What We Have Been Reading for Struik Nature Lately…

I mentioned that we were back in school and this year for school we are going to be making full use of the books in this post. Firstly, we are going to be taking a Virtual Tour of our National Parks, keeping a nature journal as we go. And I can see Star Gazing nights popping onto our calendar… it is definitely time for us to start learning all about the night sky.


Stuart’s Field Guide to National Parks and Nature Reserves of South Africa

Stuart’s Field Guide to National Parks and Nature Reserves of South Africa: This is the perfect guide book for folk looking to see what they can see, in 43 of South Africa’s National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. More than that, it is packed with detailed information about the natural history that you can find throughout the region. And if you are just out and about in the wild… there is also a really quick and easy identification photographic guide of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, flowers and trees.


The book is divided into provincial regions and for each province there is a map indicating where you can find the different parks that you will find described in the following pages. From the Pilansberg in the North to the Agulhas National Park in the South, For each park there is:

  1. A location map,
  2. Highlights,
  3. Climate,
  4. A brief history,
  5. A map of the park, showing all the main features: hides, view points, accommodation, and such like,
  6. Facilities and activities,
  7. The geology and landscape in brief,
  8. Vegetation, and a Vegetation map,
  9. Wildlife, and Wildlife Facts.


And of course the book is very picture rich, packed with beautiful photographs making sure that if you haven’t already been to a park that you will be inspired to visit it soon. We love that it includes quite a few of the parks that we know really well, like the Table Mountain National Park as well as areas that we have holidayed in like the West Coast National Park and camped at, like Cape Agulhas; and our favourite, the Cederberg Wilderness Area. This book is really easy reading, in fact I tried to review it a number of times and each time got completely lost in the book. This book is a fabulous resource for those folk who like to collect national parks (!), as well as for armchair travellers who are looking to reflect back on visits they have taken or to be inspired to just get up and go themselves.

We will be virtually visiting a reserve each week for school and creating a notebook page for each reserve. It is a great way to cover a flavour of national heritage into our school week: a little bit of history and geography, as well as nature study, all the while inspiring our adventurous spirits. This book is a great addition to our pile of family reads. You can meet the authors on their website: Stuart on Nature.

Star Maps for Southern Africa by Albert Jansen

Star Maps of Southern Africa by Jansen Albert: After a visit to the Planetarium over the summer holidays we have become a lot more interested in what is in the sky above us. This book is perfect for a study of the stars above. It is a a guidebook to what you can find when and where in the night sky, throughout the year. It took us a little while to figure out how the maps work, but now that we understand that we are constantly discovering new things.


The stars above us are changing all the time and this book provides a framework, almost a diary of the stars in the sky… so that if you go to the correct date and time and look at the map, then you will be able to see the names of figure out the constellations in the sky, buy comparing them with the maps in your hands. This is a practical handbook style of book… not a lot of words, but for the star enthusiast it is a dream.


There is a reader friendly introduction, with guidelines and helpful information to help you navigate the night sky. Their are plenty of tips on how to select which map to look at and how to orientate the map, not to mention how to select a moonless night so that you can have the best star viewing. From which time of day is the best time of day, to which binoculars would be useful. At the back of the book there is a useful index of stars and constellations, so that if you are looking for a particular star, for instance… you can refer back to the correct map and hence find where it is in the night sky on a particular night of the year.


There are 12 sets of maps, one for each month of the year, and then eight star maps for each of those, one for each of the principal views according to the compass… there are a lot of stars to look at, and these maps, that have the constellations outlined will thin out all the stars into plenty of something recognisable. For beginner stargazers, like us, these maps are the perfect introduction and guide to what to look out for in the night sky. With each month comes a guided tour of what to expect in the night sky and pointer tips to help you learn more and understand what you are looking at so much better. Just by spending a couple of nights each month you can learn so much about the night sky… looking forward to spending a year in the stars and I have a feeling that more than a couple of our kids are going to become eager stargazers because of this.

I received these books from Struik Nature for review purposes. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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