Still so many mountains to climb, still so many books to write, says nature and environmental writer David Bristow. Stints on Johannesburg’s two biggest circulating dailies – The Star and The Sowetan – following a double honours degree in Journalism and Speech and Drama at Rhodes University – made him realise a desk job would not be the life for him.
Soon after returning from an expedition to Nepal he set off on an 18-month mountaineering odyssey that culminated in the best-selling coffee table book Mountains of Southern Africa (Struik, Cape Town, 1984). Since then he has authored some 20 books and written hundreds of travel articles – mainly on Africa but as far flung as Antarctica and Alaska. Some time in mid career David decided he needed a firmer grounding in the earth sciences. There followed a masters degree in Environmental Sciences at Cape Town University.
He met partner in this project Colin Bell when they were students, rock climbing on weekends and helping to collect data on endangered Cape vultures on cliff faces around South Africa. In the late 1980s, when Colin’s Wilderness Safaris was establishing itself as southern Africa’s foremost specialist safari operator, David found himself managing and guiding at Moremi Safaris’s camp at Xakanaxa in the Okavango Delta. Now living in Cape Town, David co-ordinated the Green Safari Africa project and wrote the text for Africa’s Finest, using primarily the research gathered by the various members of the team who over a two-year period conducted environmental assessments of around 170 hand-picked safari destinations.