The Iconic Sundowner. What is it?

Sunset is a great time to unwind while watching the wildlife in the distance. This is the time many people take to reflect on their safari day. This tradition, which is an essential part of most safaris, has its origins in the colonial era.

A sundowner is β€˜happy hour’ in the African bush, at sunset. Your game drive will be spiced up with a Sundowner to round off your afternoon game-drive experience.

History of the Sundowner

Winston Churchill asserted, β€œβ€¦The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.”  And it’s true: the gin and tonic was in many ways the origin of the time-honoured African tradition of β€œthe Sundowner.”

The sundowner tradition began in Africa during British colonialism. It grew out of necessity rather than pleasure. Quinine was discovered to be beneficial against malaria in South America around the beginning of the 18th century. Quinine was then distilled into medical tonic water, which was then blended with gin, sugar, and lime to make it more drinkable. To stave off the sickness, British soldiers drank this drink in the warm parts of South America. The popularity of gin and tonic grew in tandem with the British Empire’s expansion into Africa. The drink was taken for malaria prevention, much as it was in South America. People began to drink it in social contexts, resulting in the creation of the sundowner ritual. On an African safari nowadays, the sundowner is still a popular practice. However, it is now mostly for pleasure rather than medical purposes.

What can you expect on an African sunset?

Typically, a variety of drinks and snacks are served against the breathtaking backdrop of an African sunset. Many camps have their own unique and exclusive African sundowner place to see this magical occasion. Guests are encouraged to simply sit back, relax, and soak in the ambience while listening to and watching the savanna’s wildlife during a sundowner. The majority of sundowner sites also provide fantastic photo opportunity.

Typically just before the sun sets, your safari guide will look for an area with a view for your sundowner. The standard sundowner is gin and tonic, although others like local beers or wines. A sundowner set-up might be as simple as a table and chairs or as elaborate as a blanket. Some people prefer to relax on pillows while gazing at the vibrant sky, while others prefer to simply stand. What more could you want than a refreshing drink, and a stunning sunset?