Earlier this year, Makumu Private Game Lodge, in the 60 000 ha Klaserie Private Nature Reserve introduced its new subterranean photographic bunker. Unique to the safari scene in the Greater Kruger region, the underground bunker offers Makumu guests the opportunity to photograph, at ground level, wildlife coming to the pan to drink or cool down. The bunker has been named iThumbela, which loosely translated from the Xitsonga language means ‘place to hide’.
Owner Stefan Breuer has always had a passion for photography. In 2006, together with renowned photographer Michael Poliza, Breuer undertook an epic nine-week photographic adventure in his bright red helicopter from Hamburg, Germany to Cape Town, South Africa, together. Their journey was captured in a series of 25 000 images of landscapes, people and wildlife, and a never-been-done-before photographic journal in the form of a coffee table book, Eyes Over Africa.
“What I often find missing on safari is the opportunity to get very close to game in a relaxed environment, without them being aware of my presence”, says Breuer. The bunker is eco-friendly and made from a submerged, camouflaged container, so as not to disturb the surrounding fauna and flora. Being able to photograph wildlife at eye-level provides a completely new perspective to a shot.
Located a mere 20-minute drive from the lodge, iThumbela has a small staircase descending into the bunker. Facilities include a couch and photographic counter with bar stools, a selection of drinks, tea and coffee making facilities and photographic resource books.
iThumbela is an exciting addition to Makumu’s safari offering, offering an experience that will particularly appeal to expert photographers looking for a completely unique angle from which to photograph game, birdlife and animal behaviour. The bunker is situated on the edge of one of the area’s most active waterholes and game regularly come to drink or bathe here. From elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion and hyena to leopard, wildebeest and a variety of bird species, this ‘place to hide’ offers a morning or afternoon well spent.
Photo credits: Stefan Breuer and Morné Hamlyn