Fascinating Nature Experiences | Namibia Tours

Books and Field Guides

Good field guides help make any tour a richer experience.  I've created a list of books that you might want to get if you're traveling to Namibia

Each book has an easy to follow Amazon link as well as my own recommendations.  Make sure you read what I have to say about each book before you buy it.  Some are tough to use, some are old and perhaps outdated.  Some are best for those with a casual interest and some have real substance. 


Sasol Birds of Southern Africa

by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Peter Ryan

Sasols Birds of Southern Africa is the standard field guide for many birders within the region.  It is far better than any Namibia specific bird books. 

This is the bird book I own and use all the time.  I highly recommend it for any birder visiting Namibia. 

Roberts Bird Guide: A Comprehensive Field Guide Over 950 Bird Species in Southern Africa

by Hugh Chittenden

This massive book is a wonderful resource to in-depth details on all the birds found in the southern Africa subregion.  It is a must for anyone wanting detailed knowledge of the birds of the region, but it's not a book to take out in the field. 

I own this book and love it.  It comes from a line of Roberts bird books in southern Africa. 

Roberts Geographic Variation of Southern African Birds

by Hugh Chittenden

This nice book has an ambitious goal, to show the variation in plumage found in Southern Africa's birds.  This is a really tough challenge. 

I do own the book, but haven't used it much.  I think this is partly just from the fact that I've been birding in much the same areas recently, and know the plumages fairly well were I travel.  But I'm sure for a traveler, it might be an excellent guide, especially if you're looking to travel and bird on your own. 

Photographic Guide to the Birds of Namibia

by Ian Sinclair

This little pocket guide isn't of much value to the serious birder, but if you just want something to give you a basic idea of what birds you're seeing in Namibia, it may be worth getting. 

I haven't used this book at all. 

Sasol Birds - The Inside Story

by Rael and Helene Loon

If you're the kind of person (like me) who doesn't just want field guides and a lot of ticking, but actually wants some substance to your experience, this book is packed with some interesting tidbits about birds from a southern Africa perspective. 

I do own a copy, and have used it mainly as a reference. 

Shorebirds: An Identification Guide to the Waders of the World

by Peter Hayman, John Marchant and Tony Prater

This book was written in 1991, and I'm not sure how relevant it still is, but I still lug it with me when I'm birding coastal wetlands.  For many travelers to Namibia the wetlands in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund provide a chance to see huge numbers of waders, and they can be tricky birds. 

I've owned this book for ages, and still use it from time to time. 

Birds of Africa South of the Sahara: Second Edition

by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan

This book is a bit big for use in the field, but I love having it on my shelf as a reference.  I use it mostly to flip through and dream of seeing some of the continent's most exotic birds. 

But I have used the first edition as a field guide in East Africa, and I guess if you were traveling around Africa a lot and only wanted one book, it would work. 


Namibia - Fascination of Geology

by Nicole Grunert

This is a wonderful little book for anyone traveling Namibia with an interest in geology.  For non-geologists geology is always a tough subject to get your head around, since you're looking at massive time scales and trying to understand vast geographic regions all together. 

But this little guidebook does a fantastic job of making the whole thing accessible to the enthusiastic Namibia traveler. 

I have used this book a lot, and I've owned a few well worn copies. 

Even if your interest in geology is simply casual, I'd recommend getting this book if you are visiting Namibia just because Namibia is a country where geology is obvious and exposed.  Namibia is dry, and so you don't have loads of pesky vegetation to get in your way of studying the rocks. 

The Roadside Geology of Namibia

by Gabi Schneider

This book covers the Geology of Namibia as would be experienced by most travelers through the country. 

I've never owned this book, and I've heard it's a tough book if you're not a geologist.  But the author is well regarded in the geology circles in Namibia, and I'm sure if you are a geologist, it would be worth looking at if you are planning to visit Namibia. 

Desert Ecology

The Namib: Natural history of an ancient desert

by Mary Seely

This book is old now, but still well worth reading.  Mary Seely was (and still is) one of the most respected desert scientists Namibia has ever known. 

