morning or evening - every time is best


news update: 3rd november


One of the most exciting things about visiting Sabi Sabi is that there are both morning and evening open Land Rover game drives, and that all these safaris are automatically included in the daily programme. The question is often asked………………what is the best time for viewing game, and does the dawn or dusk safari offer more? The answer is an unequivocal - both!!!


Seasoned bush goers and safari lovers may have their own favourite game-viewing times and firm opinions on when is the best time to be out in the bushveld, but the reality is that each outing at Sabi Sabi holds its own magic and the promise of unbelievable sights and sounds.


cheetah on safari at Sabi Sabi


Some guests are reluctant to get out of their warm, luxurious beds when they are woken for the dawn drive, but once awake and out in the open, they are really thankful that they didn't sleep in. Early mornings in the bushveld are crisp and fresh, with sparkling dew reflecting the early morning rays of sunshine. As the sky lightens and the sun rises above the horizon the day begins to warm. The bushveld is filled with a cacophony of song as the birds start calling to each other. Rangers and trackers are on high alert, following the myriad new spoor on the sand tracks which criss-cross the reserve. There is the anticipation of possibly finding a new kill made in the middle of the night. Maybe there will be a pride of lions lying with full bellies exposed, exhausted after gorging themselves - or a leopard with its prey balanced high up a tree, safe from most scavengers. Hyenas, vultures and jackals are never far away from a fresh kill, and they always provide fascinating viewing.


Plains game such as zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and a whole variety of antelope emerge, energised from making it safely to another day. As the morning gets underway the bushveld becomes fully alive. Busy warthogs are always very entertaining as they forage for food; baboons and monkeys shriek and call; and elephants make their way slowly through the bush, ever feeding. These, and other diurnal animals such as cheetah, rhino and buffalo are best seen during daylight hours, as the rangers and trackers are careful not to shine light into their eyes at night as this could damage their vision.


leopard sighting on safari game drive at Sabi Sabi


A treat on the morning safaris is the stop for hot coffee, tea or homemade delicacies midway through the drive. On cold winter mornings there are welcome blankets and hot water bottles to keep everyone warm, comfortable and happy to be out of bed.


There are guests who prefer the late afternoon safari experience, setting off while the sun is still high overhead and tracking nocturnal predators before they begin their nightly hunt. Raptors still circle above, having their last look for prey. The birdsong changes and the first little owls begin to hoot as dusk approaches. Smaller animals start heading towards their burrows seeking safety, and the plains game begins to settle for the night. This is the time when crepuscular predators such as the elusive serval hunt most actively, and for the avid birdwatchers there is always the possibility of spotting a bathawk. Nocturnal animals such as leopard and lion will start to move at this time of the day, and the rangers will endeavour to find these cats, following them as they begin their nightly hunt.


As the sun sinks below the horizon, the ranger will find a spot in the bushveld to stop and have sundowners. This is the time to watch the sky change colour, with the blue of day turning to the reds and golds of dusk, finally giving way to a black sky filled with millions of twinkling stars which just cannot be seen in an urban environment. Drinking cocktails and eating delicious snacks in the silence of the untamed wilderness, punctuated by the sounds of bushveld, is simply unforgettable. Frogs and insects call incessantly, hyenas whoop to each other, jackals bark, and there is always the chance of hearing the rasp of a leopard or the hair-raising roar of a lion.


lions on night safari game drive


As the drive continues into the night everyone's senses are heightened. Watching a leopard carefully stalk its prey or a pride of lions working together in silent communication is thrill for visitors and rangers alike. Even a little scrub hare frozen in the spotlight, a fiery-necked nightjar warming itself on the sand, or a huge giant eagle owl perched on a branch, its neck twisting as it searches for food, all of these nocturnal creatures are amazing to watch.


So, in answer to the original question, morning and evening safaris are both best - and we haven't even thrown the daily bush walks into the equation -that's yet another favourite Sabi Sabi experience! Fortunately you don't need to choose, visitors to the lodges can do them all.


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    We felt that we had entered a magical world, and returned home to Johnanesburg feeling like we'd been away for a week.

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