“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” – Vincent Van Gogh
The starry night without doubt transfixed the painter who once uttered the words above, and it captivates us no less. But even more enthralling, we think, is that time before the sun goes down. The truly alive, truly colourful time called dusk.
On the open Zambezi, dusk presents itself each night in the most beautiful of sunsets. Sunsets we never tire from photographing in their unique nightly manifestations.
It is during this cooler time of day that you can sometimes glimpse the odd herd of elephant down at the riverbank, engaged in a spot of skinny-dipping. They might have hoped that the dim light would shield them from us, but our camera lenses pulled it off and captured the nightswimmers in action from the sturdiness of our sunset cruise boat.
Before the sky completely turned from purple to black and left us with nothing but the moon to guide us home, we snapped these images below – they’re not the oil on canvas medium Van Gogh preferred and grainier than we’d like, but they are enduring illustrations of the antics of this quiet hour nonetheless.
Elephants are excellent swimmers and unlike humans and primates, it comes naturally to them. Their bulky bodies give them that beneficial buoyancy and while they use all four of their legs to paddle, their trunks help them to breathe while swimming, especially over long distances.
Elephants have a reputation for being particularly fond of swimming – a passion this gent above no doubt shared as he splashed about in the shallow waters for several minutes while the rest of the herd drank or ambled about in the bushes of the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi River.