Giant’s Castle Camp Review
Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Self-Catering Accommodation with Restaurant – Giant’s Castle Game Reserve Reservations
The Giants Castle Game Reserve is located within the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and is integral with the Drakensberg massif. The Bushman’s River has eroded deep valleys within this catchment area, creating the wonderful mountain scenery that is Giant’s Castle.
This central Drakensberg area has quite a diverse wildlife population with eland, common reedbuck, mountain reedbuck and baboons prelevant. Montane birding is excellent too with the beautiful indigenous garden of Giant’s Castle Camp an excellent venue to spend time with ones binoculars and bird-book.
Lana and I recently visited Giant’s Castle Camp – primarily to ascertain the integrity of the new Vulture restaurant hide that had recently been opened. I had secured the honeymoon suite which has a lovely outlook over the profile of Giant’s Castle and the river below. The only possible negative with regards to the honeymoon suite is the distance from the car park, with our cameras and food etc it took more than one trip, most of Giant’s Castle accommodation abut the camp road network, with easy egress for unloading ones luggage.
Settled in we enjoyed the grounds with it's rich flora and numerous rock hyrax (Dassies) and birdlife. It was the montane birdlife at the upper levels that we were interested in, so early next morning, immediately after the breakfast which is included in the tariff, without option to rather self-cater for that meal, Lana and I lugged our camera cases to the car and off up the rough track (4X4) to the ‘New Hide’. Beautifully sculpted like an enormous boulder, we entered its comfortable confines. Opened the photographer’s flaps and set the bones out, at what I deemed a reasonable distance, taking care to hid the bones from the photographers view. Drove the car back a fair distance from the hide and started our hide session. We did not need wait too long before the Cape Vultures, White-necked Ravens and Lammergeiers (Bearded Vulture) commenced an ongoing fly by at the edge of the drop-off. This hide faces due north, with the sun in May at quite a low aspect, this unfortunately put the side facing us of the birds flying by in shadow from our vantage, making for some tricky exposure settings and poor images capture. The distance was also a tad further than the sightings we had from the ‘Old Hide’. The old hide remains THE hide to visit, with reservations very far in advance necessary, as it is so popular. I managed to secure a week-end booking for the ‘Old Hide” in February 2016 and consider myself lucky.
Our bone and traces of meat offerings were totally ignored and we decided to cut the hide session short after some three hours of relatively unsuccessful photography. There are no ‘vantage point’ rocks immediately in front of this hide either for birds to land on before going down to the long grass and bait. For those visiting these hides, the authorities at Giant’s Castle Camp include bones to be used as a bait, may I suggest that birders bring their own meaty bones to supplement this rather meatless offering, it might proved better success in attracting these sought after birds and provide a better meal.
We returned to Giant’s Castle Camp and took advantage of the lovely grounds to make up for the lack of photographs from our hide experience.
We return early next year. I sincerely hope that the Provincial authorities repair the main district roads in to the area from the N3. Giant’s Castle Game Reserve access road has recently been resurfaced and repaired from the entrance gate to within Giant’s Castle Camp itself by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
As we were there primarily for the birding we did not visit the excellent San rock art and Diorama depicting these folk in the shelter that they would have used, certainly worth a visit and an easy walk from Giant’s Castle Camp.
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Read about our visit to Giant's Castle Camp - May 2015 - April 2016