First Rains Surprise

News update: 1st November

The first spring rains arrived earlier than usual this year, surprising everyone with their intensity. Unseasonably heavy rainfall gripped much of South Africa at the beginning of October causing flash floods in some areas of the country, but not at Sabi Sabi, where the rains were a very welcome relief from the dry winter.

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For the weeks preceding the wet weather the bushveld appeared to be preparing for it. Trees, bushes and plants started showing the first signs of tentative new growth with tiny buds and young leaves ready and waiting to burst into life at the first life-giving drops. And, as usual, the bushveld didn’t disappoint. Almost overnight the landscape was transformed as the browns of winter morphed into the early flush of bright spring green. Blossoms and young fruit adorned the plants with a determined sense of renewal.

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The Marula trees are starting to blossom, ready to bear their delicious fruit mid-summer. The deep red flowers of the Weeping Boerbean trees are dripping with nectar. A huge variety of brightly coloured wild flowers are brightening every corner of the reserve, and the pinks and whites of Crinum lilies are reflected in the sparkling water filling the seasonal pans which had dried up in winter. Birds and insects fill the air with their calls and songs, waking before dawn to take advantage of the new season and dry earth tones change into vibrant shades of green. Several of the migratory bird species have already returned – the first Wahlbergs eagles were seen just before the rain – and will soon be followed by the dozens of other inter and intra-continental species which summer at Sabi Sabi. When the first distinctive calls of the Woodlands kingfishers are heard late October, summer will have truly arrived.

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The rains once again restart the eternal cycle of life in the bushveld. The greening of the grasses and the budding of leaves provide an attractive and nutritious source of food for grazing and browsing antelope and their young. The healthy and abundant antelope attract the predators which prey on them. Carrion provides a food source for the scavengers which follow the predators – and so it continues. Wildlife sightings at Sabi Sabi were phenomenal before the rains, and have been incredible since the rains.

Summer, with its hot sunny days, is just around the corner, but guests in the know have discovered that whatever the season, come rain or shine, safari drives in the unspoilt Sabi Sabi bushveld will always be an unforgettable experience.