Having missed winter in the bush last year, the crisp air we are starting to experience in the mornings gets me excited.
Growing up, I only got to experience the bush in winter so maybe that is when the love affair for this time of the year started.
You drive out of camp and the smell of the dust and grass hits you almost at the same time the wind chill wraps around your face, cozied up in comfy blankets. “Snug” is the word you’d describe yourself with.
It’s still fairly dark; you know there’s already one thing to look forward to, the shades of crimson red and orange that make up an African sunrise. More often than not you can’t help but stop to take a photo of that very sunrise that you eagerly await.
While you admire the sunrise, the stillness in the air allows you to hear the bush awaken. Impalas rutting sound like there’s an orchestra in each valley and crest but it is the lion’s roar that really grabs your attention. With sound travelling further in the cool still air, you know that male lion isn’t actually close. After silently listening to him announce his presence, as a team you – tracker and ranger – set off to find him.
You stop as you see the lion’s prints embedded in the soft, almost frosty soil. Clearly mapped out, you see the path he took through the bent dry grasses. The tracker is convinced the lion is going to drink at a nearby pan; with some swift driving, only making you feel the cold a little more, you get to the pan and wait…
The sunbeams begin to shine on the water and dappled light hits your face, slowly warming you up. Just as you close your eyes to embrace that warmth, your ranger shouts excitedly, “There! There he is.”
You witness this majestic male walk to the water’s edge and start to lap up icy tongue-fulls of water. After sitting with him for some time, having the opportunity to see him clearly with little vegetation blocking your view thanks to the season’s drier conditions, he slowly strolls to a thicker area for some shade. This creates the perfect time for a morning coffee stop.
Coffee and tea tastes – and simply feels – better on a cold morning.
Afternoons hold a whole new story with warmer conditions. You drive parallel to the Sand River and watch the herds of elephant feed and enjoy the coolness as they splash water amongst themselves.
As water becomes more scarce, you find a plethora of wildlife in and around the semi-full waterholes, keeping you entertained throughout the afternoon.
The sun starts to set.
Simply put, South African bush winter sunsets cannot be beaten.
As you sip on a gin and tonic and watch the sun sink behind the Drakensberg mountains, that same call that got you excited early that morning, vibrates across the plains on which you stand. It is time for that male lion to find the pride, and you hear them responding far in the distance.
The nip in the air comes back, you dream about being around the consuming fire back at Founders Camp, excited to share your stories of the most unbelievable day.
If that hasn’t sold you enough then I don’t know what will.
Filed under General Nature Safari experience Travel
Dean, wonderful story with the sunrise and sunset pictures, thanks.
Dean, I loved lions🤗
What cracking prose …
Whilst guests snuggle under blankets on the early morning drive and realise for the first time that Africa can be cold in the mornings
We agree wholeheartedly! Winter is the best no matter where you are! We love Africa in the winter and we love our home in the winter because we can hike without getting overly hot and there is less vegetation. That makes the trails easier and safer to follow. The sunrises and sunsets are beautiful here, but we sure enjoy yours too! The lion’s roar, well there is no comparison!!! Perfection!
A great piece of writing Dean. I feel like i am almost there!
🙂 🙂 Sold………………….
Great story Dean, can just feel that special winter’s morning !
What a lovely poetic way to describe winter. A misty morning, the sun rising, how beautiful this is.
A great skill in writing a wonderful tale with breathtaking images
I’m signing up. Next trip to be in winter, although I did enjoy the fall – the cool mornings and not too warm sunny days. Well-written Dean!
Yes Dean, you’ve totally sold it to me – I’m always dreaming of being back in Founders, fire or no fire. And for me the perfect drink at the morning’s coffee stop is a hot chocolate and Amarula, especially when it’s cold. Might go and have one now….
Wonderful story Dean and your foto’s are absolutely stunning. That Othawa male is a majestic lion and we are so privileged to get these stunning foto’s of him and the beautiful scence of the misty morning. I’m sure it is an experience to see Londolozi so early in the morning and smell the clean cool air and hear the lions roar so early and to hear the animals waking up to a new day, makes it worth the early rise and you soon will forget the cold breeze.
Three months to go!
I have posted previously that I love the golden fall/winter hue.
Good morning Dean! .. Your essay about the bush makes me literally want to cry. All the wonderful representations of nature surrounding Londolozi are a “affirmation” upon what I have been feeling amidst the Universe’s “Calling”. – I have been come to learn to appreciate the “uniqueness” of what it is to feel “still” for quite some time now, that I have never known before. I feel as if I have been given a path of direction for my near future. I am so profoundly touched by your feelings and insight upon what it is to feel the “Outback” of South Africa. Thank You for presenting a TRUE possibility.
You captured the feelings and emotions well, Dean – and made me wish I were there again in a cool winter morning! Next April…!!
The perfect account of the ideal day at Londo Dean. I, for one, need little enticement to be there on an Autumn/winter day! Nothing like it. We will continue to enjoy every blog you all put up for us to enjoy until we can be physically present to soak in that sun rise and sunset together 🙏🏻💕
I felt the morning crispness and the reward of the evening sunset. Very descriptive with excellent images.
I detest the cold, but there is something magical about a crisp fall morning as the light wakes up the earth. In Africa, it would certainly be worth any momentary discomfort.
we have not been at Londolozi in winter, but it looks gorgeous and perhaps we should try it if we can ever travel again! thank you for the beautiful photos!! Victoria
Hi Dean. Thanks for a wonderful description of Winter in the Bush at Londolozi. You write very well and paint pictures one can almost SEE as one reads. We know and love the Bush. Haven’t been to Londolozi – yet. Wendy and Neil MacNicol
Wow this is a great description of what a winter day in the bush holds in for you. I can’t think of something better!
A beautifully lyrical description of any idyllic place during a very special season! Thanks Dean for these inspiring words!