Top 5 Things to Pack for a Safari

Going on safari in the Serengeti was one of the most amazing travel experiences of my life, right up there with seeing the Northern Lights and cruising the Galapagos Islands. But going on safari isn’t all fun and games – the dust, the discomfort of sitting for long periods, the bumpy roads and the heat can mar an otherwise fantastic experience. Here’s my top 5 things to pack for a safari to ensure you’re ready for anything.

top 5 pack for a safari binoculars taking to the open road peggy tee dessafari

1. Binoculars

This is an absolutely essential item to pack for a safari. Although most of the time the wildlife are really, really close, you’ll want these for the shyer, more elusive animals, like camouflaged leopards, snoozing high up in a tree 50 metres away. And you’ll definitely want a pair of binoculars if you’re looking out for rare black rhino to complete your set of the Big 5!

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top 5 things pack for a safari camera lion taking to the open road peggy tee

2. Spare camera batteries

Most safaris hole up at camp sites – unless you’ve shelled out for a luxury lodge, you’ll have to make do with going off the grid for a few days at least. A spare set of camera batteries, all fully charged, will come in handy – Africa’s landscapes are gorgeous and you’ll run down your batteries quickly.

top 5 things to pack sunglasses taking to the open road peggy tee

3. Sunglasses

Driving around with the windows down, the wind in your hair, sun on your face and elephants standing in a grove of trees just ahead of you sounds like the perfect safari outing, but add in clouds of dust kicked up by other jeeps and waves of heat carried on the wind, stinging your eyes, and you’ll see why sunglasses are a necessity for any safari. Pack a good pair, preferably wrap around, to cut the glare and shield your eyes from the heat and dust.

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top 5 pack for a safari camera bean bag taking to the open road peggy tee-001

4. Camera bean bag

If you’re relatively serious about wildlife photography on safari, you’re going to want one of these. In a pop up roof jeep there is no space for a tripod. A camera bean bag is lighter, takes up less space and is far more versatile. Keep the tripods at home and bring a bean bag instead. You can make one to suit your lens size (like I did) or buy one off any number of good photography shops. Best of all, it doubles up as a travel pillow at camp.

top 5 things to pack for a safari sunrise camp taking to the open road peggy tee

5. Torch

It gets dark out in the wild. Whether you’re camping or staying in a lodge, you’ll need a torch, or even better, a headtorch to keep your hands free. It’ll also come useful for when you’ve dropped something in the jeep during a night drive, or simply to light your way when you’re walking to the toilets at night – just be wary of all those eyes shining back at you in the bush!

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These are just 5 of the most essential things you’ll need on safari. Basics like neutral coloured clothing in natural material, good shoes and insect repellent are also recommended. To add a little luxury to my basic camping safari experience, I packed my favourite teas to drink at the campfires at night. What else would you suggest packing for a safari trip?

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5 Comments

  1. interesting – never heard of a camera bean bag before. You obviously think they are worth it? Seems bulky but for taking cameras out the side of a vehicle makes sense

    1. It’s actually really useful for situations where you don’t have space for a tripod, or if you want a stabiliser for a low shot. I made my own bean bag and used styrofoam beads, which made it light, though a little bulky. Some of the pro bean bags come with zips, so you can travel with it folded flat, then when you get to your destination, simply fill with beans or rice from a local market and voila! A portable, light, bean bag perfect for safari photography!

  2. Noah says:

    Extend lenses for the DLSR … pictures that are too-zoomed out are very sad pictures indeed.

    1. Yes absolutely! A good zoom lens is a must on safari. Thanks for commenting!

    2. Agree! A zoom lens is a must for safari. I got myself a 18-300mm, but professionals usually carry 300-700mm lenses. They’re heavy and very expensive though, probably a little too much for amateur wildlife photographers like me.

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