Tell me about hides

January 15th 2021  |   Botswana, Photography Safaris, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe  |  by   Richard Smith
Hides - Kings Pool ground level hide with elephant, Botswana

All safaris offer the chance for great photographs. Good guides will get you closer to wildlife than you might imagine and your biggest problem is likely to be sorting through the hundreds of photos you’ve taken.   One of the very best ways to get close-up shots – or just to observe at close quarters – is to spend some time in a photographic hide.  Not just the preserve of professional photographers and film makers, these hides offer everyone the opportunity to enjoy Africa’s wildlife without it even knowing you are there.

Here’s what you are likely to find:

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. You can safely photograph elephants while at the same level as their huge feet.

Elephants and photographer at the C4 Images hide at Mashatu waterhole

Elephants and photographer at the C4 Images hide at Mashatu waterhole, Tuli, Botswana

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.

Terrapin hide at Jacis Lodges waterhole

Terrapin hide at Jacis Lodges waterhole, Madikwe, South Africa

Some of the more interesting and productive photographic hides can be found at Chitabe, DumaTau and Kings Pool camps in Botswana. And there are the legendary logpile hides at Savuti Camp in Botswana; Somalisa, Little Makalolo and The Hide in Zimbabwe; and Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya, 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!

Savuti log pile hide, Botswana, Wilderness Safaris

Savuti log pile hide, Botswana, Wilderness Safaris

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.

Carmine Bee Eater floating hide, Kaingo Camp, Zambia

Carmine bee eater floating hide, Kaingo Camp, Zambia, Shenton Safaris

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.

Hide at Luangwa River House, Zambia, Robin Pope Safaris

Hide at Luangwa Safari House, Zambia, Robin Pope Safaris

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.

Bats in Kasanka National Park, Zambia, Robin Pope Safaris

Bats in Kasanka National Park, Zambia, Robin Pope Safaris

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.  It’s a wonderful vantage point from which to spot the local wildlife, and elephants in particular.  Another elephant hotspot is Abu Camp in Botswana where you can spend the night on a platform above the elephant boma.  Perhaps not a hide in the strictest sense, but a fabulous opportunity to observe these giants of the animal kingdom at close quarters.

Elephant sleep out hide at Kaingo Camp, Zambia, Shenton Safaris

Elephant sleep out hide at Kaingo Camp, Zambia, Shenton Safaris

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions about hides. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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