10 Best Safari Destinations to Watch an African Sunset
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The setting sun, so easy to explain scientifically and almost impossible to describe in words… We all agree Africa is pretty amazing – the incredible wildlife, dramatic landscape and unspoiled wilderness are bound to strike a chord in each of us. But wait till you see the sunsets!
“Africa – You can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the Hand of God” – Jodi Picoult (American author). Thanks to Africa’s geographically diverse realms – sand dunes, tropical forests, endless grasslands, arid plains and lush beaches, each day goes out with a bang. Sipping a sundowner at the end of a fun-filled, adventure-packed African safari is an absolute must, a time of reflection and daydreaming as the horizon catches fire and the land gets painted in red and orange hues.
For many of us, these sunsets are thousands of miles away. Nevertheless, through this post, we will try our best to bring them a little closer. Get ready to feast your eyes on Africa’s most stunning sunsets. Be warned, they might convince you to pack your bags!
10. Garden Route, South Africa
Photo by Günter Jagoditsch
Western Cape’s Garden Route is one of South Africa’s most iconic romantic retreats, secluded, quiet and far from the crowds. Its name comes from the diverse vegetation it displays, alongside a great number of lagoons and lakes. Plus, it offers some of the best beach sunsets in the world. Drive through the pristine coastline and don’t forget to make a few stops along the way.
Spend the night in one of the tranquil fishermen villages on the coast. For those with itchy feet, Tsitsikamma National Park on the Garden Route is excellent for hikers and has a campsite right by the ocean – a recipe for stunning sunset photos right from your tent door. And there’s nothing like watching mighty elephants passing in front of the setting sun in Addo Elephant Park just off the Garden Route.
9. The Zambezi River
Photo by Johnny Peacock
Glide down the Zambezi River at dusk while sipping sundowners and listening to the gentle murmur of the Savannah. For many miles in a row, its banks are isolated and far from human settlements, meaning that Africa’s wildlife will come to greet you from a distance.
Africa’s fourth-largest river flows through Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe until it enters the Indian Ocean through its delta in Mozambique. Long-distance travel on the Zambezi River is not possible due to the boiling rapids. However, there are parts of the river that are perfect for sunset cruises. One of them is the Victoria Falls, its gushing waters sending clouds of steam into the horizon, capturing and immortalizing the sun’s last rays.
8. Cape Town, South Africa
Thanks to its mild weather, South Africa’s sunsets are truly intensified. Table Mountain, the flat-topped mountain rising proudly above the spirited port city of Cape Town, is the very symbol of the area. Hike one of the many trails to the top or take the cable car. Either way, you’re in for a treat! Grab a bottle of wine and have a late picnic just as the sun dives into the Atlantic.
You don’t necessarily need to be on top of Table Mountain to be swept off your feet the moment the sun enters the ocean. You can watch the show from one of Cape Town’s harbors.
7. Lake Malawi
Photo by Andrew K
One of the African Great Lakes, Lake Malawi stretches across Tanzania, Mozambique and one-fifth of the country of Malawi. Watch the sun turn into a bright red fireball ready to plunge into the lake from a canoe safari. Oh, and try not to rock the boat! Blink, and you’ll miss the whole thing.
Surrounded by mountains, these wild shores are covered in golden sand. Lake Malawi is a popular birdwatching destination – eagles, cormorants, and kingfishers will dive for food right in front of you. It is also a great diving and snorkeling spot, and swimming in the lake at sunset with that special someone is about as romantic as it can get.
6. The Maasai Mara, Kenya
Photo by David Nunn
With horizons that seem to stretch out forever, the Maasai Mara is proud to present you some of the most beautiful sunsets on Earth. Rusty orange shades cover the plains and wildlife as the sun hides behind silhouettes of acacia trees and lone giraffes. The land’s diverse weather contributes to the show, making each twilight moment unique.
Photo by Bradjward
Lay back and enjoy the display from a hot air balloon with a glass of bubbly, flying above the savannah’s predators. Or have a sundowner on a hill overlooking the Mara’s far-stretching plains. What’s more, from mid-afternoon until sunset Africa’s spectacular wildlife will come out to relax in the cooler atmosphere.
