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Bird hides are much more than secluded hotspots for spying on bird and animal life. At some you can even spend the night. It’s your chance to briefly co-exist with wild creatures without any disturbance from other hide visitors. By Arnold Ras

Stofdam Bird Hide

Mokala National Park

Experience the ultimate wildlife viewing experience on a budget – a night in a hide! Photo by Bridgena and Johan Barnard.

Picture by Bridgena and Johan Barnard

Proclaimed as a national park only in 2007, Mokala has become a favourite with many. Home to the iconic camelthorn tree, and various bird and antelope species, this park is well worth a visit. For a unique bush adventure, book a night at Stofdam Bird Hide. When the other visitors head home, flip down the built-in bunk beds and settle in for the show. As the hide overlooks a dam, wildlife sightings will be plenty. Although guests should provide their own bedding, linen, cutlery, and cooking utensils, there’s a solar geyser for a hot shower, an outside braai area, and toilet facilities. Basic and blissful! Take note that the hide can booked for only one night. Check-in is one hour before gate closing and keys should be returned one hour after gate opening.

Top sightings: Tsessebe, roan antelope, black springbok
Rate: R550 for one to four guests
Bookings: +27 (0)53 204 8000

Shipandani Overnight Hide

Kruger National Park

You haven’t experienced the Kruger National Park in all its glory until you have slept out in the bush. Just three kilometres from Mopani Rest Camp, you will come across the Shipandani Overnight Hide. Situated on the banks of the Tsendze River, the hide is a great spot for seeing waterbirds, as well as big game like giraffe and buffalo. Like at Stofdam, the beds flip down from the walls. If you don’t want to lug along your own bedding, cutlery and crockery, you can arrange for a delivery from Mopani Camp (refundable deposit payable). The hide has a braai area with table and chairs, plus a bush toilet, but no running water. While the accommodation is rustic, the experience is singular. There’s nothing better than falling asleep to the sounds of the wilderness. Kruger will come alive not only in your dreams, but right in front of your eyes.

Top sightings: Saddle-billed stork, hippo, klipspringer, giraffe, lilac-breasted roller
Rate: R725 for two guests per night (up to six guests); R330 per additional adult, and R165 per additional child
Bookings: +27 (0)13 735 6535/6, +27 (0)82 802 1113

Spekboom Tented Camp

Addo Elephant National Park

Although you cannot overnight inside Spekboom Hide, as a guest of the stunning and secluded Spekboom Tented Camp you will have all-night access to the hide. You will receive your own set of keys to explore in your own time – at sunset, dawn, or even midnight. The Spekboom safari tents have proper beds and a little deck with two camping chairs where you can relax. The ablutions boast a proper shower and a flush loo – impressive luxury in the heart of the bush. This secluded setting calls for a summer braai under the stars and chats late into the night. And with more than 600 ellies calling this park home, you might just have the chance to eavesdrop on some of these gentle giants.

Top sightings: Elephant, Cape buffalo, spotted hyena, warthog
Rate: R1,010 for two guests per night
Bookings: +27 (0)42 233 8600

Featured picture by Bridgena and Johan Barnard