Companion Guide to watching animals, as it discusses their behavior. as far as a bird book Thanks for the Newmans book Lynn as the other one SASOL was very expensive.
Thanks for the photo link Paco, i am like you read, research, that way when i am told things by the guides or other guests, having read it, it has more meaning and doesn't go in one ear and out the other.
And yes i need to got the photo equipment sooner rather than later so i can practice. in the mean time i should at least practice with the lens on the camera as it is, as i haven't used it at all.
the photo vest sounds like a good idea, as i will need to get alot of stuff onto the planes in my actual posession.
i appreciate all this wonderful info.

I haven't ordered them yet, they are all sitting in my shopping cart at Amazon.

atravelynn Dec 7th, 2008 06:36 AM

Paco, you're wife

Oops, Paco, I just called you a wife. I meant your wife.

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