There aren’t many more spectacular sights than the African sky at night with its millions of stars where the lack of light pollution only makes it even more enchanting. When leaving the frills of camp life behind, sleeping out under the stars allows you to really see what’s special and what’s going on around you. A night sleeping under these skies will be an experience not to forget and waking up to the dawn chorus at sunrise will make a wonderful addition to your safari.
Photographic hides are becoming an increasingly popular way to observe wildlife whilst on safari and more and more hides are appearing in reserves across Africa. Man-made hides are structures built with the purpose of concealing and protecting views from the animals and birds giving you the best opportunities for capturing a wildlife moment that you won’t get anywhere else. They can be built from the simplest den made of logs but some of the best are made from large steel containers buried underground. They are usually positioned alongside a feature which attracts wildlife, such as a waterhole or riverbank.
Here is our pick of the Top 5 hides in Africa
1. Carmine Bee-Eater Hide, Shenton Safaris Mwamba Bushcamp, South Luangwa, Zambia
The movable carmine bee-eater hide is put in place in September once the carmines have established their nesting areas. They build their nests in huge colonies into the river bank so the hide is built in the middle of the river in order to get the best viewing angle and distance. Shoes are shed and knees get wet as you wade through The Luangwa River to access the hide which is anchored onto a boat in front of the colony. The carmines are very used to the hide’s presence and carry on about their business as though it wasn’t there. This hide provides fantastic photo opportunities of this spectacular bird species and is a must for serious birders and novices alike.
2. Jozibanini Look up Hide, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Imvelo Safaris at Jozibanini Camp have created a cool and secure place to watch wildlife coming to drink at the waterhole. The hide was made by modifying a standard steel shipping container, including fitting it with a flush loo, and sinking it deep into the Hwange sands. Guests can also spend the evening in the hide watching the wildlife come down to drink with a backdrop of stars in a crystal sky, and if you’re really enjoying yourself why not stay the night! This is particularly spectacular during a full-moon when the bright light illuminates the nocturnal animals who come to visit.
3. The Bush House, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa.
Situated within the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, the underground hide is positioned on the edge of the lodge waterhole. The roof which is just above ground-level is strong enough to hold the weight of an elephant and the low angles created by the sunken hide provide some of the best photographic opportunities. You access the hide from a path within the gardens of the Bush House, or from the swimming pool, along a safe walkway and through a tunnel, without being seen by the animals. The pathways, tunnel and hide are all lit at night so are available for use by guests 24 hours a day. You can even enjoy your evening meal in there complete with candle light!
4. Mashatu Tented Camp, Botswana.
Mashatu Tented Camp is well known for its photographic opportunities both on game drives and from the custom built Matebole and Elephant Valley photographic hides. Both hides are located in areas where there are many animals and predators are also abundant. They are ground level offering a unique perspective on the wildlife and birdlife that come to visit the waterholes. The best time of year for viewing from the hides around Mashatu Tented Camp is June to November when the elephants generally visit the waterhole every day.
5. Little Makalolo Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Little Makalolo offers privacy for guests who enjoy small camps and a sense of remoteness. The area is ecologically diverse, ensuring great numbers of animals year-round. Photographically, in addition to being able to get out on foot and venture out on night drives, there is a log pile hide which is beautifully placed at the camp’s productive waterhole and provides the most exhilarating opportunity for viewing the animals which come to drink at the waterhole. The Elephants are often the star attraction at the hide but be careful not to get sprayed by water from their nearby trunks!
Get in touch with us for more information on the hides and lodges. All our holidays are tailor-made so we can help plan a trip that is unique and memorable for you.