There’s something about the stories of adventurers that inspire us to start our own journey. Here’s our list of tales straight out of Africa, including the story of a man who crossed the continent in the name of love and the memoirs of the first pilot to cross the Atlantic “the hard way.”
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
Written under a masculine nom de plume, Karen Blixen’s work is a touching memoir of life on her plantation in Kenya. Between detailed portraits of the landscapes and people, the Danish Baroness describes her experiences in British East Africa before World War II, including a nocturnal lion hunt, getting to know the local population and nursing an orphaned antelope back to health.
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Known as the first pilot to cross the Atlantic from east to west, female bush pilot Beryl Markham also made a name in the literary world with her chronicle of growing up in Kenya in the early 1900’s—Hemmingway said it was written so well that he was ashamed of his own work. Markham’s tales range from playing with the local Maruni children to her vocations of scouting elephants from her plane and training racehorses to her legendary flight.
Safari Jema: A Journey of Love and Adventure from Casablanca to Cape Town by Teresa O’Kane
Tired of owning a heap of travel books, but never traveling to any of the places she read about, this award-winning author, told her husband “I’m tired of storing our dreams. Let’s live them!” The couple took a career break, leased their house and bought a one-way ticket to Morocco. O’Kane’s entertaining account of their journey includes 17 countries and innumerable insights into the adventures to be had on the continent.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison
At the age of 19, the Australian-born Allison left home for the African wilderness and never looked back. In his memoirs, he recounts his experiences as a safari guide, the travelers he takes on each adventure and the unpredictable nature of life in the wilds of Botswana. Allison’s wit and humor shines through in anecdotes about strange encounters with animals and losing his way in the desert, bringing the reader right along with him.
Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith
In 1900, British explorer Ewart Grogan stepped foot in Cairo and earned himself the distinction of being the first person to walk the length of Africa. Originating in Cape Town, his journey of two and a half years was inspired by love—and his subsequent induction into the Royal Geographic Society proved just the distinction to sway his beloved’s aristocratic stepfather. Over a century later, Julian Smith found himself in a similar situation, and sought Grogan’s route to love and acceptance. In his book, Smith weaves his own story with that of Grogan into a seamless tale of love and adventure.
What books are on your reading list?