Zimanga Private Game Reserve at a Glance
- 5 hides (max 4 persons)
- Game dives
- Big 5 reserve
Spread over more than 6 000ha of bushveld, fever tree forests and rolling hills, Zimanga is bisected by the Mkuze River and is home to a variety of animals and birds. From leopards to wild dogs and elephants to cheetah, nearly every sought-after sighting is accounted for. For the birding enthusiast, there are over 400 bird species recorded at the reserve.
Game drives at Zimanga Private Game Reserve are in an open safari vehicle with three rows of seats behind the driver. As a rule the game drives on Zimanga limit the number of clients to only two people per row. This allows for more room for kit as well as the ability to "shoot" from both sides of the vehicle without anybody sitting directly next to you.
This is ideal for photographers and non-photographers alike who enjoy a bit more space and freedom of movement.
As a reserve Zimanga encourages clients to spend as much time as they like at any particular sighting. Due to the very low number of vehicles on the property at any one time you will never have to abandon a sighting to make room for another vehicle. The guides are all experienced as well as accomplished photographers in their own right so they will be able to position the vehicle in the best light as well as anticipating any action that is about to occur.
Should a subject be inaccessible from one of the tracks then Zimanga vehicles are permitted to go off-road to get you into that perfect shooting position.
Whilst the game drives at Zimanga are top-notch, the truly memorable experience at Zimanga is their five hides that are currently in use.
There are currently five photographic hides at Zimanga, including two “bird bath” hides called the Mkhombe and Bhejane Hides which are ideal for small bird photography. The larger Lagoon Hide focuses on waterbirds, with Umgodi Overnight Hide the only hide that is custom designed for large mammal photography. The bee-eater hide is a mobile unit that can be placed in close proximity to where white-fronted bee-eaters nest and produces good results of these colourful birds. The last hide (at this stage) is the Vulture Hide which, when there is carrion available, attracts a number of, wait for it… vultures, hyena, jackal and the like. These hides have been designed and built by Charl Senekal, the owner of Zimanga and Bence Mate who is not only a former winner of the coveted BBC wildlife photographer of the year award but is a world authority in hide design, construction and photography. Each of the hides is designed for its potential subject whether it is a large mammal like a giraffe or elephant or the smallest of birds like waxbills and twinspots. The photographers are invisible to their subjects behind one-way glass so as not to startle the subject with any movements or sounds. The hides allow photographers a non-intrusive method of wildlife photography and although the subjects are free-roaming, and hence no sighting is guaranteed, the hides tip the balance heavily in favour of the photographer to get that photo that they always wanted – a “keeper” as they say.
Zimanga has a diverse range of wildlife including four of the Big Five and also including cheetah and wild dogs. The reserve has plenty to offer in terms of unbelievable sightings, from the smallest shrew to the largest of all African mammals, the elephant and over 400-plus recorded bird species.
So, who should visit Zimanga?
Well, for starters, serious nature/wildlife photograpohers of course. One just has to have a look at some of the photos from this reserve to see the quality of the images produced by advanced wildlife photographers.
Just ordinary photographers as well. The ease with which one is able to photograph from the five hides means that any person with a camera has the opportunity to get close to small birds, something that is very difficult under normal circumstances.
Birders, well, yes, of course - there are just so many different birds that visit in a fairly short period that one cannot but tick that elusive twin-spot!
Nature enthusiasts. In other words, those people who have a deeper appreciation for "the bush", and who crave an unhurried and exclusive experience - whether in the hides or on a game drive. That is, people who don’t mind watching a particular animal for the sheer joy of it.