Beautiful sunsets are easy to come by in South Africa. The light fades slowly through the afternoon, giving us plenty of time to prepare. The clouds are usually spectacular (except during the highveld winter, when clouds are scarce). Best of all, we tend to be awake already when the sun sets.
Sunrises are much trickier. We must wake up well before the light to catch the sunrise, and if we’re a few minutes late, forget about it — within minutes the sun is hot and blinding. During summer, when the clouds are best, the sun rises at a ridiculously early hour.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set my alarm to catch the sunrise, lingered in bed a little too long, then given up because I know I’ve missed it. Not to mention the number of times that I’ve gotten up on time, struggled my way outside (or worse, driven somewhere) and found that the fog is too thick, or that the sunrise is blocked by a mountain or building, and by the time the sun becomes visible it is way too bright.
Last Friday morning, at the Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge, I hit the sunrise jackpot.
Shiluvari is in central Limpopo, about 10 minutes from the small town of Elim and 30 minutes from Louis Trichard. I stayed there en route to Venda from Magoebaskloof, after spending the whole day following the Ribola Art Route. (My post on the Ribola Art Route is coming soon.) I was exhausted by the time I arrived at Shiluvari, but fortunately this is one of the best places in South Africa to relax. I wish I could have stayed longer.
I didn’t have time to go on the boat, either, but it was beautiful to look at. (Aside: Limpopo, along with the rest of South Africa, is experiencing a terrible drought. Temeng, the owner/manager of Shiluvari, told me the water level in the dam is drastically lower than it was at this time last year. Just another reminder that water is precious, especially now.)
I loved my stay at Shiluvari. The lodge feels authentic in a way that most South African lodges don’t. It’s calm and peaceful, quieter than anywhere else I’ve been for a while. I had lovely chats with Temeng Tlakula and her father Max, who own and manage Shiluvari, along with others. The owners obviously put a lot of thought into the way the lodge is presented and run, balancing the colonial architecture (Shiluvari was built on the grounds of a colonial-era farm) with traditional African decor. The food is delicious and the coffee comes from Bean There, my favorite African coffee company.
A sculpture portraying the traditional Venda Domba dance.
But now, back to that sunrise.
September is a perfect time for sunrise-chasing. The sun isn’t coming up super early yet and the temperature is tolerable. I set my alarm for 5:45, threw on a sweatshirt and sneakers with my pyjama pants, and strolled down to the edge of the water.
There was no one else watching except the birds, who sang their birdie hearts out as the sun crested the treeline across the dam.
This was the prettiest sunrise I’ve ever seen. But I get the feeling they happen like this a lot at Shiluvari. This spot has perfect sunrise conditions.
Thanks so much to Lisa from Kurisa Moya and Open Africa for pointing me in the direction of Shiluvari. And thanks to Temeng and Max for the warm welcome. Sorry I couldn’t stay longer but I can’t wait to come back.
My stay at Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.