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

Dates: July 23 – July 31, 2024 (9 days/8 nights)

Cost:

  • The cost is $6,955.00 per person, based on double occupancy per room.
  • The cost for single supplement room is an additional $500 per person (total $7,455).

Number of Clients: 12 (2 spaces remain available)

Trip Leaders: Buddy Eleazer (link to bio) and Don Schroder (link to bio)

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

©P. B. Eleazer

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.

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.

Some say nothing beats the exhilaration 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.

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

PHOTOGRAPHIC HIDES

There are currently seven photographic hides on Zimanga. these include

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Scavenger’s 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.
  • 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. Typically, the white fronted bee eaters arrive in the area in early July and begin nesting at the month’s end. We hope nature keeps the schedule, but this hide use will be dependent on the arrival of migratory birds.

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 into 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.

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

©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.

Zimanga’s New Lodge

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.

Our 7 Night stay consists of the following:

  • One Round trip flight from Johannesburg to Richards Bay, South Africa. Upon arrival we will collected and transfered to Zimanga.
  • Seven (7) Nights at accommodation at Zimanga Main Lodge, including activities, meals and drinks supplied during meals
  • Transfer from Zimanga by charter bus back to Richards Bay and our flight back to Johannesburg
  • Private suite (sharing) or single room, each with en-suite facilities, air-conditioning, private deck, work desk and multiple input plug points
  • Includes Drinks at the Lodge
  • Includes Laundry Services
  • Game Drives to track down some of Zimanga’s charismatic animal species (guaranteed window seat)
  • Hide Sessions with choices including:
    • Reflection (Birdbath) hide session at Mkhombe and Bhejane Hides
    • Lagoon Hide
    • Vulture/Scavenger Hide
    • Two Session in the two Overnight Hides

©P. B. Eleazer

Excludes

  • Flights from your home to/from Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Arrival night in Johannesburg (we stay at OR Tambo City Lodge with a cost of ~$110/night but varies with the exchange rates)
  • All canned or bottled and alcoholic drinks outside of those served with meals
  • Curios, and items of a personal nature
  • Tips for guides and lodge staff

The Cost

  • The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $6,955 per person double occupancy. We have 4 single rooms at the lodge. If a single room is desired, a $500 single supplement is required. 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.
  • Deposit and Payment Plan– To reserve your space, a non-refundable deposit of 40% is required. The remaining cost will be split into two equal payments due with one due 6 months prior to departure and the final payment due 3 months prior to departure.

NOTE: Payment may be paid by Zelle (preferred method), personal check, bank wire transfer or credit card; however, if a credit card is used, a 3% service and handling charge will be added to the amount due.

Necessary Fine Print: South Africa is a stable country, 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 (medical emergencies, political, climatic, environmental, or cultural) 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.

Terms and Conditions will apply and will be sent to interested parties upon request, however general cancellation terms are as follows:

Cancellation Policy

If you must cancel, Magnum Excursions needs written cancellation notification. All cancellations are only effective once confirmed in writing by our office.

A non-refundable deposit is required to hold a spot for all Photo Workshops and Safaris.  Please note that the initial deposit is 100% non-refundable. For payments made after the initial deposit, Magnum Excursions LLC will retain the following percentages of the money paid.

  • Your initial deposit is 100% non-refundable
  • If you cancel 181 days or more prior to the program start date, Magnum Excursions will retain your initial deposit plus 25% of additional invoiced amount paid
  • If you cancel between 120 and 180 days prior to program start date, Magnum Excursions LLC will retain your initial deposit plus 50% of all additional invoiced amount paid
  • NO REFUND will be provided on cancellations made within 120 days of the program start date

Please note: For personal convenience, some clients make payments in excess of invoiced amounts. Except as stated above, Magnum Excursions LLC will refund 100% of these excess payments made beyond the invoiced amounts.

Please note: All refunds are subject to commission and/or bank charges.

Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended to enable recovery of deposits in the event of a need to cancel participation for medical or personal reasons covered by the policy.

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 buddy@MagnumExcursions.com.

Last modified: January 25, 2024

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