When someone mentions the word “safari,” everyone immediately thinks about going on an adventure through a reserve or park, either on foot or in a vehicle, and discovering its various features. However, a different way to view wildlife, regardless of whether or not you are an avid photographer, is to simply sit in a hide close to a source of water and watch whatever wildlife comes down to drink. This can be done regardless of whether or not you are a photographer.
There is nothing better than spending your time on safari relaxing while staying hidden from the animals and viewing passers-by from a unique angle. This is one of the best ways to enjoy your time on safari. It is very convenient for guests of a camp to have access to a hide because it provides them with an entirely new vantage point from which they can observe and photograph wildlife. In addition to that, it enables them to experiment with different settings on their cameras and improve their photography skills to take better pictures.
When you’re not participating in the scheduled activities during your safari, you’ll have plenty of free time to relax and take in your surroundings. If you’re looking for something more engaging to do during your downtime, look no further than your immediate environment. The following is information necessary for you to know about the hide safari.
What is a Hide?
It’s a small structure in the middle of a natural area where people can “hide” themselves to get better views of the local wildlife, views that would be nearly impossible to get if they were out in the open.
Safari hides are particularly well-liked among photographers who are searching for the ideal vantage point from which to photograph African wildlife. Some private reserves in Africa construct permanent wildlife hides near areas that see a lot of animal activity to ensure that visitors have the opportunity to see animals up close.
1. The Hide Safari Camp, Zimbabwe
The camp’s tradition revolves heavily around the use of the hide, which gives the place its name. The original hide is designed to look like a termite mound, and it is situated so that it overlooks a waterhole. This allows you to watch wildlife without the local herbivores or carnivores being aware of your presence. It is necessary for you to go to this hide with your guide, and the distance between you and the wildlife may vary depending on how high the water levels are. A second hide, this one underground, gives guests the option to head off independently from camp to enjoy the attraction. The location of this hide, which is right on the edge of the waterhole, allows you to get extremely close to the various large and small animals that frequent the waterhole daily.
2. Ol Donyo, Kenya
Although it is more of a log pile than a hide, this is nonetheless one of the best places to watch the famous big tuskers that frequent a waterhole. This hide, which can be found right below the Ol Donyo lodge, is a favorite among all visitors, and it is the location from which some of the most famous photographs of big tusker elephants originated. Many of the most well-known tuskers stop by the waterhole on their way between Amboseli and Tsavo national parks because it is located on a natural migration route between the two parks. You can either choose to sit down here outside during activity time, or you can swap out your game drive for a relaxing afternoon in camp, where you can enjoy watching whatever comes down to the hide. One more possibility is to consume one’s meal while observing the locals and tourists who frequent the waterhole.
3. Shenton Safaris’ Hides, Zambia
Shenton Safaris is the first company worth mentioning because it is known for having some of the very best hides in all of Africa, each of which provides a slightly different vantage point or angle. It is important to note that while Shenton’s has several hides that cater to a variety of interests, some hides are camp-specific, and others are only available during certain times of the year. For instance, only guests staying at Kaingo Camp are permitted to use the Hippo Hide. This hide is situated on a secluded corner of the confluence of the Mwamba and Luangwa rivers, which is a popular gathering spot for hippos regardless of the time of year. The action at the Hippo Hide picks up as the dry season progresses, and a ‘lower-level’ hide has been set up specifically to provide you with an eye-level vantage point during this time.
In addition, there is the Elephant Hide, which is reserved solely for guests of Kaingo Camp. A raised platform that looks like a treehouse provides views of the Luangwa River from this location. It is recommended that guests visit the platform either after brunch or around teatime as it looks out over a historical elephant crossing point. Those who are looking for a more exciting way to spend the night under the African sky can make use of this hide by converting it into a star bed at night.
A third hide, which is only accessible to guests staying at Mwamba Camp, can be found just meters away from the main building of the camp and looks out directly over a lively waterhole. This hide is at its absolute best toward the end of August when water is scarce, even though it is frequented by birds and other wildlife throughout the season. It is not unusual for guests to opt out of going on game drives as the season progresses to spend more time at the waterhole at Mwamba Camp observing all of the activity that is taking place there.
The Carmine Bee-eater Hide and the Wild Dog Lagoon Hide are Shenton’s mobile hides, which are the last thing to mention but certainly not the least. Both camps provide access to these two different hiding places. Once the southern carmine bee-eaters have successfully set up their nesting sites along the banks of the South Luangwa, the Bee-eater Hide will be constructed in its proper location. The arrival of these migratory birds typically begins in August; however, because their arrival can be somewhat erratic, the presence of the hide is only guaranteed during the months of September and October. Access to the hide can also change from year to year; therefore, you should always be ready to ford a relatively shallow section of the Luangwa River to get there!
