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Top sunrise viewing spots in South Africa
Photos of spectacular sunsets are so often featured on social media and on tourism websites. In fact they outnumber sunrise photos by a ratio of 20:1, or even more. There’s a good reason for this unequal share of sunrises – while most people (adults anyway) are out and awake for sunsets, very few of us are out of bed pre-dawn, and at least partially conscious, to witness the beauty of the dawn breaking.
And if we are awake and fully functional, it’s because we’re probably exercising, or are farmers out in the fields focused on tasks. Too few of us are just standing or sitting, watching the magic unfold as the night is slowly rolled back by the sunrise and a promise of a new day.
There’s something extra special about watching the star-studded pitch black night sky on the horizon gradually changing to a deep blue, then a little lighter, with jewel-like blues and mauves and pinks forming before the tones become warmer and lighter, moving to glowing yellows and oranges as the sun begins to peer over the horizon. Crisp – even icy – air very gradually warms a little. Depending on the season and area, grass, trees and even spider webs could be sparkling with frost or beads of dew, while the ‘dawn chorus’ of birds adds a lovely audio track to the visual delights. And if the sky is peppered with clouds, the morning sky can become a fiery spectacle as impressive as any sunset.
While sunrises can be lovely anywhere, Springbok Online Casino has chosen a few special places that will guarantee extra special sunrise experiences. Generally, the best sunrises can be witnessed where there are geographic or man-made landscape features that will enhance the viewing enjoyment. Mountains, hills or koppies that provide interesting silhouettes on the horizon are great; monoliths, cliffs or canyons that the sunrise colours can warm or light up make for enhanced visual splendor; lakes and other bodies of water that reflect the sunrise colours can also leave you ooh-ing and aah-ing.
So let’s take a little trip all round South Africa and see what special sunrises await if you’re prepared to haul yourself out of bed before the world at large is still snoring.
Kruger National Park aka “the bush”
Taking a dawn game drive in Kruger, or in any one of South Africa’s many nature reserves is probably one of the most South African things you can do, and tourists love it too. There’s something magical about witnessing the birth of a new day in the bush, with the birds, insects and animals just beginning to wake up, while the secretive nocturnal creatures are returning to their hiding places, away from our prying eyes. The air is fresh and cool, the oftentimes searing heat of the day is still a long way off. Somehow the greens of the foliage seem greener, the dry grass is spun gold and you’re feeling glad to be alive, and glad that you got out of bed early.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
This gem in the eastern Free State is set on the foothills of the Maluti mountains near the charming, arty town of Clarens and bordering on Lesotho. The park is notable for its impressive sandstone cliffs and outcrops, deeply eroded and layered in tones of ochre, gold and orange. The most famous of these is the massive monolith known as the Brandwag rock. Already colourfully spectacular at any time of the day, the cliffs literally glow when viewed during the sunrise – or sunset. Get there for the sunrise but stay to explore the other interesting features.
Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town
Viewing the sunrise from along this vast stretch of beach in False Bay is one of Cape Town’s best vantage points for seeing the sunrise in all its glory. On one side you have the mountainous southern Peninsula snaking down to Cape Point, while across the vast bay to the east the coast is ringed by the Hottentots Holland range. Right next to Muizenberg beach is a stretch of coast called Sunrise Beach, so you can guess that this is the premium place to enjoy Cape Town sunrises. Long stretches of white sand and shallow water with lovely wave patterns reflecting the sunrise colours make for glorious and differing sunrises all year round. Probably the most photographed sunrises around Cape Town, although with its famous mountains, sea and so many scenic spots, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Cape Town.
This semi-desert region which stretches across both the Western and into the Eastern Cape, provides a stunning backdrop to witness the sun rising. Whether on the flat, arid plains or encircled by rugged mountains, the clear night skies unpolluted by big city lights is alive with stars (and shooting stars!) and the Milky Way is probably the clearest you’ll ever see it. The bracing cold night is broken by the pristine dawn revealing the beauty of this special, sparsely populated region. Even a humble ‘windpomp’ (windmill to pump water) silhouetted against a dramatic sunrise is a romantic and photogenic sight.
Hole in the Wall, Wild Coast
The rugged Transkei Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape is another beautiful part of South Africa. Pristine beaches, sometimes populated by a wondering herd of Nguni cattle is a popular destination for campers, backpackers and other adventurous travellers. While there are many parts of the Wild Coast that are pretty spectacular, the Hole in the Wall – a massive outcrop of rock reaching into the sea with a large arched gap worn through by eons of wave action, is probably one of the prime spots to see the sun rise.
Blyde River Canyon
Viewed at any time of the day or in any season, the iconic Blyde River Canyon Mpumalanga province is an incredible sight to behold. This wonder of nature is one the world’s largest canyons, plunging 900m down into a ravine covered in lush forest. God's Window is a small part of a 250km long formation of sheer cliffs and is so called for the panoramic views of the Lowveld, over 700 meters below. Now imagine watching this sight unfold from the darkness of night as the sun rises to reveal this truly jaw-dropping scene.
Sunrise in the City
You don’t always have to travel to far-flung places to enjoy a beautiful sunrise. For example, as Durban is situated on SA’s east coast, the sun rises above the Indian Ocean. The yacht club with its rows of yachts with bare masts and rigging makes for a very picturesque sunrise as does viewing the panoramic Marina from a tall beachfront building. Even the Johannesburg city skyline silhouetted against a glowing amber sunrise can be a breathtaking scene.
These are just a few of the countless scenic sunrises you can experience in every corner of our beautiful country. We hope you have been inspired to resist constantly hitting the snooze button on your alarm. Get up! Get dressed! Get out! And be the first to experience the dawn of a new day. Even if it’s from your back yard.