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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?