If you’ve been to the Kruger National Park but never sat for a couple of hours at Sunset Dam a few minutes' drive from Lower Sabie, you are obviously neither a birder nor a photographer.
All this draws casual observers who stay only a few minutes. It also draws die-hard photographers who are there for the long haul. They know this is a photographer’s dream destination, the birds and animals relaxed and very close, the morning sun just right.
It was a peaceful scene, timeless, as Africa is. Until a white Toyota sedan pulled up next to us and a family of Dutch tourists rolled down their windows to exclaim loudly at everything they saw.
They laughed and pointed, shouting to each other in their excitement, oblivious of the hard stares from others trying to enjoy the quiet of the natural scene. Hippos were hilarious, crocs were menacing, and we had to experience – at volume – every emotion and new discovery with them.
Once they’d exhausted the possibilities for howling and shrieking, they drove away and peace descended once more. Birders raised their binos again and photographers their cameras.
A flock of yellow-billed storks dominated the far shore, some just standing there, some roosting companionably in a dead tree. Others foraged in the water for food. Using their feet to stir up prey, they swept their slightly open bills from side to side to catch any fish or frogs dumb enough to move.
Food was also on the minds of three green pigeons feasting on berries on a nearby bush, hamerkops flying low across the water and dipping in to catch small fish, even a pied kingfisher that took its catch back to a dead tree to shake and bash it against a branch until it was aligned right for slipping effortlessly down the throat. Spoonbill, jacana, white-crowned lapwings, the Sunset Dam breakfast Wimpy was open to all.
Every keen photographer has a favourite spot in Kruger, what’s yours?
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