When it comes to travel and planning, I find myself immersed in books rather than Google. Prior to any trip, I love to read about my destination, it allows one a pre-look into some of the experiences and adventures on offer to you, storytelling is at its best form through personal experiences. I’ve always believed that when traveling to new destinations, going “local” is always my preferred route, and learning about countries and people through books, I find, is a wonderfully immersive experience one can have before actually getting there. I find that books about Africa are particularly insightful and interesting and will have you even more excited to arrive on your safari.
For any of you avid readers, or those interested in learning a little more about some of Londolozi and South Africa’s most insightful storytellers, here is a list of my top 8 recommended books to read before you travel to Londolozi.
8 Books About Africa…
1. The Full Circle To Londolozi and Back Again – A Family’s Journey by Dave Varty
The gripping story of how John and Dave Varty entered an adventure that would transform conservation across the African continent, and globally too. Dave’s journey has been one of discovery and rediscovery – bringing him full circle, from a small family-owned and operated game lodge to tourism mogul and conservation kingpin, and back to Londolozi – his original family farm. Part memoir, part motivational manifesto, The Full Circle reminds us of the grit and determination required to follow your calling and the sacrifices needed to make the world a better place for wildlife and, ultimately, for mankind. One can find this book in the Londolozi Safari Boutique…
2. Cathedral of the Wild – Boyd Varty
I remember reading Boyd Varty’s book, Cathedral of the Wild before arriving at Londolozi a few years ago. I couldn’t believe the life experiences, lessons, successes, challenges and adventures growing up at Londolozi held for him. An unconventional upbringing, Boyd learnt how to track animals, raised leopard and lion cubs, survived harrowing rhino charges, a vicious crocodile attack, and even a debilitating bout of malaria. Boyd’s story is that of transformation, reconnecting with nature and rediscovering his tracks in his life.
3. Changing a Leopards Spots – Alex van den Heever & Renias Mhlongo
World-renowned wildlife trackers, and master storytellers, Alex and Renias have spent over 2 decades working together, tracking leopards and lions here at Londolozi, jaguars in South America and grizzly bears in the United States. They share the stories lived together, that will no doubt have you on the edge of your seat and hysterical with laughter. These two men have forged an unbreakable bond, through challenging each other and learning from one another and have experienced some unbelievable adventures. A must read to understand more about how together they founded the Tracker Academy, and most recently the Rhino Guardians through the Londolozi Ripple Fund.
4. Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary lifestory is one I recommend wholeheartedly to understand the most inspiring man that ever lived. Essential reading for anyone travelling to South Africa, or wanting to understand more about South Africa’s history, on how this remarkable man fought an epic struggle, dealt with countless setbacks, spent more than a quarter-century in imprisonment, created renewed hope in South Africans and all around the world, he received the ultimate achievement winning a Nobel Peace Prize for his continued fight for equality, and the triumph of becoming president of South Africa. He is still revered globally as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.
During my long walk to freedom, I had the rare privilege to visit Londolozi. There I saw people of all races living in harmony amidst the beauty that mother nature offers – Nelson Mandela
5. The Elephant Whisperer – Lawrence Anthony
Lawrence Anthony devoted his life to animal conservation, protecting the world’s endangered species. He was asked to accept a “rouge” herd of wild elephants on his Tula Tula game reserve in Zululand, South Africa. Dangerous and unpredictable, the herd would be killed if Lawrence didn’t take them in – he was the herd’s last chance of survival. Anthony risked his life forming a bond with the unsettled elephants, and the years that followed he became apart of their family, one of the herd. This is a magnificent read that demonstrates the power of animal protection, connection to nature, life, loyalty, freedom and love. To all the adventurous souls and animal lovers, this one is for you.
6. The Lion’s Tracker’s Guide to Life – Boyd Varty
Lion tracker, life coach, and gifted storyteller Boyd Varty reveals how ancient wisdom can teach you how to recognize the essential ingredients that create a meaningful life. Everyone is trying to find their path in life, whether it’s making the next career move, choosing a partner, navigating relationships with family and friends or carving a different route. People who learn to “track” create lives that are unique, unconventional, and full of purpose. When reading Boyd’s book, you will learn the skills required for actual lion tracking, but the takeaways are guiding principles and strategies that can be applied to our everyday lives. Trackers learn how to use all of their senses to read the environment and enter into a state of “greater aliveness.” A brilliant book describing that when we find and follow our inner tracks, we learn to appreciate what is deeply important.
7. Blood Sisters – Barbara & Stephanie Keating
Three girls become blood sisters during their childhood years in the Kenya Highlands in 1957. When the girls are separated by distance and by family obligation, the three women are thrown into a larger world of conflicted interests. Time and again their bond is nearly destroyed, and their friendship becomes a backdrop for competing love and broken promises. Blood Sisters is the tale of painful transition from the innocent ideals of childhood to the demands of reality amid the cataclysmic events of the African continent.
The last book that we recommend you read before travelling to Londolozi is not your normal casual reading book, but it will however come in handy prior to your safari by getting acquainted with the wonderful birdlife we see in abundance here.
8. Roberts Bird Guide
The Roberts bird guide covers nearly 1000 species found in southern Africa, featuring stunning artwork detailing seasonal, age and sexual differences in approximately 240 annotated colour plates, distribution maps, breeding and seasonality bars, identification, food and voice. The Roberts bird guide is downloadable, and is available in the app store so that you are able to build your birding list while on game drive!
Of all the wonderful reading material there is out there, these 8 books are my personal favourites. If you don’t get the chance to read all of these books before your trip to Londolozi, bring them along with you – there are plenty of beautiful cozy, poolside, and private places for you to get lost in your reading in the best places to read a book at Londolozi.