Over the last few weeks we have been experiencing a subtle change in the weather conditions at Londolozi, as should be expected at this time of year. Not only have temperatures dropped, meaning driving in the early mornings and late evenings is a lot crisper, but we last had proper rainfall three weeks ago on the 27th of March. We aren’t technically in winter yet… The 21st of March marked the Autumnal equinox in the Southern hemisphere, on this day the sun is positioned exactly above the equator, meaning that day and night are of equal length. Daylight time decreases and nighttime increases until the winter solstice on June 21.
There are a few events that, to me, mark the changing of the seasons. The first of which are the noticeable red flowers around camp.
Nature has its way of balancing things out and one example of this is many plants flowering at different times of the year.
There are numerous aloes around camp that have already started to bloom and feeding on the nectar of these beautiful pinky-red flowers are the equally beautiful sunbirds. Since these succulents started to flower at around the start of this month many species of sunbirds have been fluttering around feasting at the delicious nectar lying within the tubular reproductive organ of the plants.
Another notable observation is the presence of mist, especially in low-lying areas. Autumn and mist go hand in hand as the longer nights result in air cooling down more and instead of evaporating, forming a layer of mist in low-lying areas. Not only does this make for spectacular landscape scenery, but it makes a male lion’s roar that much more dramatic. A couple of mornings ago we were lucky enough to watch one of the Birmingham males advertising his territory with reverberating roars, the only difference is now there was a cloud of mist emerging from his mouth as the warn air from deep inside of his body was being expelled.
Although there are many more events that I could mention, the last and potentially most noteworthy are dusk and dawn. These daily occurrences in the bush are almost always spectacular, but they are, to me, that much more dramatic in winter. Because it rarely rains during the winter months, there is a lot more dust in the air and that creates a much deeper, burning sunrise and sunset in comparison to summer.
I personally have yet to experience Winter at Londolozi due to the pandemic induced lockdown sending me back to Johannesburg last year. And so even though the hues of green are slowly dissipating and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the migratory birds that now are travelling to warmer climates, I’m excited to welcome winters’ own joys and pleasures. We are able to more comfortably stay out a little bit later on morning game drives as animals stay active for longer and aren’t as inclined take refuge in the shade, and we can enjoy our dose of vitamin D without melting in the 40 degree heat of the Lowveld summer!