Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari” as Want to Read:
The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,609 ratings  ·  366 reviews
“Happy again, back in the kingdom of light,” writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey through the continent he knows and loves best. Theroux first came to Africa as a twenty-two-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, and the pull of the vast land never left him. Now he returns, after fifty years on the road, to explore the little-traveled territory of western Africa ...more
Kindle Edition, 373 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Train to Zona Verde, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Alick Chingapi This might be in the "DarkStar Safari" when comes to Africa and goes from Cairo To Cape Town. He journeyed on Lake Victoria as we as on Lake Malawi on…moreThis might be in the "DarkStar Safari" when comes to Africa and goes from Cairo To Cape Town. He journeyed on Lake Victoria as we as on Lake Malawi on a dug out canoe to Mocambqiue. I have recently read the "Last Train to Zon Verde" and I do not recall a trip where this was said. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,609 ratings  ·  366 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
”Angolans lived among garbage heaps---plastic bottles, soda cans, torn bags, broken chairs, dead dogs, rotting food, indefinable slop, their own scattered twists of excrement--and in one town a stack of dead cows, bloated from putrefaction, looking like a forgotten freight load of discarded Victorian furniture, with the sort of straight stiffened legs you see fixed to old uncomfortable chairs. This blight was not ‘darkness,’ the demeaning African epithet, but a gleaming vacancy, the hollow of ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To me, the publication of a travel book by Paul Theroux is a literary event. He is not just my favorite travel writer...he is one of my favorite writers period. He is a keenly intelligent observer of people and places. I like that he when he travels, he avoids big cities and common tourist destinations. He gets around by foot (Kingdom by the Sea); by train or bus (Riding the Iron Rooster); or even by kayak (The Happy Isles of Oceania). I also like that he has no qualms about occasionally getting ...more
In 2011 Paul Theroux traveled from Cape Town, South Africa, through Namibia to Angola, also taking a side trip to visit a luxury game park in Botswana. He writes of this journey in The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari. Having traveled a decade earlier, southward along the eastern side of Africa in Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, now he travels northward along the western side of the continent. He would revisit places in South Africa and Namibia and observe ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, travel
It seems that Paul Theroux does have a breaking point. It is Angola. Angola was the place that finally made him throw down his pack and say, "F- this." Wow. If Paul Theroux can't hack it, I know I'm never, never, never going there.

I was in the audience when Paul Theroux gave a talk about this book recently, and he's exactly as I imagined he would be. The great, gruff travel writer is a man who speaks his mind, has strong and often unpopular opinions, and is afraid of very little in this world.
May 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was dismal. Paul Theroux struggles with what he says will be his last trip to Africa because of his advancing age. He also struggles with the life he finds in South Africa, Namibia and Angola, countries rife with poverty, graft, crime and miserable human conditions. It's as if the things he sees and the people he meets reflect his own dark mood. And few good things come out of either. I've read most of Theroux's travel books and always felt as though I learned something and was ...more
Simon Fay
Paul Theroux was a bit lost on this one. I know because he complained about it every other page. 'Why am I here?' is a constant question that pads the text, just as often substituted with, 'What's the point?'

It's fair to say that doubt, both in himself and civilisation as a whole, is a theme that occupies the majority of the book, and though he paws around the dirt to find some answers, in most cases he can only come up with half-hearted justifications for why he would suffer a journey in which
aPriL does feral sometimes
An interesting travelogue comparing journeys fifty years apart.

‘The Last Train to Zona Verde’ is one of those books one wishes had been better written. Unfortunately, there was annoying emotional moaning about the state of African cities in almost every chapter. It degraded my reading experience. I agree with author Paul Theroux’s opinions, however. But Theroux spent a little too much time telling, not showing, because of his disappointment and shock.

I have never traveled in Africa so I cannot
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found Paul Theroux's "The Last Train to Zona Verde" a thoroughly enjoyable ride. Some brilliant insights into the lives and appalling living conditions of the populations inhabiting South Africa, Namibia and Angola. There are some side-effect history lessons along the way, including a fascinating bit about Bono from U2 supporting a horrible political figure and his campaign song to "Kill the Boer". Who knew?

I'm not a big reader of travel literature (I did read "The Songlines" by Bruce Chatwin
John Behle
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now in his early 70s, Paul Theroux sees and writes with the caustic, hard earned eye of this weary world wayfarer. Theroux loves Africa, delights in each rumination, each across-the-room view of well fed sassy tourists, each tirade of another corrupt African government.

