Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $27.00
  • Save: $6.66 (25%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
Cathedral of the Wild: An... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Sold by CDC Books
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Great reading copy, may show some signs of wear. Ships Fast! Satisfaction Guaranteed!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home Hardcover – March 11, 2014

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$13.07 $4.03

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Check out The Amazon Book Review, our editors' fresh new blog featuring interviews with authors, book reviews, quirky essays on book trends, and regular columns by our editors. Explore now
$20.34 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home + All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
Price for both: $36.54

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa has been the Varty family home for four generations. Located just west of Kruger National Park, it is a world-famous private wildlife preserve that attracts international visitors and broadcast-media attention. Varty recounts how his family restored dry, overgrazed land abandoned by ranchers, establishing a healthy habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, impalas, baboons, and crocodiles. This entertaining family saga is filled with distinctive characters, especially the author’s uncle John Varty, an irrepressible filmmaker who has survived numerous life-threatening accidents and clashes with business partners and government officials. Like his uncle, the author has cheated death, having been cornered by a poisonous cobra, held by gun-bearing robbers, and attacked by a crocodile. Written by a relatively young man, this quick-reading memoir may be just the first of many lively African tales. --Rick Roche


“Extremely touching . . . a book about growth and hope.”The New York Times
“It made me cry with its hard-won truths about human and animal nature. . . . Both funny and deeply moving, this book belongs on the shelf of everyone who seeks healing in wilderness.”BookPage

“This is a gorgeous, lyrical, hilarious, important book. Boyd Varty is as brilliant a storyteller and as kind a companion as you’ll ever meet. He describes a life that has been spent forging a new way of thinking and being, in harmony with both Nature writ large and the human nature that is you. Read this and you may find yourself instinctively beginning to heal old wounds: in yourself, in others, and just maybe in the cathedral of the wild that is our true home.”—Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star
“Cathedral of the Wild is the captivating story of the joyful, occasionally terrifying, but always interesting life of Boyd Varty. It is also a tale of healing, and of one family’s passion to restore our broken connection to nature. Be prepared to fall in love with Varty, his sister, his parents, his uncle, the ideals they fiercely hold to protect the African bush, and the wild animals and people that surround them. With his campfire wit and poet’s ear, Varty is a wonderful new voice in adventure writing.”—Susan Casey, author of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

“From the first chapter of Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty’s South Africa grabs your heart, rather like the giant mamba he encountered as a boy. The deadly snake moved on, but Varty’s stories stick. Here is a rare and moving tale of a young man who learns that the greatest dangers, at least to the human soul, are not to be found in the natural world, but in the emptiness beyond it—and that even mambas carry the power to heal.”—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle

“[An] intense, insightful memoir that brings together several wise observations about the relationship between nature and humanity . . . Varty faces his own trials . . . leading to a spiritual renewal that elevates this memoir above the usual wilderness narrative.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069858
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069859
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

It is well written and tells and interesting and adventurous story.
Sherri Adams
Boyd Varty tells the story of growing up in the Eden of South Africa on his family's wildlife preserve/guest lodge.
Helen Lawce
More than that, he shows us how nature can bring us back to ourselves.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By SCP on March 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I guess I'm an ageist. As my age advances, my interest in young writers declines. They may have dazzling pyrotechnic writing styles - but I don't care about style, I care about content, and I want to spend my time with writers who understand things that I don't. Generally, that means writers with a range of experiences and insights that can only come from living. Believe me, I'm not saying I know it all. Most of the time I can't even say what it is. But there is something about a young person's writing that usually feels thin and unseasoned to me.

Given my prejudice against tyro writers like Boyd Varty, I opened "Cathedral of the Wild" with skepticism that lasted about a page and a half. I love this book and found Varty's writing to be funny, profound, moving, witty, informative, fascinating, and inspiring, often all at once.

This is a memoir of a remarkable childhood in a singular family. Varty comes of age on a game preserve in South Africa's wildlands, the bushveld. The family land was purchased by ancestors who liked to hunt big game, but over time the family's love of nature evolves and they become staunch, influential conservationists whose business is to bring tourists on photographic safaris and to make death-defying wildlife videos. The family is ambitious, passionate, risk-loving; heavy on vision and low on conformity. Varty's early years are punctuated by brushes with death and exposure to the wonder of encounters with wild animals on their home turf.

