As winter begins to make its presence felt in the African Bushveld, we at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve are gearing up for what we consider a spectacular time of the year. It is the dry season here in the northern parts of South Africa, and it’s a time of both unexpected beauty and unusual activity.
Even though the days are mostly sunny and mild at this time of year, it can be a bit chilly in the early hours of the morning, but with guests wrapped in warm blankets, the safari vehicles depart for the first game-viewing drive of the day. The incredible colours of the early morning sky soon makes one forget the chill and as the sun begins to rise, it burns off the early morning mist and reveals the vast expanse of the bush, and all its wildlife. Our daytime temperatures can reach high twenties (Celsius) therefore we encourage guests to dress in layers. What starts off chilly soon ends in warmth as the heat of the African sun starts to bring life to a cold and misty morning.
Water is scarce during the winter months, so animals would congregate around waterholes and pans, providing visitors with wonderful game-viewing opportunities. This season, the crisp air reminds us that winter is most certainly on its way, however the late rainfall that we have experienced has altered the way we usually see the dry, drab winter. Generally, as the green palette fades, we welcome the warm colours of red and orange that leave the landscape kissed with a sense of warmth during this chilly period.
With the frequent and heavy rains, a substantial amount of water and greenery still lingers. This does mean that the large super herds of buffalo and elephant are now arriving later than usual. Due to the lack of water the dry season becomes a time of fascinating species interaction, not just around the waterholes, but around any potential source of food and water. Elephants become more active at this time of year, pushing over trees to snack on nutrient-rich roots and digging in dry riverbeds where they know water can be found deeper down, and many smaller animals would then follow in their footsteps, benefitting from their feeding habits. A symbiotic relationship that shows how species rely on each other and every element plays a vital role.
However, nature has a wonderful way of reclaiming order and she will soon allow for the well-known winter season to embrace the land in no time.
As winter progresses, grasses begin thinning out which makes it easier for our experienced trackers and guides to spot the more elusive animals from a distance – just a twitch of a tail or ear is enough for these experts to be able to point out wildlife to guests. The art of tracking is still very much an active ingredient in our safaris. This skill is used to read all signs that the bush offers us, and our trackers and guides will interpret this and use it to offer a safari resonating to that of a wild and protected area.
In the evening, spectacular sky views await as our guides find a quiet spot for sundowners and guests watch as the sun slowly slips under the horizon, with more awe-inspiring colours. Accompanied by the sounds of nocturnal animals calling into the dark night, the majestic night skies are revealed and millions of stars, planets and constellations take one’s breath away. Winter in the bush, with no ambient light from cities to affect the nightscape, provides some of the best stargazing you will experience.
Nourishing and Nurturing
A sumptuous dinner awaits as part of the true South African hospitality that has been at the heart of Sabi Sabi for the past four decades, making this such a home away from home in the bush. Guests can relax, with drink in hand, around a fire-pit, boma fire or indoor fireplace, with the winter chill forgotten as more memories of a bushveld getaway are made.
At each lodge, the unique characters of our chefs shine through as they prepare locally sourced and freshly prepared cuisine, and a wide array of wines, cocktails or brews that make fine companions to a great meal. Sabi Sabi’s extensive wine list has been recognised by the World of Fine Wines as one of the best in the world, with many wines from boutique wine farms and little-known vineyards all across South Africa. Guests can also choose from a selection of artisanal cocktails made from specially crafted gins, or quench their thirst with a South African craft brew.
Breakfast, lunch and high tea at Sabi Sabi are equally memorable, all enjoyed in the indoor/outdoor dining areas of the various lodges, with breath-taking views of the surrounding bushveld that make each mealtime a special occasion to nourish your body and nurture your soul.
Since the inception of Sabi Sabi some 40 years ago, we have been committed to the cornerstones of our philosophy, that of Tourism, Community and Conservation, and this has helped establish Sabi Sabi globally as one of the leading bushveld destinations in Africa. Through the years, Sabi Sabi has also garnered many awards, all thanks to the proud contribution of our staff and unwavering support and positive feedback of our amazing guests and friends worldwide.
While every season at Sabi Sabi has its own charm, winter is invigorating, exciting, and quite simply, one of the most beautiful seasons of the year in the bushveld.