What to pack for a photographic safari adventure may seem like a relatively simple concept. Camera bag, lenses, camera bodies, batteries and chargers, memory cards, card readers, laptop, thats about it right?
Certainly! All of the above are must-have items on any photographic safari, in fact, your safari would prove frustrating if either of the above items are missing.
However, apart from these more obvious items, there is another list of “handy-to-have’s” which are incredibly useful items to have with you on safari. So, once your main camera bag is packed, and you’re confident that you’re not leaving anything behind, give some thought to the following list of goodies that are often overlooked:
You might be asking yourself why you would need to have a buff with you on a safari to Mana Pools in the middle of the dry season with temperatures soaring well above 40 degrees Celsius?
Well, Buffs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and designs, and having one with you, irrespective of your safari destination, will prove extremely useful. For instance, on a Polar Bear trip to Svalbard, you would probably want to have a warm, fleece-lined buff to keep your neck, head and ears warm.
But, on a summer time safari to the Sabi Sands, a light weight buff soaked in cold water and placed around your neck is a great way to keep cool in the heat of the day, whilst also offering added protection from the sun.
Whilst many people may not own a pair of binoculars, they’re certainly worth investing in. Although the focus of any photographic safari is undeniably the photographic opportunities, there are many situations in which it is simply easier to put your camera down, forget about trying to capture an image where there isn’t one to capture, and just observe, appreciate and enjoy!
A decent pair of binoculars will certainly add to your overall safari experience.
Head Lamp / Small Flashlight
If you’ve been on safari before, you probably found yourself fumbling around in the dark on the evening game drive on your way back to the lodge, trying to find lens caps, lens hoods, cleaning cloths, cameras and lenses etc.
Having a head lamp handy will save you a lot of time (and frustration), and will also ensure you don’t lose any gear in the dark.
Leaving earlier on game drive, particularly in the winter time often means you’ll be making your way to the safari vehicles before sunrise, the headlamp will ensure that you find your way to the vehicles without bumping into anything (animals or otherwise) along the way.
Whether your safari is scheduled during an areas rainy season or not, the reality is that the weather has a mind of its own. Always be prepared for rain, even if theres little to no chance of it at all.
The last thing you want, is to be caught in the rain, two hours drive from camp, and you’re trying to keep both yourself and your expensive camera gear dry. Use the rain jacket or poncho that is issued on your vehicle to keep your gear protected, and use your own travel size poncho to keep yourself dry.
Sunblock, Sunglasses and Hat
Given the extended periods of time you will be out on safari, (often in open safari vehicles), it goes without saying that sun protection is vitally important. Invest in a decent wide-brimmed hat that will give you maximum protection, protect your eyes with sunglasses, and always pack sunblock.
Insulated Water Bottle
On the same topic, be conscious of drinking enough water on safari. Although there may very well be bottles provides by the lodge, it is always useful to have your own bottle with you.
I mention an insulated bottle, purely out of preference to ensure that your water stays colder for longer. Many of these types of bottles serve a dual purpose, meaning that your morning coffee stays hot for longer as well.
Lens caps can often be quite tricky to get on and off in a hurry, especially when you come around the corner to find something exciting! But at the same time, they’re necessary to prevent your lens from being covered in dust.
The solution? and as silly as it may sound… a shower cap! Easy to place over your lens, and even easier to remove, a shower cap is the easiest way to ensure your lens stays free of dust, whilst also ensuring you don’t miss any shots while you’re still trying to remove your lens cap.
Hand Sanitizer & Pocket Tissues
Many lodges will have hand towels and sanitizer bottles available, but once again, useful carrying your own around with you. You’re out in the African bush, and theres no way to sugar coat it, its wild! You’re going to be dusty and dirty from time to time, and its always useful to keep sanitizer and tissues handy.
Apart from their obvious rock-climbing use, carabiners are really useful to keep in your camera bag. Whether you want to clip one to your belt and attach a hat, a flashlight, or attach it to your camera bag and attach sunglasses cases, hats, pocket poncho’s, water bottles etc, its a useful tool to have when wanting to keep your gear together in one place.
Last, but certainly not least, a power bank, particularly on extended safari’s and at tented camps, is the only way to keep cell phones, cameras and laptops charged at all times. Whether the camp operates with electricity, generator, or solar, its always useful to keep a power bank nearby.
So if you’re planning your next photographic safari, remember to save time to consider this list of 10 useful items over and above what goes into your camera bag, you’ll be glad that you have them with you.
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