Sunrises and sunsets are bookmarks between darkness and light and a great opportunity to change gear with some coffee at dawn and perhaps a sundowner to start the evening. But sunrise and sunset each only happen once day, so where do you go for the best ones? Sue Petrie, British Airways’ Commercial Manager for Southern Africa, suggests the following spots:
Sunrise at Bailey’s Pool in Kalk Bay, Cape Town: the pool is on the eastern edge of False Bay and invites a morning dip in all but the coldest months. A number of locals swim every morning, no matter the weather, but if you prefer your sunrises a little more sedate you can stroll to the nearby eateries for coffee. Try the Olympia Café for fine caffeine, along with traditional Greek fare like kourabiedes (shortbread) or bougatsa, (cream-filled phyllo pastries), or one of the restaurant’s famous omelettes.
Sunrise on Durban’s beachfront promenade: before South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Durban’s beachfront had a makeover and there’s now a popular brick-paved promenade that stretches nearly 6km from Addington Beach, north to Blue Lagoon. One any morning you’ll be you’ll be accompanied by locals strolling, jogging or cycling. You can also rent a bicycle or a surfboard, or take a Segway tour.
Sunrise at Port Elizabeth’s lighthouse: Cape Recife is a rocky promontory that extends into the Indian Ocean, where it’s known as Thunderbolt Reef and which in years gone by claimed many ships and the lives of hundreds of seafarers. There’s less maritime drama in the area these days and the lighthouse is in a nature reserve that has prolific birdlife and offers exploration on foot as well as diving and fishing.
Sunset on the Zambezi River: massive herds of elephants regularly drink and bath at sunset along the stretch of the mighty Zambezi above the Victoria Falls. Emulating the tuskers by sipping sundowners as you drift past on a comfortable barge is an essential tick-box on the bucket-list of anyone travelling in Southern Africa. You’re also likely to see dozens of hippo in the water and birds returning to their roosts as amber and purple hues in the sky herald the onset of evening.
Sunset over Joburg: autumn and winter offer some spectacular sunsets over the City of Gold and there’s no shortage of venues to savour the moment. A few examples: the San Deck on top of the Tsogo Sun in Sandton has fire-pits for warmth as the nights get chilly, while The Living Room in the Maboneng Precinct has live music on Sunday afternoons and evenings. After more than 40 years, the Carlton Centre is still Africa’s tallest building, and the view still astounds after four decades.
Sunset on Lake Kariba: This massive waterbody on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia has more than 1000km of shoreline and its many houseboats and chalets are a good way to see it and the wildlife it supports. Sipping a gin and tonic while listening to the unmistakeable call of the African Fish Eagle and watching tree-trunks silhouetted as water and sky turn the colour of beaten gold? Simply unforgettable.