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A Night Time Safari Experience

by Adam Bannister on October 15, 2011

in Leopards of Londolozi,Wildlife Diary

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A wonderful element of the Londolozi safari experience is the night drive! Once you have finished sipping on your gin and tonic having watched the sun sink below the Drakensberg Mountains it is time for us to turn on the spot light and drive around looking for the nocturnal creatures.

The sunsets at Londolozi are spectacular - Adam Bannister

As the sun dissapears below the horizon; colours radiate throughout the sky…mixtures of tones blended into a sensational mosaic. One can quite literally feel a change in the entire atmosphere of the bushveld. In fact it is more than a feeling…it borders on being a taste! One can never quite pin down the exact point that day turns to night but it is rather a seamless transition. Sitting silently, on the back of the landrover, for a couple of minutes during this time is a life changing experience. A sensory overload…

Driving through the bush in an open Landrover, at night can turn into a quite surreal experience at times - Rich Laburn

Driving through the bush in an open Landrover, at night can turn into a quite surreal experience at times - Rich Laburn

At first the bush seems quiet and subdued but only after some time do you realsie that it is only quiet to your eyes…night time is best experienced through the ears! Daytime birds are offering a final call before settling down for the night. Noisy Baboons are jostling for a sleeping position in their favourite tree. A myriad frogs croak their way from a nearby pan and in the distance a Barn Owl offers a harrowing screech. If you get extremely lucky you may even be amoung the handful of fortunate people who have ever heard the sound of a male lion as he roars his way to dominance.

Whilst one can not deny that game viewing at night is often very difficult and is not as productive as the day time version; what it does offer you is a chance to see animals which are difficult, if not impossible to view during the sunny hours. Spotted Hyeans, Snakes, Scorpions, Chameleons, Large Spotted Genet, Lesser Bush-babies, Wild Cats, Porcupine,Leopard, Lion, White-tailed Mongoose and even the illusive and exceptionally rare Aardvark and Pangolin.

And then of course there is the greatest spectacle of all…the stars! There are few better places on earth to gaze up into the heavens then Londolozi. With no light pollution and vast spilling horizons one is greeted nightly by countless constellations and wondrous planets. Shooting stars, satellites and even the International Space Station pass overhead. Even if one sees nothing on the night drive back to camp; you will have been privileged to have witnessed, experienced and lived Africa by night!

Stars overhead the entrance to Varty Camp - Rich Laburn

Stars overhead the entrance to Varty Camp - Rich Laburn

Written by Adam Bannister
Photography by Adam Bannister and Rich Laburn

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz October 15, 2011 at 12:14

Thanks Adam and Rich for bringing back so many cherished memories of night drive at Londolozi.
One drive began with the sighting of 3 male lions who rocked our souls as they roared right next to the vehicle – your recording gives me goosebumps and reduces me to tears, there is no more stirring sound. Another drive, lying on my back in the sand looking up at the stars (no, not too many puzas!) – then driving in very dimmed light to briefly view cheetah on the hunt, we soon left them in peace and followed 3 lioness and their cubs, who casually strolled by the vehicle. On the way back to camp finding a scops owl, a chameleon and a white tailed mongoose and thinking nothing could be finer after such wonderful sightings, enjoying the warm air, the smells of the night and feeling that my heart was filled with joy, and then nature produced yet another special experience, the moon rose above the trees and I felt like I had reached nirvana.
One day, I hope to return!

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Rich Laburn October 16, 2011 at 08:20

Liz you have capture the essence of what being out in the wilderness as night is all about. There are so many elements & senses which are heightened owing to the darkness and shifting in animal behaviour. And, of course, there is the beauty of scenes like the moon rising up above the trees. Thanks for your comment. Rich

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Sheena October 15, 2011 at 16:51

Now you guys are really spoiling us ! Already having bathed my eyes in Talley’s weekly photographic potion, (and it was glorious) you then give us goosebumps from a cloud! and glowing sunsets – this weekend the other stars shining bright are the Londolozi Blog Team!!

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Rich Laburn October 16, 2011 at 08:21

Thank you Sheena, thats very kind of you to say that. Just listen to the male lion roaring anytime you want those goosebumps to return.

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Michael Klauber October 16, 2011 at 00:13

Adam and Rich,

The sunsets were amazing! The leopard video is so amazing and scary at the same time. The eyes were on you!

Thanks for the blogs – they hit my desk at just the right time after the insanity of the day! I look forward to them each afternoon. Keep ‘em com in’ ! We will be back.

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Rich Laburn October 16, 2011 at 08:22

Great to hear Michael! Hopefully they took your mind off a busy days work and gave you a little bit of inspiration to be back here. Rich

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Syl October 16, 2011 at 04:22

I’m drooling. As always, great blog & pics.

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Rich Laburn October 16, 2011 at 08:22

Thanks Syl, much appreciated. R

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Penny Parker October 16, 2011 at 14:25

Goosebumps for days. There is something so special about the bush at night. When we start to head off to sleep, and the bush comes alive with sounds and smells and sights unbeknown to most. The deep roar of a lion travelling in the still night air, the whooping of a hyena to excite every heart, and the bush chorus of creepy crawlies and crickets chiming over the crackle of a brilliant camp fire to pull it all together. I feel so privileged to have experienced the bush at its best – and cannot wait to return as soon as possible.
I hope you had a wonderful weekend :)

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Merle October 17, 2011 at 00:13

I can’t get over how indifferent the animals are to the spotlight…thus making it possible to view their activities at night. We were there in August, too soon to enjoy another great aspect of Londolozi…but just makes me want to return even more—if that’s possible…to experience more adventures. In the meantime I’ll watch the videos and excellent verbal descriptions. Thanx.

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Duncan October 19, 2011 at 13:40

That was the most incredible electric storm I’ve seen in the bush on that saturday evening game drive. Awesome experience, great to visit Londoz again and seeing the crew.

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Adam Bannister October 19, 2011 at 15:21

It was amazing wasn’t it! Keep your eye on the blog next week for a write up on how to capture great photographs of lightning based on the images I captured on Saturday

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