What is it about that early morning and late afternoon light on safari? Even Shakespeare was inclined to write “I speak of Africa and golden joys”. Safari companies always expound on that period of the day when stark sunlight softens and becomes ethereal, richer and more evocative. They call it golden hour.
African wilderness landscapes are a veritable feast for the eyes whether they be rolling, kopje studded savannahs or undulating dune fields in stark western deserts. The continent is a thing of rare beauty indeed. Add a little filtered late afternoon light however and something beautiful turns into something far more profound. It is this hour that inspires the poet within…that stimulates reflection on the day…on existence and the secrets of the universe. It is in this brief moment in the arc of a day that magic happens spontaneously…and mere photographs become works of art.
It is also this time of the day when Africa’s creatures glow as if lit from within. When common animals like Impala evolve before the beholder into something infinitely more…as if infused with an unreal red/bronze sheen. Even a cantankerous, mud caked old buffalo bull…short on temper and good looks…takes on a friendlier, more forgiving hue.
It is those much sought after spotted cats that really come into their own in the right light…that metamorphose into a breath-taking vision of magnificence. Cheetah particularly, as they move through open, swaying grassland, are pleasing to the eye. They glide…wraith-like…seemingly spun from actual gold as if made from the very sunlight they reflect.
Africa speaks in these moments to the observer…settles warm and resplendent within as it delights both senses and the spirit.
When on safari…be sure to slow down just after sunrise and just before sunset. Look around, breathe and watch carefully as the light changes and deepens and an ephemeral wonderland materialises as if by magic.