East Africa: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s East Africa guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Three classics, all of which provide atmospheric introductions to the region, are Peter Matthiessen’s The Tree Where Man Was Born, which offers a timeless portrayal of life on the East African plains; Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which deals with some of the larger questions of life in an East African setting; and Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, a nostalgic perspective on life in colonial-era Kenya.

Elspeth Huxley’s The Flame trees of Thika is another East African classic, filled with snippets that help convey the region’s magic.

More recent titles include The Shadow of Kilimanjaro – On Foot Across East Africa by Rick Ridgeway, a close-up look at East Africa from a hiker conservationist’s perspective and The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior – an Autobiography by Tepilit Ole Saitoti, a fascinating glimpse into Maasai life and culture.

If you’re travelling with children, look for the similar but easier to read Facing the Lion – Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton.

I Laugh So I Won’t Cry – Kenya’s Women Tell the Stories of Their Lives by Helena Halperin is on the academic side, but readable and full of insights into local life.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.