We often get asked which is the best season to visit Londolozi and we all have our answers based on our own preferences. Each season has its pros and cons. Some people prefer the cold winter mornings with a hot-chocolate-Amarula-coffee in hand, while others prefer the sound of the Sand River rushing past bringing the bird and frog calls of summer with it. Personally, I don’t have a favourite season, I love different aspects of each season. In summer, there are a few changes in animal behaviour I look forward to watching.
Elephants! Elephants! Elephants!
Elephants by a waterhole or near the Sand River are always amusing in summer. They need to drink on a daily basis, but with the heat of summer around, they will take any opportunity to use the water to help cool themselves down. Watching them suck water into their trunks to spray behind their ears or scooping up a pile of mud to throw on their backs is always great fun. Occasionally I’m lucky enough to watch them fully immerse themselves in the water and swim or roll around in the water playfully climbing on top of each other.
Elephants are amazing in that they are always doing something. If they’re not around water, they will be seen roaming through the open crests, enjoying the marula fruit or any other lush vegetation and grass available. Watching the younger elephants follow suit or mimic the older ones is also a favourite.
Another special event is the return of migratory birds in summer. Many of which enter their breeding season upon their return. The breeding season means that birds will undergo some form of mating display in order to attract and secure a mate. This is done either through a brightly coloured plumage, dancing display, melodious call, or through their architectural abilities to build a nest. On one particular road, in the southern section of Londolozi, a few Red-Headed Weavers have been in the process of building their nests in a buffalo thorn tree that overhangs the road.
This is an intricate process whereby the males will fly off in search of their building materials. The Red-headed Weaver’s collect mostly twigs and the midribs of larger leaves. The leaves are then stripped off and he begins to build a ring, then adds the chamber, with a ceiling of leaves. He then builds a vertical entrance tunnel. It takes almost a week to complete such an intricately woven nest which is very impressive. I am so fond of watching the birds build nests and the splash of coloured feathers everywhere.
The abundance of birdlife, and birdsong in the summer makes the bush come alive. Whether it be a party of birds, or eagles and swallows feeding on the winged alates (reproductive flying termites) – I truly find it hard not to look into the sky without my binoculars ticking off numerous birds from the list with excitement.
Lush Green Landscapes
Lastly, I love how the bush transforms into a lush green landscape with a dark green backdrop in most scenes. The transformation of the bushveld, from dull browns of winter to multi-coloured greens of summer absolutely amazes me. Summer is like a painter’s palette with every possible shade and hue of green. I love the contrast of the animal’s skin against the green surroundings, it makes photos a lot more vibrant.
The inflorescences of the grass in full bloom swaying in the wind, makes them look like twinkling Christmas lights on a Christmas tree as the golden light of the setting sun illuminates them.
Summer is full of many magical moments and scenes. With the warmth and moisture that summer brings, the bush transforms into a haven of life and excitement. It’s during this time that the colours are stunning, the animals are healthy and the birdsong rings out aloud where ever you are. This time of year truly fills me with happiness. What is your favourite time of year to visit us? I would love to know in the comments section below…