Sub-Saharan Africa

This is very much a modified version of what geographically would normally represent an area referred to as Sub-Saharan Africa. Comprising predominantly those countries located south of the Sahara from Senegal in the West through Central Africa to Kenya in the East and down to the Cape of Good Hope.

4 and a half Stars

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Published: 2002
Countries: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa
Blurb: Dark Star Safari is a superb travelogue written in 2002 by one of the genre's finest writers, Paul Theroux. Eschewing game parks and sight seeing, and travelling the "hard way" through Africa by train, bus, truck and matatu, Theroux delivers an enthralling story of his journey down the road less travelled, especially when the road turns out to be the one that Osama bin Laden built whilst travelling in Sudan.   

4 stars

Blood River by Tim Butcher
Countries: Democratic Republic of Congo
Blurb: Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart is Butcher's recounting of his own journey retracing Henry Morton Stanley's exploration down the Congo River in 2004 and one which takes place during simmering hostilities from the preceding Second Congo War which occurred during 1998 to 2003. Able to draw on more than 10 years as a war correspondent, coupled with a wealth of knowledge from his African posting, Butcher delivers a book wrapped around his own journey and experiences that is extremely rich in history and geopolitical knowledge. 

Chasing the Devil by Tim Butcher
Published: 2010
Countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia
Blurb: Following faithfully in the footsteps of Graham Greene and his cousin as they embark at Sierra Leone in 1935 before setting off on a 4-week walk through Liberia and Guinea, Butcher and his companions David, Johnson and Mr Omaru likewise take on the West African jungle interior, travelling by foot through this much maligned and worn torn part of the world. 

Whatever You Do Don't Run by Peter Allison
Countries: Botswana
Blurb: Australian-born Peter Allison regales us with retellings of his experiences during his career as a safari guide in the Okavanga Delta in Botswana. Each relatively short chapter is self-contained and most of these which will have you laughing at the situations he and his “guests” find themselves in.

3 and a half stars

Facing the Congo by Jeffrey Tayler
Countries: Democratic Republic of Congo
Blurb: Facing an existential dilemma and dissatisfied with his western lifestyle, Tayler attempts to paddle close to 1,800 km down Africa’s second longest river, the Congo. His journey and story, divides itself neatly into two. The first comprises his trip by boat up the Congo and he wonderfully describes the dangers he faces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, both on land and on the river itself. During the second part of his journey by pirogue/dugout down the Congo, Tayler vividly describes the difficulties he faces with his companion Desi, evoking steaming images of the surrounding jungle countryside for which Africa’s heart of darkness is known.

Canoeing the Congo by Phil Harwood
Published: 2012
Countries: Democratic Republic of Congo
Blurb: An amazing five-month adventure story detailing the first ever canoeing descent of the Congo River from its true source of the Chambeshi in northeast Zambia to the Atlantic Ocean. Harwood provides a good amount of background history to the Democratic Republic of Congo and its many travails. Where this book really stands out, is the well research information on the Congo River itself.  A true adventurer and a journey for which Harwood was awarded the Mike Jones Canoeing Award, Harwood is a real-life Bear Grylls without the make-up.

3 stars

Torn Trousers by Gwynn & Andrew St. Pierre White
Countries: Botswana
Blurb: A charming and often times funny story about a husband and wife who decide to trade-in their Johannesburg life to manage a safari camp in Botswana's Okavango Delta.Having no experience of managing a safari camp, this is a story full of humourous anecdotes of their adventures and. most especially, the matatas they had dealing with staff, wildlife and the occasional rogue tourist. With alternating chapters written by each person, this is a book that focuses less on safari  experiences and more on the wildlife office politics, which differentiates this story from others. Certainly, one to read for anyone with rose tinted glasses thinking that the grass is greener over in safari camp.

Congo Journey by Redmond O'Hanlon
Countries: People's Republic of Congo
Blurb: Ostensibly, Congo Journey is a story about O'Hanlon's search through the unmapped forests of the People's Republic of the Congo, in search of a living dinosaur, the Mokélé-Mbembé. At a deeper level the book provides an expose of the Central-Congo Bantu peoples and Congo Pygmies who live on the land and waterways, their interaction with the wildlife and spiritual customs and beliefs.  It is not an easy read and at times is overly detailed but truly rewards the reader for the effort, not least by avoiding the usual African tropes. If you're looking for a thought-provoking, well written, alternative travel-lit book heavy on wildlife descriptions, then this definitely is the journey for you.

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Countries: South Africa
Blurb: King Solomon's Mines is a classic adventure novel that introduced the great white hunter Allan Quatermain to the world in the late 19th century. Written in personal narrative format (despite being fiction), the novel was hugely successful and tells the story of a group of Englishmen who set of into the hinterland of deep dark Africa in search of fabled treasure and the missing brother of one of their party.