Sundowner – South Africa
Throughout the early evening, as we traversed the mountainous landscape of South Africa’s Eastern Cape in the open-top Land Cruiser, the sun slowly approached the horizon. In one sense, the sun’s slow descent was indication that we would soon have to return to our lodge, which was the last thing we wanted to do since we were spotting animals everywhere we looked; however, the end of the evening drive always ends on a high note…with a sundowner. The sundowner is a time honored safari tradition, marking the transition from day to night and the end of the evening game drive.
At sunset, our guide pulled over the vehicle in what we can only assume and hope was a lion-free patch of land, and pulled out a cooler of traditional South African drinks and snacks. The two traditional drinks of the South African sundowner are gin and tonic and Amarula. There’s no better way to conclude a successful evening of wildlife viewing than with a cold drink in your hand while basking in the glow of an African sunset.
While the guides are extremely careful when selecting the perfect spot for a sundowner, there was always the thought in the back of our mind that one of the animals that we had seen on the drive was lurking nearby…
We had the pleasure of experiencing a sundowner in Greater Kruger National Park, which was a similar experience in a completely different setting than the mountainous Eastern Cape. While a glass of Amarula on ice tastes the same anywhere, the sunset takes on a completely different character in the flat, dry landscape of Kruger. Our guide from Umlani Bushcamp chose a secluded spot by the banks of a small pond. We knew there was a hippo on the other side of the pond, so we found ourselves periodically looking over our shoulders to make sure it was keeping its distance.
An African safari should be on anyone’s bucket list. Spending several hours each day driving around observing big game in their natural habitat is as good as it gets, and a sundowner is the ideal exclamation point to an unforgettable evening in the bush.