Safaris at dawn and at dusk are as diverse, as dramatic and as different as … day and night.
Each has its own special magic, guaranteed to create unforgettable memories. A daylight safari is filled with spectacular sightings of diurnal species and as night falls, a whole new world awakens, as nocturnal species come to life under the inky African night sky.
Diurnal species and birds wake with first light and start their daily routine of feeding, drinking, breeding and nurturing. The majority of herbivores are diurnal, feeding in daylight and taking shelter from predators at night. An exception to the rule is the hippo, which wiles away the sunlit hours generally submerged in rivers or dams, and emerges at night to graze (often quite far from their water home and sometimes on the Earth Lodge pathways).
These diurnal species are never far from danger, even though most of their natural predators are active at night. They can never completely relax, always keeping an eye or ear open for the sound of a stealthy footfall or sudden attack. Antelope, elephants, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest and the majority bird species are diurnal.
Crepuscular creatures are most active at twilight – between dusk and dawn. These include bats, fireflies, spotted hyena and wild dogs and they go about their daily routines while capitalising on available light.
After sunset, felines – big and small – become more active along with nocturnal birds such as owls and nightjars. There are quite a few insects such as Clicking beetles and Katydids, which are also active after sunset. Reptiles such as geckos are commonly seen during nightfall (often due to the cooling of the day and energy levels resurging after the heat of the day). The cheetah alone, of the big cats, is not a creature of the night, preferring to hunt during the day and taking shelter after dark.
While it is common to see lions and leopards during the day, it is under cover of darkness when they are at their deadliest, stalking diurnal (mostly night blind) prey, attacking and devouring their kill before the scavengers arrive with first light. Smaller cats such as serval, civet and genet are also nocturnal and make for unusual sightings.
Diurnal animals have reduced visual capacity at night, making them ideal prey for nocturnal predators, which have excellent night vision and are unperturbed by artificial lights. Diurnal species, however, get dazzled and ‘blinded’ by these lights at night, making them vulnerable to attack. Sabi Sabi ranger and trackers teams, therefore, avoid shining any form of light on diurnal animals after nightfall. Even rare sightings such as cheetah are considered off limits after dark, allowing the animals the best chance of survival when faced with a night time predator. This is in line with, and adhering to, our strict ethics of minimum interference and conservation of the environment we are in.
Night time in the bush is dark and quiet to many onlookers. However, in reality this is the time of day most of the stalking and hunting of prey occurs, as well as attacking and defending of territories for many of Sabi Sabi’s carnivorous residents. All happening under the cover of darkness, awaiting the sun to rise over the African bushveld for the cycle of life to start anew.
For our guests of course, night time is very much a time of gathering to chat about their safari experience on return to the lodge. In the absence of artificial light, we turn our (diurnal) eyes to the wonder of the infinite night sky, millions of blazing stars, the sounds of a crackling fires and the evening time noises of the wilderness. All four of our 5-star lodges will be illuminating the black of night with the warm glow of lanterns, candles and oil lamps – creating an enchanting ambience.
On 25th March 2017 at exactly 20:30, Sabi Sabi will unite with the global Earth Hour initiative, switching off all lights on the reserve for sixty minutes. Earth Hour, a worldwide movement, creates environmental awareness and commitment to protecting our planet. Climate change is a heavy burden for Mother Earth to bear; mass participation towards eradicating global warming and the support of millions of people around the world is essential in the fight for a sustainable future. So in essence, Sabi Sabi celebrates Earth Hour every night.
We are proud to be part of this global campaign organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). As guardians of this pristine unspoilt part of the African continent, we are committed to protecting our precious resources and irreplaceable ecosystem.