The best safari photographic hides in Africa all have something in common. They’re normally built in high wildlife traffic areas and ideally positioned for photographers to capture never-seen-before angles of wildlife. Some hides are elegant structures kitted out with state-of-the-art equipment, while others are delightful bush hideaways. From immersive to underground and overground, there’s a hide waiting out there for all levels of shutterbugs.
“Sometimes, it’s not about the camera, it’s about your position and proximity to wildlife. It can be quite hard to get that money shot while out on a game drive, especially while you’re fiddling with shutter speeds and ISO settings. Getting that iconic and noteworthy picture requires patience. That’s why hides were invented! Hides are small little hideaways or bunkers expertly built and uniquely positioned. Click, click, click…and there you have a Nat Geo style photo!”
Here is our choice of the best safari photographic hides in Africa.
Best Safari Photographic Hides in Kruger
Indlovu River Lodge
Indlovu River Lodge’s Thapama hide truly is the Kruger’s best-kept secret. Located in a unique biome spanning 9000 hectares in the Karongwe Private Game Reserve, Indlovu holds great appeal for photographers.
This sunken hide is built at a thriving waterhole frequently visited by the Big 5. The hide provides a rare opportunity for avid photographers to practically go underground to get that iconic wildlife photo. Thapama isn’t just some makeshift rustic hide. Careful thought and planning have gone into the build of this fantasy photographic lair. The entire inside is carpeted to minimise noise, while 5 adjustable wheelable director’s chairs provide an uber sense of comfort. Photographers will delight in knowing there are gimbals on a support system, ideal for getting those hard-to-capture angles. A range of telephoto and wide angle lenses are required, and the hide will need to be booked in advance.
Jaci’s Lodge’s are located in the magical Madikwe Game Reserve in the North-West province. This Big 5 reserve encompasses 75 000 hectares of mountainous terrain, seasonal wetlands, perennial rivers, and typical savannah. a rich landscape supporting a wealth of creatures just waiting to be photographed from the one-of-a-kind Terrapin hide.
Talk about going below deck! Jaci’s quirky Terrapin hide is located INSIDE a waterhole. Just like its namesake, the hide hovers at eye level. Never quite fully submerged, but never quite terrestrial. The hide is within walking distance of Jaci’s Tree Lodge and Jaci’s Safari Lodge, but is only available for guests staying at Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Accessed via an underground tunnel with windows looking below the surface into the murky waters, really puts Jaci’s on the map as a premier safari destination.
The low ground level angles provide plenty of scope for creative photographs of giant beasts and marauding predators. Perfectly positioned to take advantage of both morning and evening light, the hide is accessible 24-hours a day. Professional and amateur photographers can expect a unique space fully equipped with LED interior lights, spotlights, and radio for safety.
Makumu Private Game Lodge
Makumu Private Game Lodge is situated on a hill overlooking the lesser-known Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, a reserve rich with wildlife and home to the Big 5.
Makumu Private Game Lodge offers an unprecedented opportunity for keen photographers to explore a photographic bunker that’s eye level with the shimmering waters of an active pan. If you want a luxury hide, iThumbela hide is your answer. A staircase leads into the bunker that’s kitted out with an extra lounge comfy couch, coffee and tea making facilities, bean bags for cameras, bar stools, and a cooler box filled with drinks. Hyena, lions, leopards, wading birds, vultures, and an array of small critters regularly visit the pan; ensuring there’s always something to photograph.
Best Safari Photographic Hide in Botswana
Mashatu Game Reserve
Mashatu Game Reserve offers a choice of hides to snag that perfect photograph. The reserve is situated in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in an area that serves as a wildlife corridor between South African and Zimbabwean national parks. This reserve offers an exclusive safari experience and is popular for horse riding safaris, cycling safaris, and walking safaris.
The reserve is proud of its uniquely positioned hides. A ground-level hide at a waterhole has been set up specifically for elephant photography. This particular waterhole is where guests regularly spot breeding herds of elephants. There is an array of semi-permanent hides that are moved to the various waterholes and seasonal riverbeds throughout the reserve. In addition, there are 2 bird hides available for passionate Twitchers. The infinity bird hide is perfect for spotting passerines and forest-dwelling birds. The bee-eater colony hide is ideal for spotting the flurry of migratory white-fronted bee-eaters – birders won’t be disappointed with this one!
Best Safari Photographic Hides in Zambia
Ideally located on the banks of the Luangwa River in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, Kaingo Camp is an original Zambian classic camp. 6 rustic chalets adorn the riverfront, providing abundant opportunities to observe game from the comfort of camp – in particular hippos and elephants.
The Hippo hide at Kaingo Camp is a favourite hang-out for visiting photographers. Strategically positioned in the confluence of the Luangwa and Mwamba rivers, the hide is neatly carved into the bank of the river, and even has camera props and ultra-comfy seating. This is the best place in Africa to spot hippos! Massive bloats of hippo descend upon the area during the peak safari season, and put on quite the show for their onlookers. Photographers can spot breeding pods, bachelor pods, and even tiny calves.
Mwamba is an exclusive bush camp conveniently located on the Mwamba River in south Luangwa, and offers guests a rare opportunity to stay in accommodation with skylights. This camp really is all about wilderness and wildlife experiences. South Luangwa is hailed as one of southern Africa’s top wildlife sanctuaries and is certainly no stranger to exceptional predator sightings.
The ever famous Last Waterhole Hide is a hide that’s built into the banks of a waterhole, and is situated within walking distance from Mwamba’s natural-looking thatch chalets. This means that guests are free to wander to the hide at their leisure. The waterhole hosts a “wildlife party” between 8 and 9 am; a very popular time for all sorts of species to visit the waterhole. August is prime time to visit the hide, as this is when the other waterholes have dried up.
Best Safari Photographic Hides in Kenya
Chyulu Hills National Park is a remote destination sandwiched between Tsavo West National Park and Amboseli National Park. Mount Kilimanjaro serves as the backdrop to this unusual terrain characterized by volcanic cones and craters. Common residents include buffalo, leopard, zebra, elephant, and a wealth of birdlife. The bold and contemporary ol Donyo sits bang in the middle of the breathtaking Chyulu Hills, and offers guests a timeless experience reminiscent of ancient explorers. Stone suites with private plunge pools that have views of flat landscapes carpeted with iconic acacia trees, a giraffe’s snack of choice.
Set just below this premier lodge is the hide. Affectionately known as the “logpile hide”, this little spot provides a front-row seat to some incredible wildlife spectacles. The hide is made from a pile of local wood and is situated right at the waterhole. This perch is ideal for sitting and observing an array of wildlife. The Logpile hide is the perfect place to photograph a plethora of species.