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Zimanga Ultimate Hides

Tusk Photo is proud to join with Zimanga Game Reserve, pioneers in the photographic safari industry of Southern Africa, for this Zimanga Flash Workshop. The safari features the first dedicated private photographic game reserve on the African continent. At Zimanga your entire safari revolves around photography, and capturing the best images possible of birds and wildlife alike from all angles. Whether you are a bird or wildlife photography fanatic this safari is for you.

The reserve has a huge diversity of wildlife including more than 80 species of mammals, some of these are Cheetah, Leopard, Lion, Elephant, White & Black Rhino, Buffalo and a host of plains game.

The bird hides attract a good variety of the 400 bird species in the area, including some specials such as Twinspots, Lemon breasted Canaries, Rudd’s Apalis and the Green Malkoha. Other regulars include Green Wood Doves, Golden Breasted Buntings, Arrow Marked Babblers, Fire Finches, Wax Bills, Starlings, Kingfishers and many more.

The mostly shallow waters of the Lagoon hide draw in a variety of waterbirds, from tiny plovers and sandpipers, to large birds like herons, storks and fish eagles. In the summer months crocodiles are regular visitors, with large specimens basking on the shoreline and smaller crocs actively catching fish at night. Some wildlife visitors to the bird hides include Squirrels, Monkeys, Warthogs and even a few Leopards.

The Reserve: Situated in Northern Natal South Africa, Zimanga is currently a 7 000ha private game reserve with plans of extending to 10 000ha in the near future. The highlight of Zimanga are the 8 specially designed hides. These comprise of 6 bird hides and 2 large mammal hides, and were designed and built under the guidance of world renowned hide specialist and photographer Bence Mate.

Two of the bird hides are built in a bird bath reflection hide style, here the focus is a small pool of very shallow water built at eye level, with the edge of the pool ending at the brim of a natural branch at the birds feet, this creates an exact mirror like reflection in the dead calm water of the pool. From the hides you can expect to capture many different images from perfect reflections, birds bathing and fighting to detailed portraits and birds in flight images. All with lovely clean unintrusive backgrounds.

Then we have the Lagoon hide, this was the first step in diversifying viewing and photographic opportunities on the reserve. This is by far the largest hide on Zimanga and seats 5 photographers, with photographic opportunities any time of day, whether you prefer shooting with the sun, or into it. The remaining 2 bird hides are seasonal and are the Vulture and Bee eater Hides, both of which produce amazing photographic opportunities

Lastly and most certainly not least are the 2 Overnight mammal hides. An entirely new hide concept for Zimanga, in which up to 4 photographers can be accommodated and sleep over in the air-conditioned hide, built into a waterhole with the large window opening up a few centimeters above water level.  Animals that visit the waterhole drink only a few meters from your bed.  The drinking edge is 4m from the photographers’ chairs, and to date a large variety of mammal and bird species have visited the water-source, producing viewing a photography that blows your mind

The unit consists of a custom-built metal hide with chairs and camping-style bunk beds, built adjacent to a small and well-equipped kitchenette to store and warm up food or make a steaming cup of coffee to keep you awake during the long hours of night.  Toilet facilities are available in the hide.  The modus operandi would be to enter the hide in the afternoon and photograph through the backlit afternoon session, and after sunset make use of the LED floodlights installed at water level to beautifully illuminate subjects that approach the water’s edge.  The hide’s main lights are installed on either side, and the high CRI rating of the lights ensures true-to-life colour and illumination of your subject.  The following morning the sun rises behind the hide, bathing the drinking edge in golden light, adding a third dimension of lighting to an Umgodi hide session, and offering guests a variety of images to take home, all incorporating Zimanga’s trademark low angles, carefully selected backgrounds and quality natural lighting. Like the first hides, each seat is equipped with a top-quality tripod and gimbal head.

Accommodations: Zimanga Main Lodge is brand new, set to open in March 2018. The lodge offers stunning accommodations right in the middle of the reserve rather than staying outside the reserve previously. The floor plan includes spacious lounge areas inside the main building, on the decks as well as an elevated view of the Mkhombe valley from the roof lounge.  Other facilities include a boardroom, library and quiet lounge attached to the south-eastern wing for those seeking to escape the crowd.  The term crowd is loosely used here as the lodge will only sleep a maximum of 14 guests, hosted in six free standing two-bedded units with two additional single rooms, offering privacy within a splendid KwaZulu Natal lowveld setting

Safari Highlights:

  • Several magnificent ultra luxury hides with air-con, leather seats and more
  • All hides are built at eye-level for maximum photographic results
  • Huge diversity of animals and birds including big 5
  • Photography from hides / open game viewers and on foot
  • Tusk Photo & Zimanga have booked out the entire reserve for our exclusive use
  • Breathtaking animal night photography from the 2 overnight hides
  • 2 nights in the overnight hides

The Safari Includes

  • 3 nights at Zimanga Main Lodge
  • All Meals
  • Exclusive use of the entire reserve
  • Refreshments during activities
  • Services of a Tusk pro photographers and Zimanga Guides

The Safari Excludes

  • Visas if necessary
  • All transportation to and from Zimanga
  • All drinks at Zimanga Mail Lodge
  • Any additional activities
  • Any items of a personal nature (Phone calls, curio purchases, etc)

Day 1

Arrive at Zimanga Main Lodge around 12:30 pm. After settling in we will start the afternoon with our first activity. Game Drives / Hide Sessions.

Day 2 - 3

Twice daily photography activities. This could be a mix of hide session and game drives. Overnight hide sessions will be allocated once we have all the info and options open to us.

Day 4

After our early morning photography sessions we will return back to the lodge for a brunch. Check out will be straight after and we depart on our way - End Of Tour

Dates & Prices

Departure Date Return Date Tour Cost SADC Rate Availability Location

Eldene Mason from South Africa wrote

Just to let you know that we had an amazing time at Zimanga with Brendan. Rick never felt intimidated asking questions or looking for advice.  It would have been a bonus if we could have had him in more hides and not just the overnight hide but realise we had to share him with the other clients.   It was a lifelong dream and wish come true for Rick and definitely an unforgettable experience.   All were very helpful though when it came to photographing  and the staff at the lodge friendly and attentive.   We hope to join you on other safaris and eyeing Elephant Plains.  

Fred Litschka from Gauteng, South Africa wrote:

...the trip was lovely; got the shots I wanted so I’m happy.

Emmie van der Linde from Gauteng, South Africa wrote:

I am more than well thank you!  I had such a nice trip once again, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Barbara Hartman from the USA wrote:

I just wanted to thank you both for making my trip to Zimanga possible and most of all unique, very special and unforgettable. It truly was a superb trip and I look forward to traveling with you again. Again, thanks a million for all you did

Lynn Bowers from USA wrote:

I am delayed in thanking you for all the arrangements you made for us at Mpeti/Zimanga.  The accommodations at Mpeti, people, food are wonderful.  Zimanga hides were a real treat.  Thank you again for all your hard work.  It was much appreciated.