I have always wanted a camera. From a very young age I have conjured up the photographs I would have liked to take by framing them with my fingers. My eldest brother had a Brownie Box Camera and developed the black and white photographs (we didn’t think of them being monochrome then) himself. What magic it was to see the pictures emerging and then being hung up to dry!

My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic. It was compact enough to fit into my rucksack when we hiked in the Natal Drakensberg and it was robust enough to survive a number of falls. During the 1970s we mostly used slide film – what an expensive business. One could reduce the cost by mounting one’s own slides if one could cut straight and had sufficient patience.

I recall wonderful evenings at university when members of the Mountain Club would gather in a lecture theatre to share their slides of the various outings we had been on. It was great fun seeing these on a large screen. Some years later, we would hold family slideshows, which were also fun for everyone.

I was sans a camera for years until I received a Konica SLR as a gift. By then slides were no longer an option and so, with a growing young family, taking colour prints made sense. I have filled albums with the antics of our children. This was also an expensive undertaking, however, as one paid for the duds too (oh, so many of them!).

Along came the wonder of digital photography. The magic of this made my fingers itch to record so many aspects of nature. My children had grown up and were leading their own lives away from home when I became the proud owner of a Sony DSLR. Still stuck in the mode of having to pay for developing and so on, my first forays into digital photography were very conservative: I would take perhaps twenty photographs on an outing – now I take hundreds!

One afternoon I was sitting on a bench at the Berg-en-Dal rest camp in the Kruger National Park when a bearded man stalked past me without making eye contact. I was still cradling my camera in my lap on his return along the path. This time he paused to ask me to identify a particular bird call. “It’s a Black-headed Oriole” I replied with a smile for I had been watching it flit from tree to tree. He took this as a cue to tell me about his camera, a Pentax with the same range as my Sony. He told me he had taken some lovely photographs of birds.

“They must be good,” he informed me because his brother-in-law “who is a ‘real birder’ often admires them.” He gave me a rundown of the specs of his camera and told me proudly that it ‘only cost’ what he regarded as a reasonable sum. “It is probably more versatile than the long lenses I see poking out of windows everywhere”, he assured me.

On that note, I must relate my experience with long lenses. If you want to see a collection of enormous lenses in the wild, visit the bird hide at Lake Panic near Skukuza – also in the Kruger National Park. On one of the earliest times I entered there I almost felt like hiding away the camera I was so proud of: it was minute in comparison with the canon balanced on the ledge by the camouflage-kitted photographer sitting next to me.

I sat quietly for some time, observing the birds and the terrapins, while listening to the whirrs and clicks all around me. My camera was way outclassed! Nonetheless, it was inevitable that I would also want to photograph the Grey Herons feeding their chicks. Then the terrapins sunning themselves on a rock drew my attention. A Giant Kingfisher perched on a branch well above my head … I extended my telephoto lens and clicked self-consciously. At some stage I murmured something self-deprecating to my canon-wielding neighbour. He turned to me with a twinkle in his eye.

“I am focused on the herons and that is all I can photograph at the moment. I cannot move this lens in a flash to catch the kingfisher as you have just done.” He explained that he had moved ‘up the ranks’ of cameras and lenses until he had reached a point of specialisation. “I have thousands of photographs,” he smiled. “Now that I can afford a lens like this I want ‘special’ photographs – something out of the ordinary; something ‘different’.”

In due course I became dissatisfied with the quality of the bird photographs I was taking. My Sony retired when I did and I now have a Canon 200D with a Tamron lens. It is still a ‘smallish’ camera that has a little better ‘reach’ and provides me with enormous pleasure – as does the camera on my cell phone!



There is always a sense of anticipation whenever we enter a national park: what animal will we see first? On this day trip to the Addo Elephant National Park, zebras won hands down: they were everywhere!

Some ignored vehicles in order to continue grazing right next to the road.

This one was literally pulling up daisy-like plants.

It has been a good season for babies.

The herds of zebra were always accompanied by flocks of Cattle Egrets, eager to catch insects in their wake.

These two were standing apart from the rest.


Every time we visit one of our national parks I am reminded of how fortunate we are to enjoy seeing a wide variety of wildlife. The poaching of white rhino is an ongoing concern in South Africa – even in our protected areas – and so I always feel privileged to see one of these creatures in the wild.

We are used to seeing black wildebeest in the Mountain Zebra National Park and so it is fun to see blue wildebeest in places such as the Kruger National Park (where all of these photographs were taken).

Cape buffalo occur in the Addo Elephant National Park too, but this one is covered with Red-billed Oxpeckers.

Of course it is always a pleasure to see elegant giraffe.

Impala have been brought into several private game reserves all over the country.

No trip to the Kruger National Park feels complete unless one comes across a lion or two.


A few readers enjoyed the glimpse of zebras in my post on the landscape of the Eastern Cape, so I thought of providing a few more pictures of them for your enjoyment. These photographs were all taken in the Addo Elephant National Park. The first shows a zebra in a field of gazanias. It is wonderful to see how this park transforms into a floral wonderland once the first spring rains have fallen.

While we often see herds of these beautiful creatures in the open grasslands, occasionally one or two walk purposefully next to the road. What a joy it is to see them from so close.

This one has a particularly intricate pattern on its back.

While this one shows recent battle wounds. Males attack each other quite fiercely to gain or maintain breeding rights.

During the winter, even dry grass contains some nourishment.

Lastly, a photograph to demonstrate how useful zebras find their tails to ward off flies and other biting insects.


On this road trip we will stop along the Highlands road to look across the valley towards the Pumba Private Game Reserve.

Look at all that beautiful space covered with natural vegetation.

We stop further along the same road for a closer view of some of the indigenous forests which are, sadly, interspersed with pine trees and wattle.

Travelling south, towards the sea, it is always a pleasure to spend time driving through the Addo Elephant National Park. The natural vegetation was cleared many years ago for farms and has still not recovered, even though these farm lands have long since been incorporated into the park.

Should we decide to travel northwards, we might pass rocky outcrops such as these near Riebeeck East.

We might decide to stay over at the Mountain Zebra National Park so that we can enjoy the open vista of grassland interspersed with acacia trees.

As the day draws to a close we can appreciate the beauty of these mountains near Tarkastad.

Of course it would take more than a day to cover all of this ground, but it gives you an idea of the kind of scenery I call home.