Sip a sundowner – Africa

Sip a sundowner – Africa

The sundowner is the traditional way to toast dusk in Africa, perfect taken after a day spotting elephant by the waterhole, canoeing past hippos or watching a lion make a kill

Sundowner [sun-dow-nuh],noun: an alcoholic drink taken after completing the day's work, usually at sundown. Or, better still, taken after a day spotting elephant by the waterhole, canoeing past hippos or watching a lion make a kill.

The sundowner is the traditional way to toast dusk in Africa. It is that magical hour, when the temperature starts to cool and the immense landscape softens, harsh yellows melting into soft ochres and flame reds. It is unspeakably romantic.

"You need a lookout onto a view - the bigger the better - but there are countless perfect spots," says Chris McIntyre, MD of Expert Africa (www.expertafrica.com). "A sundowner on akopje (small hill) overlooking the Great Migration inTanzania is amazing - best try this either by the pool at the (very) costly Sasakwa Lodge, or at the new Lamai Serengeti. You could do similar on many kopjes within the Serengeti, although you're not allowed to walk on most of them: you need to be in one of the park's 'wilderness areas', which are devoted solely to walking safaris.

"Alternatively, from Serra Cafema camp, innorth-west Namibia, you can take a quadbike onto one of the Hartmann's Mountains. Up here, you have the sun setting over the sensuous Namib dune-sea to the west, the game of the magical Marienfluss to your east, and the Kunene River and Angola close by to the north - and nobody else around for many, many miles.

"The Tsodilo Hills in Botswana's Kalahari have a palpable sense of history and spirituality (the hills are sacred for the Bushmen). It's now a Unesco World Heritage site, due to its amazing rock art, but there are still no lodges, and very few visitors. Camping here can be really special - enjoy the sunset, then the most amazing stars - there's absolutely minimal light pollution.

"A personal favourite is Cecil Rhodes' grave in Zimbabwe's Matobo Hills National Park: balancing rocks, great stars, great views, great history - the hills were sacred to the Ndebele, who fled into them when attacked by the Zulus; then they were 'adopted' by Cecil Rhodes. I had sundowners here in the company of Paul Hubbard, an archaeologist working as a guide who had a first-rate knowledge of the hills, their battle sites and ancient relics.

"Finally, I mustn't forget South Africa's Table Mountain: amazing views of Cape Town and the ocean, plus the cablecar runs until well after sunset."

TOP TIP

Sundown is generally the time to apply mossie repellent. Make sure you have wet wipes or water with you, so you can wash your hands after application to avoid eating snacks with hands covered in DEET.

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