We are always asked when is the best time to visit Sabi Sabi and our answer is – any time. The bushveld is wonderful the whole year, each month having its own special characteristics and beauty.
The bush is usually lush, green and bursting with colour. There is the constant sound of birdsong and frogs croaking. Long hot days are followed by fiery sunsets and balmy evenings. The animals are sleek and well fed, and there is an abundance of water in pools and puddles and the perennial rivers.
The days remain long with very slightly cooler temperatures and the odd short-lived, exciting thunderstorm. Warm daybreaks are ideal for morning safaris, birds are still abundant and the latest crop of animal babies are a bit older and bolder and are much more visible.
Subtle changes start occurring; a hint of autumn is in the air and rainfall is experienced less frequently. Large herds of plains animals make the most of the still-green vegetation…and where there is prey there are always predators in close proximity!
Autumn makes its appearance. The trees starts changing to vibrant colours as the leaves become hues of red, brown and yellow. The rutting season begins and the animals prepare for winter. The days are shorter, and mornings and evenings are still comfortably warm. With little or no rain the skies are clear and bright.
The dry winter months have started. Water is becoming scarcer and as the grasses get drier and shorter, animal viewing is abundant. The migratory bird species start their long journeys northward – some travelling as far as India and China.
Winter is in full swing but in this region the mild climate makes for comfortably warm days with chilly early mornings and nights. Game viewing is superb as the animals venture out in search of water, gathering around the pans and watering holes.
Midday temperatures are still warm, but it is now necessary to layer clothing in the mornings and evenings. Dry conditions prevail and the big herds break up into smaller groups. The bare winter trees make exquisite silhouettes against the endless blue skies – any photographers dream.
There is a promise of Spring in the air as the days begin to lengthen. It is now a little warmer, but it is still dry and the vegetation is sparse. Wildlife is still easy to find as animals frequent the dams, pans and waterholes, which are by now the only water sources.
Spring arrives full of potential. The bushveld seems to hold its breath waiting for early rains. The days are noticeably longer, some green shoots appear in the dry bush and the dawn chorus of birds and insects escalates. Some of the female animals are showing signs of pregnancy.
The environment is bursting with colour, a myriad shades of green. The first animal babies are born and a few species of migratory birds arrive back filling the air with new sounds.
Summer rainfall starts with the onset of magnificent afternoon thunderstorms soaking the bushveld for a short time – then disappearing. The temperatures are much warmer, day and night. There are newborn animals everywhere. The vegetation is lusher and denser, bushveld flowers burst into bloom, dotting the landscape with their magnificent colours. With all the youngsters filling the reserve, predators abound to take their opportunities.
A festive air is evident as the year draws to a close. The long hot days of summer are here, and the fresh mornings and warm evenings are a welcome relief. The green bushveld teems with life and all the migrant birds are back. With an abundance of wildlife and predators on the prowl, game viewing is spectacular.
Month by month, year by year, the cycle of life continues in this unspoilt paradise that is the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve.