Our top ten sundowner spots
Cocktails anyone? Safari tradition dictates that the end of the day be celebrated with a traditional sundowner – and snacks, of course! – enjoyed as the last golden rays of the setting sun impart their hue to the surrounding wilderness. Whether accompanied by designer G&Ts, local brews/wines, or some ice-cold water for the somewhat sunburned, there is no doubt that Africa boasts some of the planet’s best places to watch the sun go down.
Here is a list of some of our favourite sundowner spots, and why (in no particular order):
1. The Oloololo Escarpment, Maasai Mara, Kenya
The Oloololo Escarpment rises sharply 300 metres above the plains of Maasai Mara, affording visitors an extraordinary view of the serpentine path of the Mara River. If you are a fan of classic films, you might recognise this spectacular vantage as the one seen in the film Out of Africa. Recreate your own African romance and celebrate the spectacle that is the Great Migration. Take a moment to breathe, take a step back, and quite literally see the “big picture”.
2. Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia
The stark beauty of this salt and clay pan at the heart of the Namib-Naukluft National Park lies in the towering cerise dunes – some of the world’s largest. The rich, soft sand that has drifted in over the centuries begins to glow as the sun sets while the barking geckos begin their evening chorus. It is time to settle back with a sundowner and watch the rise of arguably the best stargazing display in Africa.
3. Victoria Falls Zimbabwe (or Zambia)
The world-famous Victoria Falls marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. As the mighty Zambezi tumbles down over 100 metres, it throws up a spray that can, on occasion, be seen for kilometres. At dusk the descending peace allows you to consider what David Livingstone must have felt when he first laid eyes on the world’s largest waterfall.
4. Ngorongoro Crater, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
At the centre of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area lies the Crater – the largest intact caldera in the world – surrounded by a rim that rises 2,300 meters above the grasslands below. Almost all Africa’s iconic animals, including the Big 5 and beyond, shelter in this geological cradle. Where better to appreciate the ancient geological forces that shaped East Africa than from the rim of a massive, extinct volcano? It’s a bit like stepping back in time to a lost world (but with readily available drinks).
5. Naga stream, Odzala-Kokoua National Park, the Republic of Congo
Odzala-Kokoua National Park, rich in biodiversity, lies in the northern reaches of the Republic of the Congo and protects an enormous expanse of pristine Central African rainforest. Its many streams tumble their way through the trees before draining into the swampy forest baïs. Okay, so this is less about the sunset (the most you will see are some golden shafts filtering through the trees) and more about the atmosphere befitting a life-changing sundowner, soaking tired feet after a day spent with lowland gorillas.
6. Chobe River, Chobe National Park, Botswana
The Chobe River, the lifeblood of Chobe National Park, marks the border between Botswana and Namibia before its confluence with the Zambezi River to the east. A sundowner is, in theory, meant to be a relaxing experience, but the sense of anticipation as thirsty wildlife approaches the water’s edge in the day’s final moments adds another dimension to your sundowner.
7. Lake Malawi, Malawi
Lake Malawi/Lake Nyasa is an African Great Lake – the southernmost lake in the East African Rift System and the fifth-largest freshwater lake in the world. The shores are lined by unspoiled sandy beaches, and below the surface, over 1,000 different freshwater fishes dart between the rocks. Why Lake Malawi? Because beaches, sunsets and cocktails are a winning combination.
8. Lanner Gorge, Makuleke Contractual Park, Kruger, South Africa
This magnificent viewpoint marks the border between the magical Makuleke Contractual Park and the Kruger National Park. Here the Luvuvhu River has carved a winding path through the sandstone to create a breathtaking gorge that is over 150 metres deep at some points. The views from the lookout point provide the perfect spot to ponder what life must have been like for the people of Africa’s ancient civilizations 900 years ago.
9. Luangwa River, South Luangwa, Zambia
Life in the Luangwa Valley centres around the Luangwa River and the rich floodplains that spill over into the surrounding savannahs and woodlands. South Luangwa is the largest of the valley’s four national parks and is renowned for the enormous herds of elephants and buffalos that congregate along the riverbanks. After an adrenaline-tinged day of walking in Big 5 country, soaking your feet in the cool waters of the Luangwa River is the perfect way to decompress.
10. Wherever you are, Africa
Wherever you might find yourself in Africa, enjoying the beach, sitting with sleepy lions, decompressing after a walking safari. Stay there. Take a moment, look up and appreciate the unique display nature has prepared for you.
We’ve shown you ours, and now it’s your turn. Tell us about your favourite sundowner spot or memory by joining our private travel & conservation club and commenting below this story. Details on how to join can be found below.
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