This was one of the first books I owned when I came to Namibia and in the early days I studied it thoroughly.  

The Living Deserts of Southern Africa

by Barry Lovegroove

This book is by far the best book I've ever seen on desert ecology.  If you read the first three or four chapters and walk through the Namib you'll see examples of what he talks about all over the place. 

This book has become hard to come by, and was published in 1994.  It would be really fantastic if someone re-did the book as there are a few minor details that could use an update.  But I think it's still highly relevant, and recommend it to anyone planning to visit the dry regions of Namibia. 


The Sheltering Desert: A Classic Tale of Escape and Survival in the Namib Desert

by Henno Martin

This is a wonderful war time story of some geologists who escaped the draft by hiding away in the Namib Desert.  I've read it a couple of times and love the portrayal of the desert during that period. 

Henno Martin, the author, went on to become one of Namibia's most well respected geologists before his death a few years ago. 

The Skeleton Coast: Journey Through the Namib Desert

by Benedict Allen

This is a more recent Namibian story.  I haven't read this book, but I hear about it from all my guests.  I guess it must be good, and I'm sure I'll read it fairly soon. 


Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa: Revised Edition

by Chris and Tilde Stuart

This has been my field guide for many years, and I still love it.  I can't really say how it compares, since I haven't really spent much time trying to id the tough small mammals. 

But for anyone traveling Namibia in need of a decent mammal field guide, this one certainly is good enough. 

The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals

by Jonathan Kingdon

This is one of the must have books for any Africa travel enthusiast.  With all the antelope deep in the central African rainforests, it's fun just to flip through. 

I've never owned a copy, but had one when I managed guides in the Namib for many years. 

The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates

by Richard Estes

This book is a must for anyone traveling to wildlife areas in Africa.  It gives a great overview of behavior and really allows you to have some insight into the experiences you have watching Africa's fantastic larger mammals. 

I've had an earlier edition of this book and used it extensively. 

Trees and plants

Tree Atlas of Namibia

by Barbara Curtis and Coleen Mannheimer

This book gives a comprehensive overview of Namibia's trees.  I haven't used it much, but it seems useful. 


Insider's Guide: Top Wildlife Photography Spots in Botswana and Namibia

by Shem Compion

I have done business with Shem and so I'm bias on this one.  But Shem is a well regarded photographer, and has lead photographic tours for many years now.  If you'd like to photograph Namibia (or Botswana), you can hardly find better advice. 

The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop

by Jeff schewe

Recommended to me by a professional photographer, this book has really helped me understand the use of raw images. 

If you plan to do a proper photographic tour to Namibia, you'll want to brush up on your photographic tech know how.  This book will help you along in a big way. 


Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa

by Bill Branch

I love this book and have used it a lot.  I had the great pleasure of meeting Bill in the field and helping him with a new gecko species. 

This book is now outdated, but it's still the one I use in the field. 

General wildlife

Wildlife of South Africa: A Photographic Guide

by Duncan Butchart

Duncan is the person who designed the logo for Frantic Naturalist Tours and Safaris.  He is a renowned naturalist, and I've been really lucky to have spent some time in the field with him. 

This is another convenience book if you don't want to carry a lot, and though the focus is South Africa, much of it is still relevant to Namibia. 


Scorpions Of Southern Africa

by Jonathan Leeming

This is a fantastic little guide to the scorpions of Southern Africa.  Scorpions are characteristic creatures of dry areas, and it can be fun to get out and find them on warmer nights. 

I've had and used this book a lot. 


I haven't found this book on Amazon, but one of the most interesting books on Namibia I've flipped through is Treasures of the Diamond Coast by Gabi Schneider.


Another book I also recommend highly but can't find on Amazon is Touring Sesriem and Sossusvlei by Peter Bridgeford

Disclaimer:  The Amazon links to the books on this page are all Amazon Affiliate links.  The books I've linked to that aren't on Amazon are not affiliate links. 

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