JOURNAL

Hiding Out at Rockfig’s Photographic Hide

There’s something undeniably special about a wildlife hide. You’re hidden from the game, though their keen sense of smell likely gives you away. Yet, you’re close enough to witness the intimate details of their lives – their slurps, splashes, and the delicate dance for prime position at the waterhole.

See a video of our hide from Zimbo with a Drone!

The midday sun beat down on Madikwe Game Reserve, baking the savanna in a golden glow. We settled into the photographic hide at Rockfig, a comfortable, enclosed spot overlooking a watering hole. 

Recently, the elephants have developed a fondness for this particular waterhole, frequenting it daily. We perched in the hide, patiently waiting, watching a resident blacksmith lapwing flitting about the water’s edge. Suddenly, a sharp crack echoed in the distance. Silence descended. Then, a peek to the right revealed a herd of elephants lumbering out of the bushes.

Around twelve mighty elephants surrounded the waterhole, and that’s when the symphony began: the snorting, the rumbling, the playful spraying. The watering hole became a stage for a display of dominance as the elephants jostled for the prime drinking spots. Witnessing them up close was an awe-inspiring experience. In the distance, a hesitant dazzle of zebras approached, hoping for a chance to quench their thirst, but the elephants clearly had other plans.

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Photo credit: Hanru Nortje
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Photo credit: Hanru Nortje

After a while, the herd dispersed, and the zebras finally got their turn, their black and white stripes standing out starkly against the landscape. The midday heat seemed to energise them, and their playful nips at each other added some amusement to the scene.

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Photo credit: Hanru Nortje
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Photo credit: Hanru Nortje

But wait, there’s more! Unbeknownst to us, several other mammals were waiting patiently in the wings for their turn. Out popped three klipspringers, every twitch of their ears betraying their nervousness. They were followed by a majestic young male kudu, his spiral horns gleaming in the sun. He approached cautiously, his radar-like ears swivelling to pick up any sound of danger. With a final, graceful flick of his tail, he dipped his head for a refreshing drink.

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Photo credit: Daina Prins
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Photo credit: Hanru Nortje

Just as these new arrivals settled in, they were startled once again. A second herd of elephants made their way to the waterhole. The youngest calf in this group stole the show, splashing water about and flailing her trunk with all her might, clearly still mastering the art of trunk control.

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Photo credit: Hanru Nortje

Once more, the elephants’ departure brought a brief moment of silence. We remained quietly observant until a sudden whoosh broke our thoughts. Two African Hawk Eagles had swooped down to join the party at the waterhole. One of the magnificent birds leaned forward, took a quick gulp, and then soared away with their partner in tow. A quick, yet incredible sighting.

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Photo credit: Daina Prins

Later that evening, as we returned from a thrilling game drive, we couldn’t resist checking the live feed camera set at the bar in the main lodge building. As Lady Luck would have it, a brown hyena had made an appearance! Unfortunately, brown hyenas tend to be very shy, so all we have is a picture from the camera.

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Photo credit: Daina Prins

The photographic hide offers a window into a hidden world, but the beauty of these encounters goes beyond the stunning visuals captured in photographs. It’s the thrill of witnessing wildlife in their natural habitat, the appreciation for the intricate balance of the ecosystem, and the humbling realisation of our place within it. These are the memories that you’ll carry with you long after you leave.

Bonus: 
Snacks and drinks can be ordered to the hide, so you can spend as long as you need, without missing any of the action, or refreshments!

Tips for Your Wildlife Photography Adventure

Planning a trip to Rockfig Lodge and want to capture your own unforgettable wildlife encounters? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Adjust your camera settings: The bright sun might require adjustments to your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to avoid overexposed photos.
  • Respect the animals: Do not reach out of the hide windows and avoid disturbing their natural behaviour.
  • Patience is key: Great wildlife photos often require waiting for the right moment.


With a little preparation and a lot of respect for the wildlife, you can turn your hide visit at Rockfig into a photographic adventure filled with unforgettable moments.

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