Step this way for the best wildlife views
Step into a hide and you enter another world of wildlife viewing. These fabulous observation posts whether fixed, floating, up high or down low, offer an enthralling and peaceful way to spend a few hours. Some are even set up for overnight stays to catch the wildlife at dawn and dusk. Unaware of your presence the animals come and go – often passing incredibly close to your perch – offering the best wildlife views you can imagine.
Here’s where you can find some of the best:
One of a number of hide options at Mashatu, in Botswana’s Tuli area, is a ground level hide offering a unique perspective on wildlife visiting the waterhole. There is the occasional sighting of big cats coming to quench their thirst with regular visits from giraffe, plains game visit and elephants who have been known to spray water towards the hide – whether that’s deliberate or just coincidental, only they will know!
To watch a stand off between buffalo and lion is exciting at any time – to be able to witness the goings on, close-up, at eye level is another league altogether. This great shot was captured at the ‘last waterhole’ hide close to Mwamba Camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley. As the Zambian bush dries out from June through to October the animals are forced to water and ambushes like this will happen more regularly.
At Jaci’s Lodges, in the Madikwe Reserve in South Africa, you’re not just at the water’s edge in their ‘terrapin hide’ but in the middle of the waterhole. Access is via an underground/underwater tunnel and, for those with a photographic bent, the hide is set up with custom Gimpro arms with panoramic heads.
And there are the legendary logpile hides at Savuti Camp in Botswana; Somalisa, Little Makalolo and The Hide in Zimbabwe; where one can come face to face with huge herds of elephants and other beasts with only a pile of thick logs separating photographers and animals. Not for the faint-hearted, but an experience of a lifetime!
Elephant lovers will also enjoy getting close to the big tuskers that roam the plains near Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya’s beautiful Chuylu Hills. This comfy hide is a great spot to while away an afternoon with a beer or two.
Birders will love the floating hide at Kaingo Camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa valley where you can capture incredible shots of the colourful carmine bee eaters as they flit about the river bank. The carmines’ migration varies each year and they can arrive any time from the start to end of August, so the hide is put in place for September and October. It may be on a boat or a sandbank depending on the best viewing spot (the banks of the Luangwa River shift annually according to the flood, so nesting sites also change).
Children will enjoy hides just as much as adults. Among several great options are the hides at Luangwa Safari House and Morukuru River House. Both lovely private safari houses in wonderful locations, with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained – but an hour or two at the hide is a great way to pass an afternoon.
Among the more unusual hides are the tree top platforms in Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia where you can witness the extraordinary sight of over 10 million fruit bats descending into a tiny patch of evergreen swamp. This extraordinary migration takes place from late October to mid-December and is the largest mammal migration on earth.
Then there are some camps which offer the opportunity to sleep out at a hide. Kaingo Camp’s elephant hide is set high in the branches of a tree on the riverbank and is a wonderful vantage point from which to spot the local wildlife, and elephants in particular.
We would be delighted to help plan your perfect safari holiday, perhaps including some of these camps with their wonderful wildlife hides. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean and can offer expert advice. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.