The Timbuktu School for Nomads: Across the Sahara in the Shadow of Jihad, by Nicholas Jubber
‘Timbuktu’ is used in the English language to describe an inaccessible, distant land — so much so that it is often deemed a myth. Yet this mysterious land is very much real, with a fraught history to prove it. Once the heart of African civilisation, this North African city is now a remote land haunted by terrorist occupation. It is said that its inhabitants hail visitors with the greeting, ‘Welcome to the middle of nowhere.’
Writer and traveller Nicholas Jubber set out on an adventure through the Atlas Mountains, the “teeth-janglingly dangerous” Sahara and up the Niger River. He aimed to follow in the footsteps of 16th-century explorer Leo Africanus but found himself following in the trail of the nomadic people.
The book is written with energy and humour, while presenting the strong resilience that the nomads have maintained despite being under constant threat. From goat-milking to saddling a camel, Jubber’s close engagement with the Tuaregs, Fulanis, Berbers and other communities is phenomenal, providing readers with a fascinating insight into the history of nomadic culture and the way these stoic people overcome the challenges of the modern day.
Reviewed by Anna Vujicic
Reader review: South Africa’s Wildest Places, by Scott Ramsay
Ramsay takes you on an unforgettable journey through 30 of South Africa’s protected areas and their astonishing scenery and wildlife. With his stunning photography, he reveals the country’s majesty. Exploring Kruger, Addo and Table Mountain national parks, the book also features lesser-known reserves such as Marakele, Kogelberg and Augrabies Falls. This is a must-have for anyone who is curious about South Africa and in love with its
Erik van de Ven, The Netherlands
6 of the best books about Ethiopia
Trevor Jenner shares his favourite reads about this diverse country in the Horn of Africa
1 The Various Flavours of Coffee
This novel tells the story of Robert Wallis, a man whose job it is to describe the various flavours of coffee. He is sent to Ethiopia, where he battles with tribes and their inexplicable cultures, and eventually falls for a local girl.
2 Amedeo: The True Story of an Italian’s War in Abyssinia
An account of the true life experiences of Amedeo Guillet, who joined the army to be part of Mussolini’s dream to create ‘Italian East Africa’. As a cavalry officer, his escapades brought him to Khadija, who fell in love with him. An outstanding book about an extraordinary man.
3 The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant
An absorbing account of a hunt for the vanished Ark of the Covenant. Hancock consulted experts and detected hidden clues to attempt to uncover the true story that grapples with the myth of Solomon and Sheba.
4 The Chains of Heaven: An Ethiopian Romance
The author visited Ethiopia at a time when Emperor Haile Selassie had been deposed and the Communist government was being established. He later undertook an epic walk from Lalibela to Axum, and in this book, shares the stories told by rebels of life under Communist rule.
5 The Blue Nile Revealed: The Story of the Great Abbai Expedition, 1968
The Blue Nile was eventually conquered in 1968, following an expedition that resulted in great loss of life. Snailham provides a history of the Blue Nile as a backdrop to Colonel John Blashford-Snell’s exploration that spawned whitewater rafting.
6 The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope
Dr Catherine Hamlin
A moving account of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Catherine Hamlin’s dedication to restoring hope to women who have sustained serious injuries during childbirth. Memories of life in Ethiopia during Emperor Haile Selassie’s lifetime, the Communist takeover and its downfall are all covered.
Four new guides
1 South Africa pocket guide
This fully revised and concise guide, out in March, provides all the information a traveller needs to make the most of South Africa, without the extra weight. Providing the top 10 attractions and A-Z travel tips for your stay, it combines lively text with vivid photography in
a pocket-sized format.
2 Bradt guide to Uganda
This comprehensive tome provides interesting anecdotes about the etiquette, language and geographical climate of modern Uganda, along with tales from its rich history. Travellers will gain a good insight into what this nation offers beyond the wildlife and fauna.
3 Culture smart! The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture: Kenya
This new book, out in February, goes beyond the tourist attractions, delving deep into the cultural customs and beliefs within Kenya’s diverse communities. With tips on making friends, business briefing and tribal identity, this is a guide for travellers wishing to fully immerse themselves in everyday life.
4 Secret Cape Town
Justin Fox and Alison Westwood
Written by insiders, this book covers all the corners of Cape Town that would be overlooked in a conventional guide. From hidden hiking trails to dining in a maximum-security prison, this is one for the savvy traveller keen to discover the city’s best-kept secrets.