For those who feel connection to nature, this book will resonate in every chapter. Throughout, Varty provides wonderful anecdotes about the animals he encounters, and he also powerfully conveys the spirituality he experiences in the natural world.
Read more ›
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By jd103 on February 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Unfortunately this book didn't turn out to be anything like what I expected. It was the aspect of a connection with nature which most interested me in the description -- intense spiritual quest, across the globe and back, power of the wild are phrases used.

Actually, 2/3 of the book consists of childhood anecdotes. If that had been clear to me, I wouldn't have read it. If you're interested in that, it's a fine book--I laughed out loud a couple times which rarely happens when I'm reading. But as for the rest of the book, I'm a strong believer in the human need for a connection with the natural world but what's offered here is just a general mysticism.

I don't think the book provides a very complete picture. Members of the family are subjects of lawsuits involving financial matters, but there's no discussion of the issues--they're just mentioned as if persecution. The author's uncle is featured in much of the book, but there's no mention that he was attacked by a tiger almost two years ago.

I'd say that if you'll enjoy amusing stories of life in Africa, go ahead and read this. If you're looking for something deeper, give it a pass.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Niki Collins-queen, Author VINE VOICE on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In "Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home" Boyd Varty, now in his late 20's and wise beyond his years, shares amazing stories about his extraordinary life working and living on South Africa's Londolozi Game Reserve.
Although Londolozi was originally founded as a hunting ground by Boyd's ancestors in the 30s his father and uncle, both visionaries of the restoration movement, transformed Londolozi into a nature reserve in 1973. They not only restored the ravaged land but created a sanctuary for animals and people. Nelson Mandela came to the reserve to recover when he was released after twenty-seven years of imprisonment.
"Cathedral of the Wild" is ultimately a spiritual journey of transformation. It's about the power of the wild to inspire wonder and to heal and restore the human spirit. Boyd observed, "Maybe that's why all the mystics went to nature. Maybe Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad wanted to hear the Creator speak through his creation."
Boyd and his older sister learned to track wild animals, filmed wildlife with their Uncle John and raised leopards and lion cubs at Londolozi.
Boyd shares his many adventures and misadventures - surviving a scary black mamba encounter, a life-threatening bout with malaria and a dangerous crocodile attack. However, Boyd and his family's greatest challenge came during a 10-year series of misfortune. These include the death of his paternal grandmother, lawsuits concerning CC Africa, the family company's loss of money and Boyd, his mother and sister being held at gun-point during a home invasion in Johannesburg.
Boyd's crisis takes him on a spiritual quest around the world and back again. He laments, "The jungle of men does not have the same rules as the jungle of animals.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
UPDATED REVIEW: I corrected a typographical error wherein I indicated the author was a descendant of the reserve instead of the founder of the reserve. Love to receive comments from the eagle-eyed reviewers. Thank you.

The copy of Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home is absent of photographs and illustrations, so it is not possible for me to give this book five stars. A book of this sort desperately needs photographs to back up certain claims experienced by author Boyd Varty.

Why? Much of this book deals with times at Londolozi Game Reserve, one of the most famous game preserves in the world. As such, it is natural to expect to see fantastic pics of wildlife, including even so great action shots. Yet, my review copy has zero.

Further, it would be easier to empathize with the author to see photographs of him and his family at various stages of his growing up.

Still, the book has interesting tales well worth reading. I especially enjoyed the chapter The Rock, wherein his mother goes on strike and rides on a game drive. I suppose this hit home with me, because my mother reacted similarly when she felt neglected by Dad and us kids.

I also was glued to his every word as he related the harsh realities of life in the new South Africa. I will not give any spoilers here. Rest assured, though, that although, as Varty puts it, eliminating apartheid was long overdue, security in the new South Africa has caused great anxiety and hardship. I've worked with and chatted with scores of South African expats in North Africa and North Dakota, all of whom miss their home, but have left for employment where they feel safe.

Before I forget to mention, Londolozi Game Reserve was honored with a stay by Nelson Mandela, as Mandela adjusted to his release from prison. Also, Boyd Varty is the great grandson of the game reserve's founder.

I heartily recommend Cathedral of the Wild by Boyd Varty.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home
This item: Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home
Price: $27.00 $20.34
Ships from and sold by

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?