the rise of the firefly

The day has turned into night and we set out from our sundowner stop, into the chilly air as winter begins to set in. Darkness falls fast in Africa and our tracker waves his spotlight from side to side looking for the reflection of eyes from some of the elusive nocturnal species that moves around the reserve under this cloak of darkness. We make our way down into the river and kill the lights, the sounds of the crickets, cicadas and katydids fill the air and your eyes are dazzled by the iridescent green flashes of the fireflies moving up and down the watercourse looking for mates.

Fireflies and water

For most of you this will bring back memories from childhood as you used to catch these and stick them in jars. You now feel alone in the middle of nature, where lions roam, the air is clean and all things work in harmony. The pulsing green lights leave you spell bound before you realise that there are even more lights above you as the winter night sky looms over head.

Fireflies and water

Suddenly there is a new green light that waves across the sky as I put on my laser pointer and start to explain the constellations. The constellation of Scorpio begins to rise in the east as its greatest adversary, Orion, sets in the west. In Greek mythology, the goddess of earth, Gaia, sent the scorpion out to kill Orion, the great hunter, to bring balance back to nature. Since then the two constellations have been chasing each other around the planet.

Marula stars

Star trail

The winter sky has the greatest number of stars as we look back towards the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. We all sit mesmerised by the thousands of flickering lights and surrounded by the beautiful fireflies pulsing away in their Morse Code of love, as I explain the ins and outs of our amazing galaxy, the stars and the infinite magnitude of the universe. What a way to end off another perfect day in the African bush.



  1. althea karels says

    Thank you Richard for the detailed event. I was fotunate to experiance Sabi Sabi in 2010, and have not stopped longing to return.

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