An African safari is arguably one of the most alluring and easily understood dreams of our time. Just the thought of an African safari evokes thoughts of adventure, a journey through nature's greatest spectacle, a glimpse of the earth before man. African Safari is an exploration of all that the word safari encompasses, from journeys on horseback and dugout canoes, the quiet drifting of a balloon and the tension of waiting on foot to the smell of dung, soil and the rain. African Safari is an intimate odyssey through the great wilderness of Africa and an eye on its wild denizens, spiced with the echoes of a romantic history. African Safari is divided into eight chapters: South Africa (Kruger & the Kgalagadi), Namibia (Etosha, Damaraland and Kaokaland), Botswana (Okavango, Chobe, and Linyanti), Zimbabwe (Mana Pools and the Zambezi), Zambia (North and South Luangwa), Tanzania (Ngorongoro and the Serengeti), Kenya (Masai Mara, Amboseli, and Tsavo), and Rwanda & Uganda (Parc des Volcans and Mgahinga).
As the black-and-white cover would suggest, this is not yet another portfolio of wildlife photography, although undoubtedly there are some stunning wildlife images in the book. In terms of genera, it is closer to art than natural history. The images are varied and are in a style that readers would associate with publications such as National Geographic whose articles carry a mix of images spanning wildlife, landscapes and people. The book is woven around a collection of beautifully written essays on some of Africa’s iconic game reserves. The essays are varied in topic, but on the whole, the words and pictures produce a book that captures the romance of being on safari. It is not a guide to watching wildlife or where to go. But anyone who has been on safari in Africa and experienced the more upmarket lodges and or appreciates the finer things in life will identify with this book. The wildlife images include several eye-catching classic images of elephants photographed close up and low, with a wide-angle lens, capturing the texture of their rough skins. But the authors cum photographers also show that sometimes less of the animal is more with elephants and other animals set in a wider landscape with the big skies of Africa over them. The art book feel is accentuated by a generous use of black and white images of wildlife as well as people and landscapes. With a trip to Zambia coming up with the itinerary covering South Luangwa National Park, the River Zambezi and Victoria Falls, I obviously turned to the chapters relevant to these locations first. The book’s chapters cover 9 African countries; South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. These countries are fortunate to have two people who are talented to be able to both write and photograph with empathy and poetic feeling. With the focus of the essays and images being on capturing the spirit of Africa, the book will not date. People who have travelled in Africa will long to visit again.
Peter and Beverly Pickford are among Africa's most celebrated wildlife photographers and authors. Their work has consistently received critical acclaim, and has appeared regularly in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic. Their previous publications include The Miracle Rivers and Forever Africa.