Top-notch travel reads

1) Road journeys

The Sunbird Illustrated Touring Atlas of Southern Africa is a big-scale touring book that has heaps of fantastic information. The highlight is, of course, the stress on “illustrated” as the guide has detailed area maps, just right for the rigting-bedondered (directionally challenged).

2) Going rough

The Rough Guide to South Africa Lesotho and Swaziland (Rough Guides). Although it has all the obvious travel information for explorers, this punchy guide has selected highlights and great anecdotal information about places (even stuff that well-heeled local travellers won’t know about).

3) Lonely in the South

Lonely Planet Southern Africa (Lonely Planet Guides) covers Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Swaziland. Standard Lonely Planet, it is solid on practical information, but takes the trouble to focus on people and culture. More than 144 maps and great visuals make this an essential guide.

4) City slickers

The Timeout Guide to Cape Town (distributed by Random House) is the definitive city guide. It has the restaurants, clubs, fashion haunts and galleries … don’t we need a Timeout to every city in South Africa? Hopefully the publishers are listening.

5) Coffee Table

Not traditionally a travel book, but in Karoo Moons: A Photographic Journey (Struik) Richard Dobson and author Ruben Mowszowski take one on a night journey through the Great Karoo. To be savoured slowly.

6) Craft and Culture

The Travel Guide to South African Craft Sites looks awfully PC, but it’s a hugely informative guide. As part of Eskom’s Due South Craft Route it not only exposes the reader to some of the best crafters and cultural workshops in the country — you are also given a route map, which includes craft sites and places to see and stay. For more information visit

7) Adrenalin junkies

Map Studios Activity Atlas Southern Africa covers adventures and activities from Cape Town to Kilimanjaro. It gives adventure options in each country under the headings: “On Land”; “In the Air”; “On Wheels” and “On or In, Water”. There are also options for those in search of a “soft adventure”.

8) More to the Point

While there are a good few general travel guides to South Africa, there is a definite need for more in-depth information on what this country has to offer. Philip Harrison (a professor of urban and regional planning at Wits University) has put together five guides, called South Africa’s Top Sites. These cover eco-travel, science, struggle, arts and culture and gay and lesbian travel. The guides include reference material, great information, maps and telephone numbers. All done simply in black and white, these books are published and distributed by Spearhead and retail at less than R100.

9) Do-it-yourself

For any free-spirited traveller, The AA Guide to Self-Catering Getaways is a definite. From one-horse-town B&Bs to accommodation in national parks, this fantastic reference even includes caravan parks. This handy guide gives establishment gradings, at-a-glance facilities guide and the necessary contact information and a handy map section. Published by AA Travel Guides Visit:

10) On the light side

Mixed Case: A unique guide to the Cape Winelands (Struik). Author Jean-Pierre Rossouw presents great itineraries, tongue-in-cheek advice, winespeak and handy information for tipplers on the hop.

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