Preparing for your African Safari

In Africa, Lessons learnt, Life, Our Journeys, Our Tips, Road Trips, Trip-Types, World Travel by GaryLeave a Comment

All those things you may need for a trip of a lifetime

As we prepare for our next African adventure, we thought we'd share all those things we put together to enjoy the best that Africa can throw at you.

A big bull elephant, Etosha, Namibia

A big bull elephant, Etosha, Namibia

This will be our fourth visit to Africa, and the third time to Zimbabwe.  

We are lucky enough to be attending the wedding of a relative, and that has given us the opportunity to capture a lot more of the memories we first enjoyed in '96 & '98.

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So, we've put together this list from our own experience - We hope it helps with your African adventure.

Let's start with the Medication

So, let's kick off with the dull stuff.  You need to stay safe.  Once you have your itinerary pegged out, and you know where you're visiting, you book your medical appointment.  A medical professional will advise on which vaccinations you may need before visiting, and what you may need to take on your travels.  

For us it was 'jabs', Yellow Fever and Tetanus, our Hepatitis was already up to date.  We need to take a course of malaria tablets before we set off, during our travels, and complete the course when we return.

Janis next to a termite mound, Waterberg, Namibia

Janis next to a termite mound, Waterberg, Namibia

While on the subject of malaria, it's a nasty disease and the world's biggest killer. In the First World, it can be treated, but it's still horrible. 

We're staying at mid to high-end locations, and all of the accommodation will provide 'mozzie nets', but if you are concerned you can buy pop-up mozzie nets on-line. 

We both seem to suffer from 'tasty blood', which means every insect in Africa likes to bite us so we've invested in a large amount of insect repellent to try to keep the little blighters at bay.

It's not a fashion parade - What to wear

Okay, so we're not style gurus, and apart from our wedding attire, we're going to be dressed practically.  That means loose fitting, neutral colour clothes.

Avoid bright colours for obvious reasons - there are times you're going to be tracking animals and you may love your cerise top, but it'll be seen before you see your prey.

Comfortable shoes are a must.  We won't be hiking miles but when we do follow a trail it's gonna be uneven, and there will be a fair bit of clambering in and out of safari trucks.

Janis and the Land Rover, Living Desert Adventures, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Namibia

Janis and the Land Rover, Swakopmund, Namibia

A hat is a must too, you need to protect yourself from sunstroke.

We both have Tilley hats which are perfect for the job.

We're dusting off the ones we bought for our Namibian adventures.

When packing remember Africa can get cold, it's especially true if you do a morning game drive (the best time to see some wildlife, especially Lions, because once it gets warm, they head for the shade). 

So slip in an extra layer you can easily peel off as the temperature rises.

Janis wrapped up warm for a morning Safari in Zimbabwe

Janis wrapped up warm for a morning Safari in Zimbabwe

Keeping charged up

Remember you're travelling to the Third World, but you know that.  It's not a problem so much in major cities, but you don't want to get caught out, do you?

Our Safari Lodge at Camp Kipwe, Namibia, Africa

Our Safari Lodge at Camp Kipwe, Namibia, Africa

Let's start with your power adaptor.  It's usually a simple case of finding the right fitting.

Fortunately, Zimbabwe is a UK power fitting running at UK voltages.

The next thing I always recommend, and this is regardless of where I'm travelling, is a USB charging hub.  Why?  Because it takes up one socket and gives you 6 USB ports to charge whatever you like.

Are you likely to need more than 6?

A USB battery charger - surely we all have one of these now - actually we have several different capacities & configuration.

The one we'll be taking is our two port RAVPower Portable Charger so we can keep both devices topped up if we like.

Prepare your chariot - for those driving in Africa.

So if you're driving, your home for a large portion of the day may be your hire vehicle, so make it comfortable.

Heidi - offroad, on Safari, Lüderitz, Namibia, Africa

Heidi - offroad, on Safari

For our trip through Namibia, I created a 'Hilux Briefing'.  It was the tips 'n' trick we learnt for travelling especially through Namibia, but there may be some additional tips there that you'll find useful.

One thing that I think is essential is a cigarette to USB charger.  The more ports, the better.

Keep your phone charged, recharge your power bank and you can run anything else you need to off a USB port.

GPS, do you need one when you hire your vehicle?  Don't forget cell phone based apps may, or may not help you - don't expect a 100% signal, that's for sure.  So for that reason, we generally buy a paper map too.

Another great gadget which we'll be taking is our Anker USB Torch.

Handy to have with us at all times, we don't expect to be driving in the dark but may be useful to have around the camp.

Capturing memories of a lifetime

So most of you that follow me, or have read my photo stories, will know I'm a Canon DSLR guy. 

I think a Safari is an ideal time to invest in a camera with interchangeable lenses that offer a decent telephoto of at least 300mm. 

A Stalking Cheetah, Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Namibia

A Stalking Cheetah, Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Namibia

If you're thinking about flexing the plastic then consider the following;

Weatherproofing - depending on when and where you are it may be damp or dusty.  Both of these are a nightmare for cameras.  Also when switching lenses then try to keep it clean.  It may be worth investing in a lens changing bag.

 Geotagging - can you camera record where your images were taken, or even record the route of your adventure?

 Memory cards - You will probably go into overdrive, snapping away, so make sure you have plenty of memory cards, and a means to back-up your memory cards.  Remember these are likely to be the memories of a lifetime.

 Don't forget UV filters for the front of your lens, it also a good idea to pack a circular polarizer too to deal with reflected light. 

The other thing I'll be taking is a tripod because Africa boasts some of the clearest skies, with minimal light pollution so you'll have a great chance of capturing our galaxy.

My Manfrotto will be packed in the hold luggage.  It's also a good idea to have a remote shutter release too.

The night sky from our safari lodge, Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Namibia

The night sky from our safari lodge, Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch, Namibia

If you have a big heavy lens, chances are it'll have a tripod mount on it.  It may be worth considering a monopod.  I'll be taking my matching Manfrotto to take some of the strain.

Finally, you'll need something to carry your kit in.

Again, for fear of sounding like a one brand pony, I'll have a Manfrotto bag.

Whatever camera bag you have, make sure it has a UV cover. Usually most camera bags are black, and that absorbs the suns radiation and heats up, your camera won't appreciate that so check to see if your camera bag does have some protection - it may also double as a rain cover.

So that's stills covered, what about video. 

When we head to Zim' we'll also be capturing some video.  Our current tool of choice is the DJI Osmo Pocket.

This little box of tricks, with its gimbal stabilised footage and plenty of trick features should be the ideal weapon of choice.

We'll also be taking our DJI Mavic 2 Pro to capture some aerial footage.
Mavic 2 Pro - Airborne

Mavic 2 Pro - Airborne

This powerful little package is small enough and easy enough to use to hopefully catch a special moment or two.

The Mavic 2 Drove in storage bag - A great gift

The Mavic 2 Drove in storage bag

So that must be everything!

Well actually no.  We're taking our Swarovski binoculars.  

For our trip to Namibia, we bought a pair of Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 Binoculars in Sand Brown.  Now, these were not cheap, but I considered them a in a lifetime investment, and they do get used at home too to check out the wildlife in our garden.

So I'm not suggesting you shell out a fortune on binoculars, but they are an excellent addition to your Safari kit.

The other item that makes our list is a reusable, collapsible, water bottle.  We all know the damage single-use plastics do to the planet and all its creatures.  This is one of the steps we take to try to reduce our impact.
We also pack a small trek towel to keep ourselves fresh for when the African sun is beating down on us.
Finally, the last item, and again travels pretty much everywhere with us is our Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker.

Throughout a break at some point we'll be back in our room in the evening with maybe a glass of red wine, and to have some of your tunes as background, well it's nice to unwind. 

Those things we take for granted

So we have a list of stuff we just take for granted - I'm sure you've got your own.

Sunscreen - yep, you're gonna need it
Sunnies - Don't forget your shades
Travel Insurance - Really, it makes sense.
Driving Licence (Intl Driving permit if required)
Regular medication - pain relief/ stomache upset/ etc
Mobile/Cell Phone/Tablet

Have we been helpful?

Hopefully, this list has been helpful.  I think it's a reasonable compressive list of what we'll be taking.  I never said we travel light, did I?  Is there anything you consider essential? 

Preparing for your African Safari

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