11 June 2014 by Andrea Weiss

Go on a virtual safari

So you’re back at your desk and counting the days to your next annual bush break. There’s an answer to your troubles ...

A herd of impala drinking at Naledi

There's no sensation quite like the withdrawal symptoms from the African bush, but fortunately modern technology has a solution for your problem: a virtual safari.

Log on to a website linked to one of several webcams located at waterholes in the national parks and nature reserves of South Africa, and you will be transported straight back to your favourite place.

Here you can watch skittish herds of impala coming down to drink, hippos basking on the bank of a dam or elephants taking their midday bathe...

The most extensive of these webcams is run by Africam, which has cameras strategically placed at several private reserves. These include Naledi, part of the Greater Kruger National Park; Tembe Elephant Park, a 300km2 reserve on the southern border with Mozambique; and Nkorho Pan, Elephant Plains, and Idube, all three of which are in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve adjoining Kruger.

These cameras live-stream the action and bring the sound of the bush to your desktop, and the only time they'll shy away is if a rhino comes down to drink (due to the poaching crisis affecting rhinos right now).

Their sixth camera, called Eagle Cam, is set up on a 50m-high cliff in the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, where a pair of Verreaux's eagles (formerly known as black eagles) regularly nest. 

The webcam in the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden where a pair of Verreaux's eagles is breeding

Right now the breeding season is in full swing and the female eagle, called Emoyeni, is sitting on two eggs that are expected to hatch any day. Africam has put out a challenge to its viewers to see if they can catch the moment on screen.

Emoyeni, the female eagle, on her nest, unaware of the camera's attention

Africam also allows you to follow the action on Facebook and Twitter, share screen shots, and will send out email alerts at your request.

SANParks, the organisation that runs South Africa's national parks, also has several webcams at some of the most popular waterholes in the country. These are at Orpen and Satara in the Kruger National Park, Nossob in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and one in the Addo Elephant National Park. 

A lion snapped drinking at the Nossob waterhole early in the morning

All show still pictures that are refreshed every 15 seconds, while you can also watch a live-stream from Orpen, Addo and Satara (if you have sufficient bandwidth and the boss isn't watching). 

When you see something exciting, you can click on it to highlight the image for other visitors to the website in case they missed it.

Occasionally these webcams may go offline (hey, this is the African bush after all), but then there really is no substitute for the real thing. So why not just start planning your real safari now?

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