22 Images from the awesome Zimanga Wildlife Hides

A backlit portrait of a yawning lion photographed during the NaturesLens Zimanga Wildlife Hides and Safaris photography tour

In September 2019, I led our second trip of the year to make use of the main reserve & Zimanga wildlife hides in South Africa. Our photography tour is a combination of hide photography & traditional game drives, with the main attraction being the overnight hides & the opportunities that may present itself.

The Big Five can be photographed here but on this particular occasion, the leopard eluded us. More on that story later!
Our first game drive set the tone for the remainder of the trip – we walked with a pair of cheetah brothers. This is a truly breathtaking experience – there are no words to describe what a privilege it was to be in the company of these stunning, graceful predators.
The following morning saw our first hide session in the Scavenger Hide. The set-up is meticulous, the hide has been positioned to give photographers a clean background. As you look out of the hide, there are two perches, one to the left & one to the right. Both have been positioned for the 300mm lens – you don’t need long lenses here at Zimanga.
The Scavenger Hide is popular with canids & birds of prey like vultures & tawny eagles. And, it would seem, hornbills too!
We encountered the first of the Big Five during our afternoon game drive – the elephant. We were mindful that we had strayed into their territory but they seemed to be perfectly relaxed & not the least bothered by our presence.
The following morning saw us in one of the birdbath hides. If you love birds, this is the hide for you! We had visits from blue waxbills, oxpecker, cape glossy starling & even a brown hooded kingfisher, to name but a few of the species. Quelea, yellow fronted canary, Jamieson’s fire finch, coucal, & Black-capped bulbul were also frequent visitors.
Our first overnight hide session was in Tamboti. We had many visits from another of the Big Five – the Cape Buffalo. They may not be as glamorous or as highly sought after like the lions or even the leopard, but they make for a pretty stunning subject.
Activity at the Lagoon Hide was quieter than normal, so we used this opportunity for some photography tuition, assisted by a very obliging black crake, green-backed heron & even a crocodile!
Our next overnight session was in Umgodi. We didn’t have to wait long before the first visitors arrived – the nyala. Later on in the evening, we would be visited by the third member of the Big Five – the Rhinoceros. As you can see, their horns have been removed to protect these gentle herbivores from poachers.
It has to be said that photographing from the overnight hides is very addictive! It can also be very tiring but the rewards are worth it. These state of the art hides are equipped with wifi, flushing toilet, beds, kitchenette furnished with a microwave & fridge to ensure that your time in the hide is as comfortable as possible.
The modus operandi for using the overnight hides is to arrive around 3.30 pm so that you have the opportunity to photograph from the afternoon to sunset, through the night, to sunrise. We were fortunate to have warthog & rhinos visit by day & it was a real treat to be able to observe their behaviour up close & personal.
Everyone in the group had opted for an extra activity in the form of a backlit session with the lions. Judging from the photos I have seen, I think I can safely say that it was a huge success.
Our trip to the Zimanga wildlife hides was coming to an end but we had not yet managed to photograph the elusive leopard. When we were offered the opportunity to have another go in Tamboti, we jumped at the chance! As the saying goes, “you have to be in it, to win it.”
We didn’t get the leopard. Instead, we were treated to visits from hyena, nyala bull, hare & a serval cat! On our way back to the lodge for breakfast, we came across the sub-adult lions. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

PHOTOGRAPH THE AWESOME ZIMANGA WILDLIFE FOR YOURSELF

To photograph the awesome wildlife of Zimanga for yourself, join Pui Hang, in South Africa for the 1st – 8th May 2020 for a 7-night photography trip. With photography opportunities in traditional open jeeps & specially designed hides at water level, including an overnight hide, this tour will give you unrivalled exposure to the wildlife.

The photography holiday is offered on a full board, shared basis. Group size for this photography holiday is a minimum of 6 participants & a maximum of 6, plus Pui Hang
All the details of the Zimanga Wildlife Hides & Safaris Photography Holiday are available on the dedicated event page & it’s priced at the rather super price of £2999 at the moment.

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