The Wild Dog Lagoon Hide can be found on the outskirts of the lagoon, which is known to be an excellent location for spotting wild dogs. However, even though it is a well-known hangout for dogs, it is far more well-known for the incredible plains game and bird viewing that can be found there. This is an excellent resource for those of us who are interested in birding photography, also known as “twitching,” as well as anyone else who wants to improve their skills in this field, regardless of whether the focus is on the definition of birds or birds in flight.
4. Andersson’s at Ongava, Namibia
Because the photographic hide at Andersson’s is connected to the main area of the camp by a walkway, guests are free to move freely between the main area of the camp and the hide at any time during their stay. This hide overlooks a fruitful waterhole that is frequented by plains game, but it also offers a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with lions and rhinos! The hide, which is situated at the water level, provides guests with some one-of-a-kind photographic opportunities. Additionally, the hide is fantastic for tourists who simply like to sit and watch from a different vantage point.
5. Jaci’s Lodges, South Africa
Now for something truly one-of-a-kind: a photographic hide known as the Terrapin Photographic Hide, which is situated right in the middle of a waterhole! This hide is easily accessible from both Jaci’s Tree Lodge and Jaci’s Safari Lodge, which are both within walking distance of one another. For those who are interested in photography, its position facing west ensures that there will be diffused light in the morning and silhouettes that will be backlit in the late afternoon. Since it is submerged, it provides viewing from the level of the water. All guests have unrestricted access to the hide at any time of day or night, and it is outfitted with spotlights, an interior radio, and red LED lights throughout.
6. King’s Pool, Botswana
The hide at King’s Pool is a shelter that has been dug into the ground and is situated on the edge of a waterhole. It can be reached from camp in about ten minutes. The guests can get a close-up view of the animals as they come to the watering hole. The hide is a popular place for elephants, in particular, to nap during the dry season, which begins in late July and lasts until the end of the year. The best time to visit is during this time.
7. Makumu Game Lodge, Greater Kruger Park, South Africa
The photographic bunker at Makumu Game Lodge is situated at ground level next to the waterhole, providing guests with breathtaking views of the various animals and birds that come to the waterhole to drink. The Klaserie Private Game Reserve, which includes Makumu, is a component of the ecosphere that comprises the Greater Kruger Park. The photographic bunker is located twenty minutes away from base camp, and it features comfortable seating as well as a variety of beverages.
8. Mashatu Game Lodge, Northern Tuli Safari Area, Botswana
The incredible wildlife, webcam, and photographic hides at Mashatu have already earned the location a great deal of notoriety. The primary hide is a ground-level hide that is elephant-proof and situated at a waterhole. From this hide, both amateur and professional photographers can take photographs of animals and elephants from ground level. They have a seasonal hide on the reserve as well as a seasonal hide that is located on the reserve and faces a white-fronted bee-eater colony. A skilled photographer is a residents at Mashatu, and they will accompany guests to the hide if they choose to go there. During your time there, Mashatu will also let you rent equipment from them.
Tips to Enjoy Hides Safaris
1. Shoot throughout the day
It should come as no surprise that the dawn and dusk hours are the best times to photograph wildlife. It is well worth getting up early every day. However, you should also consider shooting after dark. Just make sure you have a tripod handy when you want to take photos with a long exposure (think starry night skies in the deserts of Namibia).
2. Remember family and friends
Be sure to get some pictures of the people you’re traveling with, especially if they’re important to you. There is also no need to force everyone to move around awkwardly and strike poses as a group. Some of the most memorable photographs you bring back with you might be candid shots of your children, spouse, or friends taking in the sights of the natural world and being awestruck by its splendor.
3. Practice cultural sensitivity
When going on a safari, learning about the local people and their cultures is just as important as seeing the animals that live there. Take special care to observe and respect the traditions, social mores, and personal tastes of the people you meet, particularly about taking photographs of them. Some communities may welcome your camera, while others will find the candid photos you take to be offensive. When in doubt, inquire with your guide as to what is acceptable. They will assist you in avoiding any uncomfortable situations that may arise.
Make sure you get some experience with your gear before you get there, especially if you’re going to be purchasing a new camera and/or additional accessories. When you’re trying to get that perfect shot, the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling around with equipment you’re not familiar with.
Hides are specific locations that allow you to make yourself invisible to animals so that you can watch them without disturbing them. You will be able to observe them engaging in natural behaviors this way rather than frightening them, which is more appropriate. Because of this, participating in a hide safari is not only an amazing experience for photographers but also for other types of tourists.