5. Kruger National Park, South Africa
Photo by Iain Morrison
Not a few travelers have said that South Africa accommodates the world’s best sunsets. To the east of the country, Mpumalanga province literally means “the place where the sun rises.” Sunsets are equally spectacular. The province is home to the southern half of Kruger National Park. The country’s largest game park organizes sunset drives for visitors to watch the wildlife pass in front of the setting sun as the sky changes its colors.
Near Kruger Park, Mpumalanga province’s iconic Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, with its red rocks standing 2,625 ft (800 m) above the river bed, sure is a sight for sore eyes. Watch the sun embrace the geographically diverse land from one of the many viewpoints on the edge of the canyon.
4. Zanzibar, Tanzania
It’s no surprise Zanzibar made its way on our list! With its palm fringed beaches, white sands and turquoise waters, the archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is associated with cocktail sunsets and long romantic walks by the Indian Ocean.
In addition, Zanzibar has the best beaches in the world. It’s not a personal opinion, but a unanimous vote. It’s also one of the best sunset destinations on the planet. It is close to the Equator and therefore has a gentle, warm weather all year round and equal days and nights. The best seats for the show are on board a dhow (traditional Arabic sailing boats), a glass of wine in one hand, the other touching the calm surface of the ocean as the sun casts its golden and amber hues.
3. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Photo by Dolapo Falola
Tanzania is home to more than 10,000 lions. Considering Africa’s population counts 32,000 individuals, that’s a lot! A third of the country’s lions live in Serengeti National Park. No wonder it is a world-renowned hotspot for spotting the Big Five.
Serengeti is also the land that inspired Disney’s animation The Lion King. Actually, Simba means lion in Swahili. Remember those incredible sunsets in the animation, sparking our imagination as kids, continuing to fuel our wanderlust as adults? They’re even better in real life, and you can see them with your own two eyes. The bright orange horizon, casting silhouettes of giraffes and elephants, should be reason enough to get you to come here! Visitors often say you have not witnessed a sunset until you’ve seen one in Serengeti.
2. The Okavango Delta, Botswana
Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, is an oasis of abundant wildlife, open plains, pristine landscapes, winding waterways, lagoons and savannas.
There’s no better way to catch the spectacular setting sun over the delta than on a mokoro safari. These traditional wooden dug-out canoes will take you down the narrow and shallow canals, passing by lily pads, hippos and crocodiles, as well as many other animals that come to the river to drink. Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the Chobe River are great birdwatching destinations, and there’s a good chance you might take some photographs of African vultures sitting carelessly on top of tree silhouettes.
1. The Namib Desert, Namibia
Dune 45, Namib Desert - Photo by David Nunn
The Namib-Naukluft National Park includes a considerable part of the Namib Desert and the isolated Naukluft mountain range on Namibia’s southwestern coast. Within the park, the dramatic sand dunes surrounding the Sossusvlei salt and clay pan are even more astounding at first light and against the last sunrays of the day. Dune 45, rising 560 ft (170 m) tall, is the most popular spot to catch the sunset in the Namib Desert.
The neighboring Deadvlei white clay pan, literally meaning dead marsh, is surrounded by some of the world’s highest sand dunes – the highest is 1,066 ft (325 m) tall and is nicknamed Big Daddy. On the background of these lemon and apricot-colored dunes stand hundreds of dead, sun-scorched acacia trees, creating a real-life surrealist painting. Landscape photographers simply can’t resist the temptation, and will not hesitate to take the strenuous journey through the desert to capture the amazing show at dawn and dusk.
As cliché as it may sound, there are certain moments in life that leave you breathless. Among them are sunsets. And they are by no means an ending. As soon as the sun sets, the continent opens its curtains for its next great spectacle – the star-filled African sky.
Ready to feast your eyes on Africa’s most stunning sunsets? Go to BookAllSafaris.com and choose one or more of the African safaris listed above and let these realms work their magic on you too!