A safari should never be run according to a specific formula. Granted, there are certain times of the day when wildlife is more active and the light is better for photography, so heading out on game drive tends to be far more productive then, but too strict a framework will tend to tie you down somewhat, so it’s usually better to just head out there and see what happens.
One time-honoured tradition that is still very much a part of the DNA of safari however, is the sundowner.
The term may be new to some international guests, but it essentially means a cool libation (generally alcoholic, with Gin & Tonic being the accepted standard) enjoyed at sunset, with which one reflects upon the day’s sightings and simply soaks up the magnificence of Africa.
By no means should you interrupt a wild lion sighting simply because protocol dictates that you should be stopping for a drink, but if you do happen to be winding down towards the close of day, here are three of our absolute favourite spots to enjoy a cold beverage as the daytime patrol ends and the night stalkers come out to play…
Ximpalapala Koppie, Londolozi
Drink of Choice: Gin and Tonic
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the landmark that was used as inspiration for Pride Rock in The Lion King.
In fact, generation upon generation of both lions and leopards have used it for densites, and continue to do so to this day. The rangers at Londolozi will always leave it well alone if they suspect one of the resident big cats might be secreting cubs there, but for the rest of the time, it’s fair game to climb and enjoy one of Africa’s most stunning views from.
To the north, east and south lies the rest of Londolozi and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, with the horizon fading into the Kruger National Park in the far distance. To the west sits the fastness of the Drakensberg escarpment, with the gash of the Blyde River Canyon – the third largest in the world – just visible near where the sun sets.
If you’re lucky a lion might be roaring in the distance while the light fades and you reflect on the magic of this place.
Drink of Choice: White Wine
Technically not a safari destination, but Cape Town features prominently on many people’s itineraries, and enjoys such spectacular sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean, that we felt it would be remiss of us not to include it.
With the chilly waters of Hout Bay lapping the shore just below you, Chapman’s Peak rising high up above and the iconic outline of The Sentinel – a huge rock formation on the opposite side of the bay – providing an imposing silhouette, Tintswalo Atlantic puts you right up against the wildness of the ocean.
Salt air around you, the mournful cry of seagulls floating by and the flora aroma of the local fynbos permeating the ether… you will be captivated by one of Cape Town’s finest jewels.
Throw in a dish of fresh seafood and you have a combination made in heaven.
Anywhere in Kaokoveld/Damaraland, Namibia
Drink of Choice: Tafel Lager
Namibian sunsets are of a different ilk.
The space, the silence, the overwhelming grandeur of the country… very few places in the world afford one such agreeable isolation.
The north-western corner of Namibia – the Damaraland and Kaokoveld regions – are where some of the true magic lies. Desert elephants walk along ancient pathways and desert adapted black rhinos trundle their way through the sparse euphorbias.
Sunsets here last an age and bathe the entire landscape in a surreal golden hue. The silence is deafening.
With an ice-cold beer in hand as the sun goes down – Tafel Lager is locally brewed – you will never feel as refreshed in body, mind and soul…