PICS: Your best books for planning a trip, and what to read when you get there

2018-08-19 00:00 - Kate Turkington
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girl reading book with coffee

Check out these books to fuel your wanderlust. (Photo: iStock)

Plan your trip first with these great travel books.

Then take something good along to read when you reach your destination.

Oh, and don't forgot the kids:

Hit The Road – Explore South Africa’s Best Routes by Sean Fraser

Publisher: Map Studio

Length: 208 pages

If you’ve got wheels then arm yourself with this comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide to South Africa’s 17 main travel routes; jam-packed with information on attractions en route from national parks and wildlife reserves to museums, picnic spots and heritage sites.

Veteran traveller Sean Fraser even suggests time frames for your proposed trip; from spending a couple of hours at Johannesburg Zoo; to three or more at Gauteng’s Cango Caves; or Mpumalanga’s God’s Window; to a couple of days at DumaZulu Traditional Village in KwaZulu-Natal.

There’s a Quickfinder at the front of the book that allows you to make your first choices, then page through and get more detailed information on your final destination.

hit the road book

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More Things to do in Moer & Gone Places by Jacques Marais

Publisher: Map Studio

Length: 306 pages

If you want to get away from the madding crowds and discover offbeat, less-visited places; not only in South Africa but also in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique; then bury your head in this attractive, reader-friendly book.

Choose from over 120 destinations with more than a 1 000 things to do. Conservation minded? Then try some eco-experiences such as a camping spot in a game reserve or a wooden shack on a sandy beach, or taste some of South Africa’s best cheese at Langbaken farm near Williston in the Northern Cape.

Looking to stretch your legs? Then hike one of the nine trails in Swaziland’s Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary or hire a steed in Greyton and go horse riding in the Riviersonderend mountains.

Go birding in the Pilanesberg National Park or perfect your swing at Legend Golf and Safari Resort in Limpopo.

Have a sundowner of local malala wine at “The Longest Bar in the World” at the confluence of the Shashi and Limpopo rivers at Sandstone Camp in Zimbabwe.

The book tells you in detail how to find your way with GPS coordinates and handy locator maps; and gives you all the necessary contact details plus the full-colour photographs will get your travel taste buds tickling.

moer & gone book

The Ultimate Guide to Food, Wine & Adventure in Cape Town and the Western Cape by Jennifer Stern

Publisher: Map Studio

Length: 192 pages

If you’ve set your heart on this part of South Africa then this is your ultimate guide. Stern, who really knows her Cape stuff, covers the Cape Karoo, Cape Overberg, Cape Town, the West Coast, the Winelands, the Garden Route and the Klein Karoo.

Each section is broken down into an events calendar; a food and drink overview; evocative pithy descriptions of places to visit; suggested itineraries and useful links.

My only grouse is that because so much information is packed into the pages; the print is very small. You’ll need your reading glasses to take it all in. But it’s well worth the effort.

cape town and the western cape book

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If you like flowers ...

Field Guide to Fynbos by John Manning

Publisher: Struik Nature

Length: 508 pages

You probably know that our Cape floristic region is one of the most diverse in the world, but did you know that it averages an astonishing 94 unique species per 1 000-square-kilometre?

Perhaps the best known of these species is fynbos, almost 9 000 species of flowering plants, most of which are found nowhere else on earth. If you are a plant lover, flower-spotter, keen gardener, botanist or student, or are just interested in our amazing plant life, then John Manning, an internationally respected botanist, will steer you through this natural wonderland in his indispensable guide.

Clear, full-colour ID photographs, distribution maps, scientific and common names are all here, plus a fascinating section on the traditional uses of certain plants.

fynbos guide book

To entertain the kids...

The Amazing Coelacanth by Mike Bruton

Publisher: Penguin/Random House

Length: 64 pages

This fascinating colourful book tells the story of the discovery of the first coelacanth in modern times and will intrigue and delight kids from 9-14 years.

“Old Fourlegs”, a major step on the ladder of human evolution, was thought to be extinct for millions for years until one was caught in a fishing net near East London in 1939 and instantly made world headlines.

Ichthyologist Mike Bruton explains the whys and wherefores of this mysterious creature, the story of its discovery and what makes it so special, and gives us insight into its way of life and its marine companions. My 11-year-old grandson loved this book.

coelacanth book

IS IT Time to take that road trip? These guides will help

For when you get there:

If you like crime fiction…

A Different Kind of Evil by Andrew Wilson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Length: 416 pages

Many first time readers of English fiction cut their teeth on Agatha Christie’s detective stories, and you may not be surprised to hear that she is still the biggest selling author of all time.

You’ll find her titles on shelves in village bookshops in Ethiopia, markets in Nigeria and supermarkets in East Africa. Highly acclaimed author Andrew Wilson has now turned the story around and made Christie herself the detective.

He carefully uses the kind of language and style that made Death on the Nile – Christie’s other bestselling mystery novel and Belgian detective Hercule Poirot world famous – to create a superb whodunit of his own.

A Different Kind of Evil is his third novel featuring Christie as a sleuth. On this occasion she is on board a liner to Tenerife in the Canary Islands to investigate the death of a British agent.

Expect murder, mystery, mayhem and a great read.

different kind of evil book

Incorruptible, An Inspector Ikmen Mystery by Barbara Nadel

Publisher: Headline UK

Length: 416 pages

This is the latest crime novel about Turkish police inspector Ikmen who lives and works in the tumultuous city of Istanbul.

The stabbed and slashed body of a young woman is found in a backstreet of Istanbul, but this is no ordinary woman; she has claimed to see visions of the Virgin Mary and is both adored by this seething city’s Christians and at the same time feared and hated by the predominantly Muslim community.

Popular feeling is running high as Ikmen and his sidekick – the handsome Suleiman – navigate the treacherous currents of religion, politics and dark family secrets.

incorruptible book

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Eighteen Below by Stefan Ahnhem

Publisher: Head Zeus

Length: 519 pages

If you’re into Nordic noir – think Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbø, Camilla Läckberg – then you’ll lap up all 519 pages of this Scandinavian thriller; set in the coastal town of Helsingborg in southern Sweden.

A body is recovered from a crashed car in the freezing waters of the quay, but when examined, Fabian Risk and his team of detectives discover the victim was brutally assaulted and already dead when the body went over the edge.

Ahnhem, hailed as the “new Scandinavian sensation”, will keep you on the edge of your seat – lights turned up –with this thriller.

eighteen below book

If you like reading about animals…Cat Among the Pigeons by David Muirhead

Publisher: Struik Nature

Length: 152 pages

Muirhead subtitles his quirky amusing book Animal myths, musings and matters of fact; so expect to read about everything from cockroaches and caraculs, to pangolins and pythons.

Muirhead writes in his preface that although this is not a murder mystery by Agatha Christie, you will find between its pages creatures skilled in killing, deception and detection. However, the stories will bring a smile to your face as will the satirical pen-and-ink drawings by Patricia de Villiers.

This is a book for all the family, from tots and teens to greybeards.

cat among the pigeons book

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Cuddle Me, Kill Me by Richard Pierce

Publisher: Penguin

Length: 200 pages

You will not want to take your kids to a lion park or captive-breeding facility ever again after reading this book.

Veteran wildlife campaigner Pierce takes the lid off the canned lion hunting industry and reveals horrifying facts: such as how young cubs are removed from their mothers hours after birth, are then petted and adored by paying visitors, their subsequent part in the lucrative “walking with lions” tourism, and finally how they are “served up” in fenced enclosures to be “executed” by well-paying hunters.

The photographs reinforce the misery and exploitation of these wretched creatures.

cuddle me kill me book

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