2020 Zimanga, The Wildlife Photographers Paradise

Hosted Jointly by Magnum Excursions and Road Runner Photography Tours

Location: Zimanga Private Reserve, Mkuze, KzaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Two Dates From Which To Choose:

  • May 8-15, 2020 (8 days, 7 nights)  – SOLD OUT
  • May 15-May22, 2020 (8 days, 7 nights) – 2 spaces remaining

Group Size: 12

Cost: $5,495.00 per person, double occupancy. $530 Single Supplement

Group Leaders: Buddy Eleazer,Don Schroder, Denise Silva

Safari Origination Point and Conclusion Point: This safari begins in Durban, South Africa and concludes in Durban, South Africa

This is the package for a serious wildlife photographic getaway.  It’s also the perfect destination if you want to get close to wildlife and observe activity in a non-obstructed perfect set of conditions.

Cape Buffalo – Zimanga Overnight Hide ©Buddy Eleazer

We have the entire reserve to our group! Guests will be able to use all of Zimanga’s world-class hides as well as going on off-road tracking game drives with the potential of building up a stunning and varied wildlife photographic portfolio.  The choices will be difficult.

Elephant in Silhoutte ©Buddy Eleazer

Some say nothing beats the exhileration of tracking African off-road and through riverbeds to see them in a natural setting. Others say nothing beats the excitement and anticipation of sitting in wait at a waterhole , knowing that anything can appear …. and now there are even more exciting options with the development of the Overnight Hide where anything can appear out of the darkness! Don’t worry, you will not have to make a choice as we plan to make all three options available to you throughout this safari.

Zimanga, in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal, is the first reserve in Africa designed for avid safari enthusiasts while simultaneously satisfying the needs of modern wildlife photographers of any level, both who prefer a deeper appreciation of the bush and crave an unhurried exclusive experience. It is the intention for Zimanga to become the region’s premier wildlife photographic destination and the owners are committed to the continual development of the reserve, striving to push the boundaries of a new wildlife experience unlike that found anywhere else on the continent.

Spotted Hyena ©Buddy Eleazer

Spread over 15,000 acres of pristine Zululand bushveld, fever tree forests and rolling hills, Zimanga is bisected by the Mkuze River and home to a splendid variety of animals and birds.  Species including lion, elephant, wild dog and cheetah roam freely across the region and can with luck be tracked down for unparalleled game viewing and photographic opportunities.  There are over 400 bird species recorded on the reserve and its surrounds

Zimanga has been developed by Charl and Mariska Senekal over the last decade. As an avid photographer, Charl has created a photo safari destination like no other.   Vehicle safaris, with no more than two clients per row, and several “state of the art” photographic hides built under the guidance and supervision of “The Invisible Wildlife Photographer” Bence Mate offer visitors never-seen-before opportunities of observing African wildlife.  These hides are unique in their design and execution in Africa. In conjunction with the fresh additions to traditional vehicle safaris already produced several award-winning photographs in the world’s top wildlife photography competitions.

© P. B. Eleazer

GAME DRIVES

Zimanga has a policy of a maximum of 2 people per row in the open game drive vehicles. This assures each person of plenty of space and a clear view of the wildlife. By off-road tracking we will be able to get excellent viewing angles of lions, leopard, cheetah, rhino, elephants and many other species of animals. These game drives are so good that we would recommend this location even if the reserve did not have photographic hides.

© Buddy Eleazer

PHOTOGRAPHIC HIDES

There are currently seven photographic hides on Zimanga. these include

  • Two Bird Bath Hides or Reflection Hides.  These are ideal for small bird photography.
  • The larger Lagoon hide focuses on water birds and crocodiles in the summer season.
  • Two Overnight Hides – These are the only photographic hides for overnight photography of large mammals. The hides are equipped with special lights for photographing, tripods, beds, and even Wi-Fi.
  • The bee-eater hide is a mobile unit that can be placed in close proximity to where white-fronted bee-eaters nest and produces stunning results for these colorful birds.
  • The Scavengers Hill is situated on a hill looking over a valley and beautiful mountain backdrop, and the action can be fierce as up to 5 species of vultures, alongside other scavengers, compete for food.  Please note that the vulture hide is only available should a carcass be obtained.

White Backed Vulture visiting the Scavenger Hide ©Buddy Eleazer

These hides have been designed and built by the owners of Zimanga and Bence Mate who is not only a former winner of the coveted BBC wildlife photographer of the year award in 2010 but is a world authority in hide design, construction and photography. Bence has previously built hides on his farm in his native Hungary as well as Costa Rica and South America, but these are his first hides in Africa.

