Zimanga Private Game Reserve is gaining a well deserved reputation for excellent wildlife and birding photographic opportunities. Situated in the northern reaches of KwaZulu Natal and within a ten-minute drive from the town of Mkuze, it is the first reserve in Africa to be specifically designed with photographers in mind.
Lying amongst the rolling hills of Zululand and with the Mkuze River meandering through it, Zimanga Game Reserve is spread over 6000 hectares. Brilliant, unrushed sightings of Leopard, Wild Dog, Cheetah and African Elephant are regular occurrences and the bird diversity is truly amazing with over 400 species having been recorded.
During a recent two day visit, I had the privilege of spending time joining Brendon Jennings and Charl Senekal on game drives where we followed a pack of Wild Dogs as they hunted, watched a leopardess caring for her two tiny cubs in their rocky lair and sitting with a female Cheetah as she surveyed her surroundings from a termite mound. It is however in my mind, the two bird hides that provides the best opportunities for photography. In just a two hour period of sitting in the “Mkhombe Hide”, I was privileged enough to be able to photograph over twenty species of birds that came down to drink and bathe.
The hides have been specially designed so that photographers are invisible to their subjects behind specially designed one-way glass. This allows for easy photography in a comfortable setting where the hides have been placed to maximize the best lighting angles with clean and un-cluttered backgrounds. To date, only the “Mkombe and Bhejane Birding Hides are open, but work is underway to develop the “Lagoon, Vulture and the Large Mammal Hides and these will be truly exciting and worth a visit. Below is a selection of images from my recent trip that might just whet the appetite for your own visit to Zimanga.
1 of 12: Portrait showing the stunningly beautiful Crested Guineafowl.
2 of 12: A Wild Dog pauses on a rise to view across the open plains of Zimanga.
3 of 12: A Spectacled Weaver revels in bathing.
4 of 12: A colorful Cape Glossy Starling stands reflected at one of the bird photographic hides.
5 of 12: A Vervet Monkey steals a quick drink from one of the waterholes at the photographic hides.
6 of 12: This Crested Barbet was one of three barbet species that came down to drink in a two hour period at one of the photographic bird hides.
7 of 12: A true icon of the Zululand bushveld, a Flat-Crowned Acacia stands in golden evening light.
8 of 12: A pair of Speckled Mousebirds drink during the late afternoon.
9 of 12: A male White-Bellied Sunbird pauses after sipping nectar from an aloe.
10 of 12: This Black-Headed Oriole was one of the unexpected visitors at the photographic bird hides.
11 of 12: Families of Banded Mongoose are amongst the small mammal species that come to drink from the photographic hides.
12 of 12: Water drips from the bill of an immature Red-Billed Oxpecker.