Show me a picture of an old windmill at sunset, the scrubby vegetation of the Karoo dusty in the foreground, and I’m anyone’s.

I’m pretty sure every South African worth his or her baboetie loves the Karoo as much as we love rugby and soccer: like them, it goes to the very heart of what we are. But like them, too, it looks simple (wide flat horizons, silence, heat) at first glance – but it hides a depth that’s breathtaking.

Jonathan Deal’s book (published in hardcover by Struik Nature) provides as comprehensive an overview of the Karoo as you can fit into 208 pages; It wanders through the Central Karoo, the Northern and Upper Karoo, the Great Karoo, the Hantam and Tankwa Karoo, and the Klein Karoo – and that’s a huge area to cover.

Of course the nice thing about a book like this is that you don’t have to read it in a straight line: you can amble this way and that, pick up on a favourite destination, let your mind linger over an evocative image – and this is where I have a gripe. So many of the entries for the towns and villages along the way begin with the tired old “Situated 60 km from X-ville and 40 km from Y.”

You’d think there’d be more interesting reasons to visit…

Still, this seems to be a general problem with tourism marketing: so many people think that location means everything, when it’s the stories, or the fantastic natural phenomena, or the culture that usually motivate us to visit.

But don’t let this put you off: for the rest, the stories, the phenomena, and the culture are here – in abundance. And that’s why you need this book in your guest library. It’s so well put together, so interesting, so visually appealing, that it makes you just long to explore every rock and bush and coffee shop and museum and gallery and church and windpomp that’s out there. And it’ll make your guess want to, too.

Buy it at here