I have read all of Theroux's travel books, starting with his 1975 smash "The Great Railway Bazaar". I devoured each page as if I were riding in the carriage of The Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur next to him. Now, whenever I am on a
Lawrence Lihosit
Something has happened to Mr. Theroux's writing. Whereas early travel books seemed to exaggerate his personal dislikes (bordering on arrogance) while hiding some painful truth (like his impending divorce in The Old Patagonian Express), this book gives the impression of honesty, humility and even kindness. He paints a brutal picture but then again, based upon his almost constant travel to Africa over decades, maybe it is an accurate depiction.

I drove three hours to hear him speak at a book
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
No iron roosters or express trains here. A very misleading title and not the book he intended to write when he started his trip. Probably one of his best books and it's not a happy book. You have to admire him, a 70 year old, taking on a trip alone like this. No trains in this one despite the title-it's the trip not taken-it's all by bus and car. Theroux is quite opinionated, some would say elitist at times-loathes foreign aid, noble Bushmen image, etc... He stays in opulent digs occasionally ...more
Max Carmichael
Oct 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The best travel writers - most of them long gone, like Freya Stark - are people who live life fully, love their lives, and infect us with their passion. They travel for some reason other than just writing a book, immersing themselves physically in exotic cultures and describing exotic places with lyricism and exotic people with respect and compassion. Theroux, however, like other ironic post-modernists, doesn't really seem to have a life outside traveling and writing, and he clearly doesn't love ...more
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Not so long ago, I did a review of a book by Julian Barnes at this site where one of the key passages within the novel struck me as fundamentally important, i.e. that to understand any historian's commentary, one had first to understand the history or life of the historian whose account we are attempting to evaluate. This seems simple enough but such a preliminary step can be elusive and in reading a few reviews of Paul Theroux's recent & perhaps final travel adventure, The Last Train to ...more
William Koon
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last a very sad book. As a former Africanist, I weep for the continent and Theroux's brilliant exegesis . I am also saddened when I respond to Theroux's comments upon his aging and his future travels. Sadly, there is no hope, no future for this West Africa. His final chapter rivals any version of hell, be it Nathaniel West's or Dante, that I have ever read. Theroux is simply the greatest travel writer of our time.
Steve lovell
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to be taken into the heart of darkness, to perhaps the vilest country on the face of the planet, then Paul Theroux is your man. Why, in doing so we'll even find the modern day Mr Kurtz waiting.

The question has to be asked as to why, at age 70, would anyone want to travel alone to somewhere he knew full well was a foul and foetid country? It would be beyond my comprehension. Surely, after eight travel books (as well as a goodly number number of novels), all, to varying degrees,
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've followed Theroux around the world and enjoyed with him his many trips. One of the best things about his writing is that it's highly emotional, meaning that his current emotions come through in his descriptions and writing. One I got from this travelogue is that he's tired. Which, jesus dog, he's 70 years old, of course he's tired. But he's also tired of seeing the same slums and the same poverty and the same corruption.

And I do want to address something that I found particularly
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I haven't read any Theroux for a long time, probably since his paddle around the Pacific. I hadn't missed his grumpy, misanthropic tone, but this book reminded me what a great writer and observer he is. It's hardly a bundle of laughs -- returning to his beloved Africa he finds that almost everything has got worse, and he gets increasingly weary and cynical during a very difficult journey. But each chapter is a beautifully constructed piece in its own right: the chapter about the Ju'/Hoansi ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This book is a travel book but it explores the problems of South Africa, Namibia and Angola in great depth. The writer sees south Africa as still a highly divided society with a wealthy white minority and a poor angry black population that lives in the townships that make up the majority of the population. The poor not seeing much benefit of the post apartheid system are starting to turn to demagogues who talk about killing the rich whites (shades of Zimbabwe).
Namibia is a poorer but somewhat
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Paul Theroux makes it through the west of South Africa, Namibia and Angola. Then he abandons ship, quite rightly. Theroux's experiences, especially in Angola with the squalor and hopelessness of its cities kills his desire to go any further. Shanty towns, squatter camps, predatory youth, filth, garbage, loud rap music and a constant din, Theroux had no desire to continue on to Brazzaville, Kinshasha etc.

