If anyone ask what my favourite season is, I’ll always reply with, “It’s so difficult to choose really, there is something special each season.”
Truthfully, it’s the change into each season that steals my heart, that small peak in the environment before the full change sets in. The bright green palette of lush summer slowly starts to fade, allowing for the most vibrant colours to be birthed.
Passages of light green now meet corridors of deep reds and oranges that grip the roadside in what feels like a deep warm fiery hug. As I drive, the autumn leaves look so inviting and warm.
The air is definitely cooler, crisper. Smothering your cheeks and the tips of your fingers in a deathly cold grip, its grasp is diminished when you come across your first sighting for the morning.
Winter certainly brings about a new meaning of of life. As vegetation becomes scarce, opportunities for predators rise and death reeks though dry valleys. This pride stole a prized kill from a young opportunistic pride of lions who successfully managed to take down a buffalo.
With eyes already much larger than their bellies, seven little cubs bound over to take advantage of the remains. Although already dead, the cubs rush around in an “attempt” to take down the large beast. Once satisfied with their skill, they settle in to feed on the opened carcass.
A beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller sat patiently as we captured it in all its glory. Pictured beautifully in the morning light as the surrounding vegetation offered a beautiful backdrop. The contrast of colour between the burnt orange and bright blues made for a memorable winter morning.
A much-needed coffee break awaits as the sun starts to break through the cold air; a stop to appreciate an exciting morning. Freshly ground coffee, topped with an Amarula delight or even a steamy hot chocolate is on offer. Guests and guides indulged in great conversation and share in the excitement of the safari. Soaking up the sounds of the birds and sometimes the general plains game that remain feeding nearby.
An afternoon safari brings with it a warm glow of adventure. A slightly warmer start settles into magical golden hours that provide glorious photographic opportunities.
I’m reminded of one magical afternoon. Setting out in search of buffalo, we knew that they would be making their way to a watering hole for an afternoon drink. Deciding that we will opt to settle in at the waterhole was probably the best decision we made all afternoon. There is simply nothing more rewarding than watching the beauty of a winter afternoon come together so wonderfully.
Listening to the large herd rumble through the bushes as they fed, the anticipation was rising. We couldn’t help but fear that their slow, sluggish movement would result in them approaching long after the sun had set, losing out on that beautiful golden sweet spot we witnessed peak through the trees.
However, in the small gap between the vegetation, flies started to buzz and rise from the drainage line, dancing in the light. Excitement rose as one by one they stuck their heads out of the drainage line, making a slow, tentative approach toward the watering hole.
It can be difficult to imagine the contrast that takes place throughout the year, the change from life to death in both wildlife and vegetation. Completely ripping up the very existence of life and rebirthing it all over again. But the process in between, the changeover, is extraordinary to witness. A special place to be any time of the year.