Not everybody beams with excitement at the thought of winter. It also might not seem the best time to consider an outdoor holiday experience, but in fact, there are numerous reasons why this could be the absolute best time to be on safari at Sabi Sabi…
Winter in Sabi Sabi is from May to August. Conditions are cool and dry with temperatures ranging from 8-12°C in the crisp early mornings and late evenings to an average of 24-29°C in the daytime. This means that we have perfectly clear skies during the day and night, creating the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets. As if this isn’t enough, winter is the BEST time for going on a journey through the night sky. The Milky Way is seen in all its glory as we gaze into the centre of our galaxy in the winter months. With minimal light pollution, we are taken to another world by merely looking up at constellations such as Scorpius and the iconic Southern Cross. At the moment we can see Venus as the first object after sunset and we can even observe Jupiter and some of its (63) moons! This is a highlight for many of our guests!
The landscape appears more barren as many of our deciduous trees have lost their leaves and the grass layer has somewhat diminished, but beyond the sight of this dry, bare-looking land is a vast array of life. Game viewing in winter is remarkable! One can see much further into the bush and spot animals from miles away. The lack of freely available water suggests that animal movements can be a little more predictable as they need to travel to waterholes to quench their thirst. For example, large herds of buffalo congregate at these waterbodies which in turn draws predators such as lions to the area, often ambushing prey at waterholes. Some animals have a strategy of breeding in these cold and dry months for various reasons…
The shortened wavelengths of the sun trigger impalas into the rutting season. They seem to have a perfect plan as these bountiful antelope all mate in the month of May and synchronously give birth 6 and a half months later after the first rains have fallen and food is plentiful! Warthogs and wildebeest also breed in this time. The most endangered carnivore in Southern Africa, the Wild Dog, dens in winter when animals are weaker due to the lack of vegetation. This makes hunting easier so that the pack can eat and return to the pups to feed them by regurgitating some of their meal. Vultures have almost the same strategy. Thus, winter serves an important purpose for so many animals!
Warm blankets and snuggly hot water bottles are readily available to get you through those chilly mornings. Another highlight is stopping for coffee or hot chocolate with a dash of Amarula liqueur on a morning safari. A comforting fire is lit on your return from the afternoon safari to be enjoyed with a selection of the best red wine our country has to offer.
Do you need any more reasons to enjoy our winter wonderland in Sabi Sabi?
Blog by Chanyn-Lee Zeelie (Earth Lodge Ranger)
Images by Chanyn-Lee Zeelie, Terry Ennever, Kevan Dobbie and Kyle Strautmann
Video by Chanyn-Lee Zeelie