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Winter is safari season at Abelana

Abelana Game Lodge Pool deck on Selati River near Kruger National Park

The sound of Africa is calling. It’s safari season!

In South Africa’s Limpopo Province, the best safari season is the dry winter and spring months of June through to October. At Abelana Game Reserve, the dry winter months offer prime game-viewing opportunities as animals are coaxed out of hiding in search of water. Thirsty and less lethargic, they are easier to spot in sparser vegetation as they are drawn to waterholes and the Selati River that runs past the front of our lodge. 

Here are our top reasons to safari at Abelana Game Reserve in winter.

Winter in Limpopo is easy

At the northern tip of the country, we are spoiled with clear and sunny skies most of the year. But it can get very hot in summer, with temperatures soaring over 35ºC. Winter on the other hand is more temperate, with an average of 22.5ºC and we’re graced with warm, dry afternoons which are perfect for outdoor adventures.

Longer safari drives on the back of a game vehicle are more tolerable than in the blazing hot summer sun, and walking trails are equally more doable when it is cooler. There is no better way to explore the diverse and breathtakingly beautiful topography at Abelana than by foot. Led by our trails guide, you can see the dramatic granite koppies and outcrops of the south as well as the wonderful riparian forests along the Selati River in the north. 

You’ll learn all about Abelana’s fascinating eco-system, its geology and the flora and fauna that inhabit our 15 000-hectare reserve while breathing-in crisp morning air with the touch of the warm winter sun on your face.

The Selati River brims with life

Hippo Swimming in Selati River in front of Abelana Game Lodge near Kruger National Park

From the gently undulating riparian forests of the northern section of the reserve, especially along the Selati River, to the dramatic rocky outcrops and towering koppies of the south, our vast and varied landscapes cover a range of different biomes. 

There is permanent water along the Selati’s course through Abelana Game Reserve thanks to the positioning of wiers. This creates a perennial home for hippos and crocodiles and provides unrivaled game and bird spotting opportunities. 

Abundant figs, nyala trees, tambotis, jackalberry and knobthorns along the banks of the Selati River offer ample food and shelter for a wide array of animal species. Local baboon troops roost at night and can be seen foraging along the banks during the day. Their smaller cousins – the vervet monkeys – can be seen searching for roots and fallen fruits in the leaf litter that covers the forest floor.

Big cats come out

You are more likely to spot big cats in the winter months. Leopard sightings at Abelena Game Reserve have increased since the onset of cooler weather at the end of May. Our reserve is home to a healthy leopard population and our guests regularly see these exquisite cats in action, especially after dark. The area around the Abelana River Lodge is the territory of a huge male who hunts in the riparian forests on the edge of the Selati River. 

Our reserve has a small population of lions, including three cubs of about seven months old. 

Despite their size, lions are not that easy to spot as they are well camouflaged in long, dry grass. Nocturnal, lions are most often spotted on night drives. During the day, you are more likely to see big cats sleeping or lazing while they digest the previous night’s prey. They also love soaking up the sun on the rocky outcrops between Abelana River Lodge and Abelana Safari Camp.

Hearty food and winter comforts

Firepit at Abelana Game Lodge. A luxury setting for the perfect winter evening.

Our menu is constantly evolving, and sustainability and seasonality are always prioritised during menu changes. Inspired by winter, our culinary team surprises and delights our guests with the ultimate in comfort foods to warm the soul after a day on safari. Winter dishes such as Beef Wellington with silky cauliflower puree, and Slow Braised Lamb Shank with roasted pomme puree courgettes, glazed carrots and red wine jus are soul-warming at the fireside of our cosy lodge. Paired with red wine and culminating with a winter-inspired dessert, it’s a refined end to a day out in the wild.

Dining at our fireside in winter is a comforting feast for the senses as you watch life on the Selati River unfold outside. You could spot giraffes, elephants, leopards, lions, monkeys, impalas, and wildebeests across the river while you enjoy your meal inside. 

To find out more about winter experiences at Abelana River Lodge, contact us.