These three new books will please nature lovers both at home and away: a stargazing handbook, guide to hiking trails and a collection of arcane knowledge. By Magriet Kruger

Sky Guide Africa South 2018

Whether you’re a keen amateur astronomer or simply someone who wants to enjoy the night sky when visiting reserves, you’ll find this handbook an invaluable resource. It explains what you can expect in the heavens at various times during the year. For each month there’s a celestial almanac with sky events such as meteor showers to look out for. Drawings indicate the position of the moon and specific planets as well as the best time for viewing. I personally value the monthly timetable for sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset, which helps to plan stargazing activities and knowing when to rise for golden hour photography. This slim book is absolutely jam-packed with useful facts plus insightful information about the heavenly bodies that captivate us.

Competition: Buy Sky Guide Africa South 2018 and stand a chance to win a hamper of books plus planetarium tickets. Competition closes 20 March 2018.

Sky Guide Africa South 2018 by Auke Slotegraaf and Ian Glass. Struik Nature. 2017. R140.

Hiking Trails of South Africa

Just reading the list of trails covered in this comprehensive guide is enough to make your heart beat faster. They’re all here: flagship multiday trails like the Otter and Hoerikwaggo; popular day hikes like Elephant’s Eye Cave; and lesser known gems like the Rooikat Trail in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. All in all, more than 500 trails to give you itchy feet. The fourth edition of this essential guide has been brought completely up to date, with new trails and the latest booking information. In addition to the trail descriptions, you’ll find plenty of pointers to help you plan your outing, from a kit list and sample menu to first aid and trail etiquette. Happy hiking!

Hiking Trails of South Africa by Willie Olivier. Struik Travel & Heritage. 2017. R270.

Rapid Fire: Remarkable Miscellany

Are hyenas more closely related to dogs or cats? Why doesn’t a woodpecker get brain damage from all that pecking? What was the first conservation law in South Africa and when was it issued? These are just some of the questions put to John Maytham, a presenter on 567 Cape Talk. In this little book he shares the most puzzling questions along with their surprising answers. It covers several categories, from animals and body parts to sport and word origins, all guaranteed to have you scratching your head. This book is just the ticket for whiling away a long wait at a waterhole or testing your general knowledge around the campfire.

Rapid Fire: Remarkable Miscellany by John Maytham. Tafelberg. 2017. R250.