Planning and building hides of this caliber is an exhaustive process. First a location is selected from an extensive short list before a test box is installed and used for several months allowing the design and positioning to be adjusted, often by the tiniest degree, to ensure that the lighting, focal lengths, backgrounds and animal behavior all fall in to place so that the photographers produce images of startling quality and originality.

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 specially imported one-way glass so as not to startle the subject with any movements or sounds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photographers are seated on comfortable executive-style chairs, which glide effortlessly and quietly on across the wood laminate flooring. A solar-powered air conditioning unit situated in the roof of the hide controls the temperature and humidity within.  The hides are spacious and soundproofed with carpet on the walls to muffle the sound. The carpets themselves are inlaid with a fine silver thread to eliminate mildew growth in such close proximity to a water source.

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 favor of the photographer to get that amazing shot.

With the exception of Overnight Hide, all Zimanga’s hides harness the power of the sun, with all the electricity demands for the hides met by solar installations.

Please note the following important factors when deciding to visit the hides at Zimanga:

  • Be aware of minimum focal distance limitations on your lenses.  Typical subject distances can be seen under each hide description
  • Tripods, Benro gimbal heads and mounting brackets are provided to guests at no charge
  • There are no toilet facilities close by so please limit your intake of fluids and coffee during the hide sessions.
  • The hides are dark to minimize reflections from inside, and are mostly underground.  Please be aware of this if you suffer from claustrophobia

ZIMANGA MAIN LODGE

The Zimanga Main Lodge opened in 2018. The floor plan of the new lodge includes spacious lounge areas inside the main building, on the decks as well as an elevated view of the valley from the roof lounge.  Other facilities include a boardroom, library and quiet lounge attached to the south-eastern wing for those seeking to escape the crowd.  The term crowd is loosely used here as the lodge will only sleep a maximum of 14 guests, hosted in six free standing two-bedded units with two additional single rooms, offering privacy within a splendid KwaZulu Natal lowveld setting.

7 NIGHTS – 8 days

Our 7 Night stay consists of the following:

  • One arrival night in Durban’s nearby resort of Zimabali. Upon arrival we will all meet up for a ‘meet and greet’ dinner prior to our next day transfer to Zimanga.
  • 6 Nights at accommodation at Zimanga Main Lodge, including 12 activities, meals and drinks supplied during meals
  • Transfers from Durban to/from Zimanga by charter bus
  • Private suite (sharing) or single room, each with en-suite facilities, air-conditioning, private deck, work desk and multiple input plug points
  • Game Drives to track down some of Zimanga’s charismatic animal species (guaranteed window seat)
  • Includes Tips at the lodge
  • Includes Laundry Services
  • Hide Sessions with choices including:
    • Birdbath hide session at Mkhombe and Bhejane Hides
    • Lagoon Hide
    • Vulture/Scavenger Hide
    • Two Session in the two Overnight Hides – Many have asked for more Overnight Hide sessions during their visits, and Zimanga listened.  The construction of the new Tamboti Overnight Hide is complete and there are now 2 overnight hides, each can accommodate 3 people per night.

Excludes

  • All alcoholic drinks
  • Additional canned and bottled beverages
  • Curios, and items of a personal nature

The Cost

  • The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $5495 per person. If a single room is desired, a $400 single supplement is charted. The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography or not.
  • Due to the limited number of spaces available, if a solo guest is willing to share a room and we can match with another guest of the same gender, we will do so. If a solo guest is unwilling to share, then a single supplement will be charged $530.
    • Deposit and Payment PlanTo reserve your space, a non-refundable deposit of $1,000 is required. the remaining cost will be split into two equal payments due in November 2019 and February 2020.

Necessary Fine Print: South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe are stable countries, but the world is changing and Africa is changing with it. We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.

  • *Special Note: We offer special discount pricing if you join us for both this safari and the Zimanga Private Reserve Safari.

Terms and Conditions For This Event – Please contact us regarding details.

© Buddy Eleazer

What Do I Do Next?

  • This group size sounds large at 12, but his is a very popular destination and space is limited. If this exciting trip fits you, your camera club or you and a group of friends; if you’re excited by the thought of seeing nature while taking your photography to the next level, then now is the time to register. If you have any questions or wish to register, send us an e-mail with any inquiries to eleazer@gmail.com.

Giraffe in Silhoutte, © Buddy Eleazer