Top 10 Safari Sundowners
The sundowner experience — watching the sun dip below the horizon with a cocktail in hand — is a classic safari tradition. It originated during Africa’s colonial period, when the British turned to liquors like gin and whiskey not only to wind down the day, but also in the hope of warding off regional and general health hazards like mosquito-borne malaria or scurvy.
Much has changed since then, but today, the ritual endures, and it’s little wonder why. Many first-time travelers experience Africa while on safari, and a day filled with not one but two game drives or bush walks to spot the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhino) can be surprisingly exhausting.
When you finally get back to camp, red African dust coats everything down to the lenses of your binoculars, only a few lukewarm droplets are left rolling around in your water bottle, and your feet throb in your now too-tight hiking boots. Most importantly, the adrenaline that’s been pumping through your body finally quiets down now that that lion is no longer standing a few feet away.
It’s a relief to slip off your backpack (which you could swear feels heavier than it did when you set out that morning), clasp your warm fingers around an ice-cold cocktail, and settle into a leather-and-wood chair to watch the spectacular African sun shimmy its way below the horizon. Your flirtation with the dangers and delights of the natural world will commence tomorrow, but for now, your thoughts can wander, blissfully and aimlessly, with a safari sundowner.
To come up with a list of the best thirst-slaking tipples, The Daily Meal spoke with the folks at Micato Safaris, a family-run tour operator; Singita Game Reserves, a collection of nine über-luxe lodges in South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe; and travel experts to discover the top 10 safari sundowners. Some of these concoctions have been savored since the days of Out of Africa while others are newly invented, but all are refreshing after a day on safari.