THE BEARDED HERON ‘COFFEE SHOP’

Other vehicles role passed us in the Kruger Park – everyone inside them intent on finding out why we’ve stopped! The questions are extraordinary: “Are you looking at anything interesting? What are you watching? Have you seen anything?”


I hold up my coffee mug: “Good morning,” I respond, “We’re having coffee!” “Oh well – enjoy then.” They look disappointed as they move on, once again searching the African savanna for anything ‘interesting’!


My coffee shop returns to normal – my guests and I watching the morning, we’re listening to the sounds of Eden as the white-fronted bee-eaters start waking next to us, light changes the mood, a red sun peeps up from the eastern horizon, and in the distance a lioness roars in social greeting. A hippo signals its return to water, a sharp snort from somewhere out there and a few alert calls from not so nearby kudus all play a tune to the new day.


My coffee shop has opened for business!

“That lioness is getting closer and probably closer to some of the other members of her pride,” I suggest, let’s wait and see if she becomes visible to us.” I have chosen my ‘coffee spot’ well; we are positioned over a wide sandy river bed with little surface water – only the odd pool where elephants have dug out the underground stream.


The mood in the vehicle changes, everyone looking into the bush, everyone listening for the sounds that will bring us some news. An hour has passed, and then an exclamation: “There! Look it’s a rhino he’s coming to the water!”


Good. I can guide through the approaching rhino. A square-lipped rhino bull on territorial management duty. Before I even open my mouth someone in the back of my coffee shop shouts: “There they are!” as two lionesses come bounding out of the bush in playful greeting. We watch the moment for a while, the lionesses and the rhino disappear back into the bush and the Kudus nervously make their way towards the river. The sun is beginning to warm up the bush now and a whole new day has begun.


We’re about to continue our game drive now, a vehicle rolls up next to us, the driver asks: “Have you seen anything interesting?” “Just stopped for coffee, there are some kudus at the water and a few bee-eaters catching breakfast,” I respond.


I turn to my guests and suggest: “There’s a nice little cocktail bar I know of for this afternoon’s drive! We’ll watch the sun set in the west a little later – over some water, and enjoy the moment the bush closes the day and gets ready for the night!”

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