Safaris & stories
Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Shenton Safaris

How lucky were we? Not only were we on holiday in the Kruger Park, but we were going to spend a night in the Sable Dam bird hide. Yup, you got it – no cottage or campsite for us, we were actually going to sleep in a bird hide.

It was something I had read about and booked as soon as I could. The week leading up to our trip, however, I had done a little too much reading up about it, and as we approached I was full of trepidation. There had been horrible stories of people waking up with rats scurrying over them, giant spiders in the toilets, and worst, as far as I was concerned, a reassurance from a local that the rats had all been eaten by the resident snake!

We arrived about half an hour before sunset. As the hide emptied of people, we took a good look around. Much to my relief it was spotlessly clean and we made up our beds quickly and settled down to enjoy our adventure.

Two young elephant bulls ambled down to the water for an evening drink, a black backed jackal scurried about his business. As the full moon rose, peace descended on us. We felt like we were the only people in the park – no rowdy neighbours to bother us, not a light in sight.

We didn’t have any momentous sightings that night – in fact, other than a couple of scrub hares, there was very little activity around the dam – but it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in the bush. A night of wonderment at the simple beauty of nature, and of realizing how small we are in the scale of things.

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Gillian Hazell

Gillian Hazell was born and raised in Johannesburg, but now lives in Cape Town with her husband and two children. She works part-time as a physiotherapist, and has a passion for nature and the ocean. With her family she spends at least some part of every week interacting with nature, whether it’s exploring rock pools, spending time in the sea, working in her organic veggie garden, or walking one of the many easy trails around Cape Town. She wishes her children to grow up loving the incredible African continent and realising how fortunate they are to be able to experience wildlife in it’s natural habitat.