WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO COME?

This depends on what species you are after. Both our dry season (April to October) and wet season (November to March) have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of game drives or hide sessions.

Wet Season – November to March

Activities are generally good year-round, but the wet season offers more opportunity of photographing young animals, especially herbivores, as this is the time of year most of them give birth. Bird species diversity is at its highest as migrant birds return with males in breeding plumage in the early wet season. The bush transforms when rain falls into lush greenery, although rain forms puddles in the veld, meaning subjects have access to more surface water and do not necessarily visit the hides as frequently to drink water. Several migrant bird species use the reflection hides and this is the only opportunity to photograph the most colorful birds on Zimanga. The action at the Lagoon hide can be brilliant, and the species diversity is higher, although the hide can be flooded and rendered unusable if severe storms break out as happened Dec 2015.  Afternoon thunderstorms can form quickly and result in activities to be cancelled especially during severe lighting storms. Lightning can add a great dimension to an image though.  High or prolonged rainfall can lead to closures of certain roads and sections of the reserve.  The effect of the rainy season on the overnight hide still needs to be investigated, as it will in all likelihood still draw animals, though not as frequently as during the dry season. This is still to be monitored and this page will be updated accordingly. Overcast conditions can prevail for long periods. Daytime temperatures can be very high, although activities are planned around this.  Higher temperatures are very good for crocodile photography at the lagoon hide, especially towards the latter part of summer and into autumn.  The wet season is classified as low season due to unpredictable conditions, although good photo opportunities can present themselves.

Dry Season – April to October

The diversity of bird species diminishes, although the drying bush results in the hides becoming important sources of water for birds and animals. The days are generally cool and clear, resulting in good light for photography. The latter part of the dry season can be hot and windy, and windy conditions do not bode well for especially bird activity at reflection hides. Added dust can be a great addition to backlit photography.  All hide activity is generally much better in the dry season, and the bush is more open for photography on game drives.  Good photography light tends to last for longer periods.  Due to drier conditions the birdbaths and overnight hides are used more often by birds and animals.  It is also the breeding season for vultures and the nearby breeding colony presents us with photographic opportunities at the scavengers hide.  The bee-eaters enter their longer breeding season and the chance to photograph them are high if a colony is found to place the mobile hide.  Our winter season is classified as our photography season as hides are more reliable and subject activity generally more predictable.

 

Activity Levels

Generalised graph showing hide activity of different hides during the year.  This is an estimation and actual activity is mostly weather dependent.  

 

WHAT WILL OUR ITINERARY BE LIKE?

This is dependent on the package selected. Our guides are experienced in the activity of birds and animals, and the decision on what to do during which activity is best left to decide when on the ground and assessing the conditions. On clear days you will start early, and be out before sunrise. On the contrary, on cloudy days you might start later as the available light increases for photography, but generally stay out longer as the light does not deteriorate as quickly as during clear days.

 

WHICH IS THE BEST LENS TO USE?

Depending on the size of the subject you are photographing, or the image you have in mind, lenses can range from 20mm to 800mm! A great general all-round lens is a 300 f/2.8, although zoom lenses like the 200-400mm f/4 are very versatile. A personal favourite is the 200 f/2 in the Lagoon, although the 600mm is also extremely handy, 24-70mm and 70-200mm in the overnight with longer lenses like a 400mm for small birds that visit there, 300 f/2.8 in the reflection hides and the 200-400 for the vultures and bee-eater hides. Longer lenses are also brilliant at the latter hides. The subject distances at different hides are listed under the “hides” section of the website and described individually.

 

DURING MY STAY I WOULD LIKE TO SOLELY USE THE OVERNIGHT AND LAGOON HIDES?

It cannot be done as these hides are only sold in published packages.  The reason for this is to allow all guests fair use of all the hides.  Zimanga only takes a maximum of 14 guests at any time, but even at this low number, space in the hides is limited, hence for 2-4 guests solely using these hides over their stay, it implies that the 10-12 other guests cannot have access to them over that period.  Hence activities need to be spread out over the different hides and game drives in order to give everyone equal access to the hides.  For access to the Lagoon hide, a ratio for at least 1 reflection hide session per 1 Lagoon hide session is required to achieve an workable spread of guests.  Umgodi overnight hide is sold only in package format to allow all Umgodi Overnight Package guests at least 1 night in the hide during their 4-night package stay.

 

WILL THERE BE OTHER GUESTS ON THE VEHICLE WITH ME?

Unless a vehicle and its associated activities is privately booked, then yes, we can accommodate up to 7 guests per vehicle, although the actual number on the vehicle should be lower as in all likelihood some of the other guests sharing the vehicle will be doing a hide activity.

 

IS ZIMANGA SITUATED IN A MALARIA AREA?

Officially we fall in a low risk malaria area. The recommendation is that high risk visitors (elderly guests, pregnant women etc) need to take anti-malarial precautions. We do, however, always suggest that guests discuss this with their own doctor and follow their own medical practitioner’s advice.