During the busy season… it only takes a moment to get lost in a book. These are books that have been on my gift pile and ready to wrap up… only, I found myself dipping into and then reading from cover to cover.

se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 5

This collection of books are all really extremely giftable… all of them. You will find the pocket books in my backpack as I head out on adventures with the kids, while the others will be safely on the coffee table.

se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 24

Hidden Karoo

by Patricia Kramer and Alain Proust

This is a coffee table book that will bring the heart of South Africa to life… this is a book that has taken a dive into the Karoo to bring the land and its people to life. The Karoo has been divided into several regions, each of them only a road trip away. The Karoo is in essence a desert, an unforgiving and vast landscape, the kind of place that you take a journey through and after this book, you may just want to stop and linger a little longer. Most people are driving through from Johannesburg to Cape Town and back again… what they don’t know is that is an incredible region of diversity and beauty… the Karoo has its own culture entirely, and it’s own cuisine, it’s own wildlife and as this book has brought to life, its own architecture.
se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 27

When a book is designed for arm chair travel, and yet you feel a need to pack some pad-kos and head out on a road trip, then you know the authors have succeeded. Beautiful photographs spread over every page, throughout the book, which demonstrate a clear passion for the region. Quiet and dusty towns that you might have driven through without noticing you now find yourself wanting to stop by and explore a bit more.
se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 25

The mix of cultural heritage, with modern design, the mix of those dwellings abandoned as folk were forced to the city for survival, and then as fashion dictates, newer adaptions for those city dwellers, who need to escape to wide open spaces. One thing that the Karoo has is corners of incredible interest. The architecture alone, brings you any number of features, the how and the why of them, for instance: the different gables in different areas, the different corrugated-iron stoep roofs and the historically unique corbelled buildings. Corbelle buildings that were built by the first settlers, entirely out of stone… even the roofs were created by carefully balancing stone upon stone. It is fascinating reading…
se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 29

From merino sheep to ostrich farming, and tours of Ostrich palaces built during the boom, to the Owl House of Nieu Bethesda, there is something for every curious traveller who finds themselves in the Karoo. In fact next time you are passing through, you may want to linger a little longer, it truly is a beautiful space packed with hidden secrets.
tempImageForSave (9)

Previous Blog Posts About the Karoo.

  • Se7en’s Guide to Visiting the Karoo National Park.
  • A Photo Guide of the Karoo National Park.
  • The Wild Karoo… A Nature Guide.
  • Justin Bonello’s Cooked in the Karoo.
  • se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 15

    Walking Safaris of South Africa

    by Hlemgiwe Magagula and Denis Costello

    This book is packed with guided walks and trails in national parks and game reserves. We might have done a lot of hiking and we may have hiked a couple of trails in the Western Cape, this book opens up a whole new world of hiking and getting close to nature all over our beautiful country, that I had never imagined were available to us. This is not about our countries most popular trails, like the Otter Trail for instance… it is about visiting our National Reserves and discovering that within them there are several overnight guided hikes and multi-day guided hikes, available to the public at a price.

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 17

    The first section of the book, about quarter of the book in fact, is devoted to information about hiking these kinds of trails… what to wear, what to take… what to expect from your guide, which forms to fill in, how to book and so on. I am going to say that the difference between a self-guided hike and a guided hike is never just an extra companion on the route, the rangers that act as your tour guides are incredibly well trained and know their route and the surrounding countryside so well that they can only give you an incredible experience. Their local knowledge and their ability to find hidden secrets that a non-local would walk on by, without noticing, is unprecedented.

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 16

    After the introduction, you dive into twenty chapters, each located in a different park, across the country. From the Kruger National Park to the Pilansberg, from the Sanbona to Shamwari. For each park there is a block of important information: website link to book on, contact telephone numbers and emails, rough cost of the hike, the best months for the trail, ages allowed on the trail (quite important, almost all our trails expect kids to only start hiking at age twelve, and from age 12 they are expected to pay adult accommodation rates as well… so really no kids allowed… that’s SANParks for you. The book does provide a double page spread on how to book your trail on the SANParks website. It is a bit of a mission, these hikes are extremely popular and are open for booking a year in advance… just this double page spread, puts this book into the diamond league of information!

