A wonderful element of a 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.
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…
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! 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!
Written by Adam Bannister
Photography by Adam Bannister and Rich Laburn
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