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Everyone I know has a favourite spot. You know the place I’m talking about. It’s that spot where you just have to stop, because you always stop there. It’s the spot that, if you don’t stop there, you’ll feel like you’re missing out on something, even if, at times, nothing much happens there.

These are the spots that you claim as “your spot”, even if many others stop there. You know the place I’m referring to!

We have quite a few of those spots scattered around the world, but one of our favorites is Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park. It’s never boring. It never fails to entertain with an unusual sighting or some great photographs. Interestingly, it was recently the location for the video of the croc eating a warthog which goes a long way to substantiate what I’m saying about it being a good spot.

What makes Sunset Dam such a great place is the fact that you can park right at the water’s edge. The crocs and hippos that make the dam their home are within easy photographic range. A wide variety of birds also frequent the area as do a constant parade of animals coming down to drink. To top it off, every evening the resident troop of baboons puts on a show of family drama better than any TV soap. An event always guaranteed to entertain.

The first thing you notice about Sunset Dam is that the wildlife also have their favorite spots in and around the dam. The crocs have their spots and the hippos theirs. The impala like to drink at a certain spot, and the elephants at another. So it’s a spot with different interest spots within the spot. Know what I mean?

On our last trip we noticed that the top spot for the grey herons that make Sunset their home was the backs of certain hippos in the dam and it was interesting to observe this wonderful example of inter-species cohabitation. The backs of the bigger hippos cruising the dam were clearly the most prized territory for the herons. It was a territory fought over and defended vigorously. The hippos’ feet stir up the silt and nutrients, attracting fish and making it easy for the herons surfing on their backs to spear those inadvertently coming too close to the surface.

Sunset Dam Kruger National Park Sunset Dam Kruger National Park

The herons instinctively know that a cruising hippo is likely to be more productive than an immobile animal, fueling the competition between the birds for the best spots. Interestingly, the hippos seem quite content to host the herons, even allowing them to land and perch on their heads. For a photographer, it’s great action. As the sun sets, the angle of light from the edge of the dam nearest the road is perfect and it’s almost impossible not to get good photographs.

So, next time you are in the vicinity of Lower Sabie, make sure you stop at Sunset Dam. But whatever you do, don’t park in my spot!


Book your Kruger break through Getaway Accommodation here.

3 Responses to “My favourite spot: Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park”

  1. Peter Davies

    Wonderful pics John!

    For those readers who don’t know him, John is a wildlife photographer of note who has (among other accolades) appeared in National Geographic). He has a most interesting wildlfe blog as well – look up ‘Wild Eye View’ for some of the best wildlife photos you’ll ever see.

  2. Colin Redman

    Great photos supported by an entertaining and informative story. Thanks John.

  3. Peter Davies

    John Smith is a fabulous widlife photographer. It’s worth paying a visit to his blog “A Wild Eye View” at to see some really special pics.

    To give you an idea of just how good he is, John’s work has appeared in National geographic – a rare accolade.


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