A sundowner is a refreshing drink that is enjoyed as the sun sets over the African bush – essentially a safari-inspired happy hour! This is the perfect chance to relax and watch the wildlife roam in the distance. Many people reflect on their day and share stories with their travel companions. This ritual, though popular on safari expeditions today, actually has roots from the colonial era.


The sundowner tradition originated during British colonialism in Africa, and it was born out of necessity rather than enjoyment. At the beginning of the 18th century in South America, quinine was discovered to be effective against malaria. Quinine was then distilled into medical tonic water and mixed with gin, sugar, and lime to make it more enjoyable to drink. British soldiers consumed this drink throughout the warm regions of South America to ward off the disease. As the British Empire expanded into Africa, so did the popularity of gin and tonic. Like in South America, the drink was consumed for malaria prevention. However, people began to drink it during social situations, thus giving rise to the sundowner ritual. Today, the sundowner is still a popular tradition on an African safari, though it is now solely for enjoyment rather than medicinal purposes.


After a full day of exploring on safari, your safari guide will scout out a quiet and secluded location to have your sundowner. The more remote, the better! Being isolated from other crowds lets you fully enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Tourists can choose from an assortment of beverages and light snacks, such as nuts or dried fruit. Gin and tonic is the classic sundowner choice, but others opt for local beers or wines. A sundowner setup can range from a table and chairs to a simple blanket. Some prefer to lounge on pillows as they gaze at the colorful sky while others prefer to simply stand. With wonderful friends, a cold drink, and a breathtaking sunset, what more could you ask for?