In Namibia, clear skies and delicious warm evenings have inspired an important tradition – and celebration of life – sundowners!
As part of their 20th anniversary celebrations, the Gondwana Collection held a ‘101 Sunset Competition’, inviting the public to share their sensational sundowner moments. The competition kicked off at the Namibia Tourism Expo in May and continued until the end of August when it wrapped up with 875 entries. It took another month to carefully evaluate the photos, selecting the finest. In October, the winners were announced and the prize of 101 nights at Gondwana’s lodges was shared between the five winners of the various categories, who each won 20 nights, with the overall winner bagging the additional day to make up the total of 101.
Images of clinking glasses, striking landscapes and land and water aflame with the deepest and richest colours on Earth came streaming in. They encapsulated the wonderful African tradition: sundowners i.e. spending the late afternoon somewhere out in nature with a drink in hand, appreciating the landscape bathed in gold at this enchanting time of the day. It’s the time to stop whatever you are doing and enjoy the transition between day and night, when softness and beauty merge the two in a spectacular display, one of the best shows on the planet.
The bustle of the day and the excitement of travel or wildlife viewing pauses for a while as drinks are sipped and snacks are nibbled. Then, as the sun begins to dip in the sky, there’s a hush as the ruby orb slowly and regally sinks into the horizon. A wash of pastel colours splash dramatically across the heavens in its wake,lit up from below,before the first stars begin to shimmer and the blanket of night is eventually drawn over the land.
The world stills as the diurnal birds turn in and the nocturnal life begins to stir, adding its voice to the indigo night. Occasionally, jackal calls ring out through the air. The power, magic and mystery of creation is palpable.
As part of Gondwana’s 20th birthday bash – and the sunset theme, Gondwana (in partnership with Namibian kwaito singer EES and Namibian Breweries) released a ‘Sundowner’song celebrating just that, the time of day to close laptops and workplace doors, hang up tools, pack a coolbox and head out to a rooftop vantage point, a dam, or if fortunate enough, the great Namibian wilderness, the canyon or countryside.
The video clip showcases the vast and majestic scenery of the Fish River Canyon and the sweeping landscapes at this golden hour, accompanied by EES’s lively beat. Towards the end of the clip, while sitting at the edge of the dam as the sun sets into the African bush, EES turns to his friend and makes the apt observation: “The thing is,” he says, as the music quietens in the background,“I think people nowadays don’t realise how important a sundowner actually is; how to chill and relax and to just let the day quietly settle.”
So, here’s a reminder. While in Namibia, remember to take time out for the best time of day. Take a walk or a drive, or simply sit on your veranda or balcony. Or, if you are at one of the Gondwana lodges, join the sunset celebrations to appreciate the Namib Desert, Fish River Canyon, Zambezi waterways or Kalahari dunes when Mother Nature puts on her best performance on Earth just for you.
- The crest of the 20-million-year-old fossilised dunes at Namib Desert Lodge with a superlative view of the desert landscape
- A sunset deck built on the hill overlooking the mopane savannah and Brandberg in the distance at Damara Mopane Lodge
- The edge of the Fish River Canyon that drops down to ancient chasms – Canyon Roadhouse, Village and Lodge
- The boat on the Kwando River after a game drive into the Bwabwata National Park at Namushasha River Lodge
- Watching the Namib wild horses at the Garub viewpoint while visiting Klein Aus Vista
- The Hakusembe River Queen on the Okavango River at Hakusembe River Lodge
- The end of the jetty as the waves crash around you (the Delight hotel,Swakopmund)
- The top of the granite koppie (hill) at Canyon Lodge overlooking the Gondwana Canyon Park
- The wooden deck at Etosha Safari Lodge, with a view of the mopane woodland
- The red sand dunes of the Kalahari (Kalahari Anib and the Farmhouse)
Ron Swilling is a freelance writer, based in Cape Town, writing for Namibian and South African publications. She is a regular contributor to Gondwana’s History and Stamps&Stories columns and documented the information on the Wild Horses in the Namib Desert for Mannfred Goldbeck and Telané Greyling. She invites you to ‘Follow her footsteps’ on her journey from the Orange River, exploring the Gondwana routes through the intriguing country of Namibia.