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Exploring the Traditions (and Sunsets) of an African Sundowner

June 23, 2014 at 11:27 AM | by | ()

With all the unfortunate things happening in the area, lost in the shuffle is the fact that one of nature’s most spectacular events, the Great Migration, is taking place at the moment, with millions of wildebeest crossing over between Tanzania and Kenya.

If going on a safari is on your bucketlist, then seeing the Great Migration should be in parenthesis. A few months ago, we discussed what the best time of year to go on a safari was, noting that with the Great Migration comes loads and loads of crowds. That’s why this travel writer feels Africa deserves two “trips of a lifetime,” one to see the savannas at peace and the another to experience the Great Migration.

Whenever you go, the occasion will definitely call for a celebration as you explore the world’s most dramatic ecosystem. We gave you the scoop on what to drink, but where should you set up shop during happy hour? With all the beautiful scenery around you, the last place you’ll want to be is cooped up in a bar.

Most African safari regions kick back with a custom called a “sundowner.” Sometimes it is offered through the on-site lodges as an organized event if you’re a guest, or if you’re just doing a day visit to one of the national parks, you can bring your own supplies. The concept is very simple: Find a peaceful spot out in the middle of the savanna or a perch overlooking a plain and have a few cocktails as the big African sun sets and the wilderness transitions from day to night.

Depending on how savvy you are, you can post up in a place that brings animal activity along with the sunset. Having a guide certainly helps to make that happen. During my recent visit to Kenya, my guide was able to get us close to two courting lions, who we observed as we sipped dawa cocktails. This observation produced one of my favorite photos of the trip (this lion!), as well as the ridiculous colors of the sky contrasted against the flat land and bushy trees of the savanna. Keep this fun (daily) tradition in mind when you make your own journey. Just make sure you leave your blanket at home. Obviously, staying in the safety of your car or safari van is imperative no matter how big your beer muscles are.

[Photos: Will McGough]

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