For fans of Theroux's many travel books, each one is a must read. Yet one can see him just
Feb 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
An up-close, unvarnished look the effects of modernization on southwestern Africa, as the author travels overland from Capetown through Angola. This is not a cheery travelogue, but a somewhat jaundiced look at a part of the world where conditions are deteriorating under the pressure of greed, corruption, growing inequality and urbanization. That Theroux loves Africa makes him all the more critical and almost bitter. Near the end he reports, "Angola was doomed, [Kalunga Lima] said, because of the ...more
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will undoubtedly be the last of Theroux's travel books. I have read them all, some more than once, and I am close to his age, 70, so it's all a little sad. In this book, he is vulnerable as never before. You miss some of the barbed wit, but you get the wisdom of all he has experienced. Man en masse, Paul is not crazy about, but he can usually find something to appreciate in anyone who is genuine.
Angola seems like a terrible place to go on one's last journey; indeed he spends less time
Angus McKeogh
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first foray into Theroux's travel narratives. I had enjoyed some of his fiction (and have had a little trouble getting through some of his other fiction), but I found his travel writing great. Or perhaps it was his route and destination. Angola. A place I'll never go. A reputed hellhole. A war torn area run by bandits, dictators, and communists. A really fascinating read. Illuminates the problems with Africa and how America is connected to that very thing. Makes one extremely ...more
Theroux plans to travel from south to north up the west side of Africa starting in Capetown (the mirror image of a previous trip he made from the north to south down the eastern side). The early days of the trip in South Africa and Namibia see him visit shantytowns and game parks plus pull off a teaching gig but what looms for him is Angola which he knows is dangerous and chaotic-practically every African he meets suggests he rethink his plan to travel alone in this country. But he goes ahead ...more
Vicky Hunt
When The Blind Carry the Crippled

In a deep journey into his own heart, Paul Theroux, the 'train traveler,' seemingly jumps the track. Jumping the track in more ways than one, he beckons the reader to follow him once more through the continent that gave him 'everything.' Years before, he had traveled overland from Cairo to Cape Town. In this book, he reverses the trip on the opposite side of the continent. His goal was to travel from Cape Town up through Namibia and Angola, revisiting a few
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A solid book about some aspects of the present and future of southern Africa.

First, Theroux is a skeptic almost to the point of cynicism about First World charities' efforts in Africa. He says much of the money goes to lining the pockets of corrupt governments and cronies, which we all know. He goes on to note that some countries, like Angola (oil and heavy metals) and Congo (heavy metals, gems) have plenty of money from natural resources that less corrupt governments would be able to take care
Michael Andersen-Andrade
"What am I doing here?". That is the question that Paul Theroux asks himself during his overland journey up the western edge of Africa from Capetown to Luanda. Mr. Theroux is a lifelong world traveler with a special place in his heart for the African Continent. As he travels north through South Africa, Namibia and Angola he comes to the realization that he no longer has the interest, energy or hunger for the kind of travel that takes him to parts of the world that are scarred by crushing ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
When Paul Theroux says it’s his last train ride, I feel sad. I’ve traveled with Theroux across the east side of Africa, across Asia, and now down the west side of Africa. This was not a happy trip for him. He seemed to grow more and more morose as he stopped in various cities across Africa. The poverty, the filth, the despair of the people...all these worked together to bring Theroux’s mood down lower and lower with every stop. Finally, he cut the trip short and went home. It’s possible he may ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
According to Theroux, much of Africa is devolving into a series of wilderness theme parks set in countries festering with corruption, with cities surrounded by horrific slums. Africa's best hope lies in the "zona verde" (the green zone--the bush), where traditions and values central to African identity are still remembered. Fascinating but depressing.
Steve Groves
The proctologist’s guide to Africa…a toxic tour through the bowels of West Africa, along the Côte d’Ordure.

Half way through this book recounting Theroux’s journey as a world weary seventy year old, from the wealthy enclaves of Cape Town to the God - forsaken apocalyptic and nightmarish towns and cities of Angola; I was feeling as disgusted as Theroux probably felt gnawing on his pieces of flyblown chicken in Southern Angola. In short it’s a hard book to like. Travel books for me are usually
Anne Maesaka
The title of this book is a bit misleading. This is not a book about an african safari, so if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere. This is a book about Paul Theroux traveling from South Africa, through Namibia and to Angola. The majority of this book takes place in the country of Angola. He does present some fascinating history of the country and talks about the political situation there. Angola is one of the richest African countries but it's people are some of the poorest . ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa's Fighting Spirit
  • Africa: A Biography of the Continent
  • When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa
  • I Dreamed of Africa
  • Road Trip Rwanda: A Journey Into the New Heart of Africa
  • Love and Summer
  • Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place
  • Arabian Sands
  • The Zanzibar Chest
  • Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart
  • The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood
  • Lightfoot
  • Lotte in Weimar: The Beloved Returns
  • Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life & Cars
  • Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu
  • The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel
  • Close Calls & Narrow Escapes
  • Bruce
See similar books…
Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work is The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), a travelogue about a trip he made by train from Great Britain through Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, through South Asia, then South-East Asia, up through East Asia, as far east as Japan, and then back across Russia to his point of origin. Although perhaps best ...more
“There's always a way if you're not in a hurry.” 11 likes
“I have a hatred of the taming of animals, especially large ones that are so contented in the wild. I abominate circus acts that involve big befooled beasts--cowed tigers or helplessly roaring lions pawing the air and teetering on small stools. I deplore zoos and anything to do with animal confinement or restraint.” 7 likes
More quotes…