Top 5 Must-read Travel books

Must-read Travel books


The 100th issue of Leisure Wheels, which goes on sale this week, features an adventure guide sponsored by Yokohama. It is packed with articles regarding adventure activities such as rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, gorilla tracking, endure biking and, of course, off-road driving.


Hopefully you’ll have as much fun reading it as we had compiling it. We’re also hoping that it will whet your appetite for excitement and encourage you to go in search of adventure. After all, what is the use of owning a hardcore 4×4 if you don’t use it to have fun?
That said, however, we don’t all have the time and money necessary to dedicate ourselves exclusively to adventure activities. Sure, some people have the luxury of being able to spend a year unicycling through Africa or crossing the Pacific Ocean on a raft made of Coke bottles, but most of us have to work.
So if you’re desperate for an adrenaline fix, why not indulge in a bit of vicarious adventuring? Below are some of my favourite general travel and adventure books (I posted my favourite travel books on Africa yesterday). I’ll also be posting my favourite books on other adventure activities such as mountain biking, hiking, trail running and mountaineering as the week goes on. Who knows? They might inspire you to pursue your own crazy adventure dream!

Note: Not all of these books are widely available in South Africa. However, most can be ordered on, and all the titles can be downloaded on Also, you do not need to own a Kindle to read Amazon’s e-books. You can read them on your computer or tablet (there is a Kindle app available for Apple and Android tablets).


1. The Unconquered – Scott Wallace

National Geographic contributor Scott Wallace was given a unique opportunity to accompany the legendary Brazilian explorer and social activist Sydney Possuelo as he attempted to locate one of the last uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. Wallace, Possuelo and the rest of his team spent three months travelling through the jungle. Wallace’s account of the journey is fascinating and exciting, but it is also harrowing, as it reveals how an ancient way of life is being forced into extinction.

Click here to buy online


2. The Lost City of Z – David Grann

What happened to Percy Fawcett? This is the question that obsesses David Grann, an investigative journalist for the New Yorker, in the Lost City of Z. Fawcett disappeared in the Amazon in 1925 while searching for a fabled lost city. Grann follows in the footsteps of Fawcett, attempting to discover what happened to the great explorer and his mythical city. Equal parts travel book, adventure story and biography, this tale of Fawcett’s (and Grann’s) obsessive attempts to find the City of Z are astounding.

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3. The Wrong Way Home – Peter Moore

Like Moore’s Swahili for the broken-hearted (mentioned yesterday), The Wrong Way Home is a wonderfully entertaining book about overland travel. Tired of London and eager to return home to Australia, Moore decides to cash in his meagre savings and travel overland through Europe and Asia. His ability to roll with the punches and make the best of bad situations is an excellent example for other travellers. Moore doesn’t even let a war in the Balkans prevent him from travelling and exploring!

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4. Down Under – Bill Bryson

Australia is a dangerous place. Its coastline harbours the dreaded box jelly fish (one of the most venomous creatures in the world. Its Outback is dry, hot and remorseless. Its reptiles and insects are just about the most dangerous on Earth. So predictably, Bill Bryson is a bit on edge while travelling through the country. But he also finds that Australia has a lot of good things to offer. This is arguably one of the funniest travel books ever written. If you read only one of Bryson’s travel books, make sure it is this one.

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5. Over the Edge of the World – Laurence Bergreen

Magellan’s sixteenth-century circumnavigation of the globe is one of the greatest adventures of all time. The trip was difficult. It took more than three years and forced the crew to deal with countless obstacles, but it changed humanity’s view of the planet forever. Biographer and journalist Laurence Bergreen spins a wonderful yarn, bringing the epic voyage to life.

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Tomorrow: My 5 favourite hiking and trail running books.