It’s odd spending Christmas in the African bush, especially if you’re used to colder climes at this festive time of the year! Here in South Africa the Christmas period coincides with our summer holidays and summer is indeed in full swing, with soaring temperatures and the onset of our annual rains making this the season not just to be jolly but of real plenty, as the bush turns lush and green, rivers flow and dams and waterholes fill to capacity.
There’s so much more to celebrate than just Yuletide cheer, with our animals giving birth and the bush filled with babies of all shapes and sizes, from tiny warthog piglets to impala lambs and zebra foals. Many of the birds are also nesting and the trees are alive with the sounds of displaying male masked weavers hanging upside down beneath their carefully woven nests, trying to entice females to take a look and hopefully choose their efforts as a family home in which to lay eggs and bring up chicks.
We may not have Santa Claus in his trademark red and white, but there is a lot of colour on display here at Abelana nonetheless – from the fabulous iridescent purple of the violet-backed starling and the bright plumage of the white-fronted bee-eaters to the dazzling colours of the lilac-breasted roller and fabulous blues of the woodland kingfisher, whose distinctive call echoes throughout the reserve.
Saddle-billed storks with their bright red and yellow bills are also frequently seen patrolling the shallows around our dams and along the Selati River and beautiful little sunbirds add flashes of colour around the acacias with their bright yellow blossoms attracting these gorgeous little nectar lovers.
At Abelana Safari Camp Chef Lector is busy planning a festive feast for our guests, while out in the bush Mother Nature is providing a smorgasbord of fruits, flowers, blossoms, grasses and fresh green leaves for our resident wildlife. Even the baobabs have flowered, with their huge, white blooms opening at night to attract the hawk moths that visit to feed on their nectar, pollenating as they go. And the mopane bushes have transformed from collections of dry, leafless twigs to dense thickets of vibrant green foliage, waiting for the caterpillars of the emperor moths to feed on them – we know them as mopane worms and they are a staple food of animals and humans alike and a wonder to behold!
So, while Christmas in the bush may not be what you’re used to, it’s still a magical and truly spectacular time of the year! Whether you are joining us over the Christmas holidays, are planning a visit sometime during 2020 or supporting us from afar, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful festive season. We look forward to welcoming you to our small slice of paradise very soon!