The Photographer’s Safari Travel Gear Guide

This summer I was lucky to have the opportunity to travel to South Africa and go on safari.  It was an absolutely amazing trip, and a photographer’s dream to be surrounded by such amazing nature and have the opportunity to photograph animals in their natural habitats.  Before I left for my trip I scoured the web for advice on what to pack and what gear to bring.  So for the benefit of others who may have the chance to make that trip in the future I thought I would share what I found the real necessities for the trip and why.

First the gear:

F-Stop Stowe Backpack with ICU

My camera bodies, lenses, laptop, binoculars and other electronics traveled safely and subtly in a green F-Stop Stowe  backpack with a large pro ICU.  I probably could have even gotten away with a medium ICU.   The bag is very flexible, you can use it with the ICU was luggage for your gear, and then after you arrive you can remove the ICU and use the bag as regular backpack.   The green canvas is cute, and the compact, boxy design allowed me to disguise a heavy, packed-with-valuables bag as a lightweight backpack and get it through all of the approvals as cabin baggage.  It even fit under the seat in front of me on a propeller flight.

Eddie Bauer Sling Bag

In place of a purse I chose to bring a small sling bag.  This option from Eddie Bauer was even big enough to carry my D700 with 80-400 lens.  It has a front organizer pocket that was great for passports and boarding passes, and a larger main section where I kept things like a spare jacket and umbrella.

Eddie Bauer Travex Vest

For the ride on the open air Landrover I found the cargo vest a great way to keep extra batteries, sunglasses, an iphone, and a point-and-shoot camera.  The Eddie Bauer version has plenty of pockets to hold all of the gear and a great, stylish look.

Ex Officio Bugsaway Pants

Bugs can be a nuisance or even a health threat in most countries where you go on safari, and I decided to give these special Bugsaway pants a try.  I can’t vouch for the insect repellant qualities because as it turned out there weren’t many bugs in South Africa in the winter, but nevertheless these pants were a great lightweight and comfortable addition to my wardrobe.  They are also versatile, with snaps to roll them up and use them like capris.

And the photography equipment:

Nikon D700

The D700 provided great low-light performance for both the early mornings and late evenings went spent on game drives.  I chose the more compact D700 over the larger professional models so that it would be easier to shoot hand-held in a crowded vehicle.  I also brought me older D300 as a backup, a travel battery charger, extra memory cards, and 3 spare batteries.

Nikon 80-400mm

Probably the hardest decision for me to which lens to bring to be able to best capture the wildlife.  I brought a wide angle lens, a mid-range lens and the 80-400.  In the end I only needed the 80-400 for 99% of the shots, and used my point-and-shoot for the other shots.  The 80-400 lens was a reasonable size for the bumpy open-air vehicle rides, but a long enough lens to be able to get close-ups of animals and even birds.  The wider end of the range was nice to capture full shots of nearby giraffes and elephants.  The F/4.5-5.6 was slower than I would have wanted at times, but I could usually compensate with higher ISOs.


I hope this basic gear guide is helpful in your trip planning!

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Posted in Uncategorized 10 years, 3 months ago at 10:26 pm.

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