    Each chapter, along with the useful information regarding the particular trails available in the park, also describes that particular park’s trails in detail. After reading this book, I realise that I would never book a visit to a park like the Kruger National Park, without booking a 3-night wilderness trail at the same time… this is a fully catered walking experience of note. I love that the book is written in readable chunks… anecdotes from the authors experiences on the trails make for interesting reading amidst the informational pages and blocks of facts. I love that they have photographs of the plants and animals you will find on your trails… this is one of those small books that is packed with power… and if you have never been on a guided hiking trail, then this book is the guide book you need to equip you to head out on an adventure.

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 18

    SASOL Birds of Southern Africa

    by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Niall Perrins, Dominic Rollinson, Peter Ryan

    illustrated by Norman Arlott, Peter Hayman, Alan Harris and Faansie Peacock

    This is an iconic South African Bird Book and a go to reference work for bird loving families all over Southern Africa. Honestly, it is a must have book for all nature lovers and one that needs to be readily handy, wherever you are, because let’s face it… birds are everywhere and how often do you hear, “What’s that bird?” This book is incredibly useful for identifying birds and really easy to use, even for a non-birding, but interested person.
    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 22

    The front inside cover pages have thumbnail illustrations for all the bird groups, which is such a handy tool for easy identification. From the inside cover you can immediately jump to the relevant page number and look for the exact bird you are looking at. Each bird is beautifully illustrated. On each page there is a paragraph about the family of birds you are looking at… and then a more detailed description about each of the birds within the family. Otherwise, they are beautifully and clearly illustrated… all the illustrations are on the right hand side pages and the text on the left, which makes it very quick to flip through to the bird you are after and find out all sorts of details… about the biology and habits of the bird, the habitat of the bird, there is also a distribution map for each bird, seasonal charts, as well as details about their status and any other important features as well.

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 21

    This book comes with a handy little checklist booklet, so that you can collect a list of birds you have spotted… And possibly the BEST feature of this book is that it comes with a QR Code for a nature call app, once you have downloaded the app, there is a barcode under the pictures of the bird, if you scan the barcode your phone will play the bird call… MAGIC!!!

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 23

    We love this book, it has never ever made it onto the book shelf, because someone always has it out and is exploring in it… it is great for drives in the country, it is great for an afternoon in the garden and if you live with a nature loving fact collector, as we do, then it is invaluable!!!

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 10

    Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa

    by John Manning

    We have reviewed the Fynbos Version of this book before, and so many of John Manning’s excellent Nature Guide books, but never a Wild Flower Guide before. This book is lovely throughout. It is a very easy guide to use… stunning photographs of every flower on the right hand side pages and all the facts on the left hand side… perfect for flipping through and quick identification.
    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 12

    There is a guide to how the book works and plants are in colour coded into special groups. Each plant comes with its own distribution map, seasonal bar, several names: English, Afrikaans, Latin and the common name.
    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 13

    There are well over a thousand plants in this book… from water lilies to aloes, orchids to stone plants… the plant world is a thoroughly engaging one and this one will introduce you to something new and fascinating on every page.

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 6

    Pocket Guides

    from Struik Nature

    I absolutely love this series of pocket guides form Struik Nature, they are perfect for travelling, on big adventures where you need to pack light and little adventures where you only have pockets!!!

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 9


    by John Manning

    We live within the Fynbos Plant Kingdom of the world… so this little pocket book is perferct for us. Facts about the flowers that we pass on our walks up and down the mountain… are exactly what we need in our pocket. It is one of those little gems of a guide book, condensed into a pocket book. Distrubution maps, full colour photographs, all the names and the habitat and also a little bit extra: what sort of plant is it confused with, wild life interactions to look out for and so on. This is an actual gem.

    se7en-21-Dec-21-Whitagram-Image 8


    by Marieka Gryzenhout

    There is everything to love about mushrooms… We did a great study on mushrooms earlier this year, and one of my kids is truly fascinated by them. This is the perfect gift… it is perfect to toss into a backpack, while heading out with a flask of hot chocolate, for a mushroom scavenge. Each mushroom gets its own page, with full colour and clear photographs from every angle. There is an easy guide to how the book works, there are well over a hundred mushrooms to investigate. Also quite clearly at the top of each page is the edibility of the mushroom: is it edible, inedible, poisonous… which is the first question anyone ever wants to be asked.

    Amazon Affiliate Links for Books Mentioned in This Post.

    This book was given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

    One Reply to “A Pile of Extremely Giftable Books from Struik Publishers…”

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *