In Wild Karoo former ranger Mitch Reardon takes an epic journey through the country’s heartland. Get the book and plan your own journey of plenty through 12 Wild Card parks and nature reserves. You’ll discover the Karoo like never before. By Romi Boom

This very fine book makes me want to start packing right now for my next road trip. At the best of times, I have wanderlust, and having devoured Wild Karoo, the itch is just about unbearable. This rendition of a 4,000km journey through the Karoo is so entertaining and informative that I yearn to revisit all those familiar locations with new-found insight. The Wild Card gives free access to 12 of the nature reserves and parks on Mitch Reardon’s itinerary.

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Following a career as a ranger, Mitch, a long-time contributor to Wild magazine, has written six books, including a riveting account of our most famous national park, Shaping Kruger. Now he takes us to the heartland and reveals the myriad facets of nature conservation to everyone who views the Karoo as simply a bleak landscape, consisting of nothing but brown frontier plains.

You’ll discover that the flora is astonishingly biodiverse with 6,000-odd plant species. Exquisite photos showcase the Karoo ecosystem, the large and small game, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, adding to the visual attraction of this book. Background information provides engrossing reading about the beasts that call it home – first-hand accounts that will make you absolutely green with envy.

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The growing popuarity of this parched landscape is not surprising when you learn more about its legendary history. But while the book gives glimpes of the past, it also looks to the future. The region’s remarkable revival is due in large part to conservation efforts; visionary plans are being implemented for wildlife corridors to re-establish the migration routes of the past.

“In its own contrary way,” he writes, “the Karoo embodies both the early failures and more recent triumphs of conservation in South Africa. […] There are those who would return the Karoo to its primordial condition, to see it become, in effect, a massive ecological reserve. Is that feasible? Probably not, but it’s an idea that’s headed in the right direction.”

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Do lay your hands on a copy. The soft-cover format is handy to pack and makes this an invaluable companion on your trips, especially since accommodation options for each destination are given.

Wild Karoo: A journey through history, change and revival in an ancient landMitch Reardon. Struik Nature. 2018. R270.

All pictures courtesy of Mitch Reardon and Struik Nature