BURCHELL’S AFRICAN ODYSSEY

M.A

Revealing the return journey 1812–1815 by ROGER STEWART & MARION WHITEHEAD

The English naturalist William Burchell set off from Cape Town in June 1811 to explore the flora and fauna of the vast southern African interior. Over a four-year period, and travelling in a custom-built ox wagon, he amassed an astonishing 63000 specimens of plants, bulbs, insects, reptiles and mammals – many not previously documented for science – and produced more than 500 paintings and illustrations.

While the outbound trek is well described in Burchell’s famous Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa, the challenges and discoveries made on his return journey to Cape Town, from 1812–1815 have not been described. In Burchell’s African Odyssey, authors Roger Stewart and Marion Whitehead embark on a similarly daunting task – to reveal the homeward leg of Burchell’s epic trek from the southern Kalahari via the Karoo and southern coastal belt…

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