What to Buy When Going on an African Safari

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As we prepare for our trip to Kenya and Tanzania in just a few weeks, there have been several items that we have purchased with the safari in mind. Some of them were items that we needed to replace, some were things very specific to the safari, and all will be useful on other trips in the future. To be clear, we purchased all of the items and none of them were given to us as a promotional product. We are light packers these days, regardless of the trip, but since we’re going to spend 11 nights on safari, we are only taking carry on bags, so everything that we take needs to serve a purpose. Obviously we’re taking more than just these items, but these are the things that we bought in preparation for our trip.

Safari Hat and Shirt

Safari Hats and Shirts – We have several shirts that are sufficient for going on safari that we used when going to the Amazon Rainforest as well as to Egypt, but we decided that it was time to get a few more. One thing that we don’t normally wear are hats, but considering the amount of time that we are going to be exposed to the sun, we definitely needed wide brimmed hats that will protect our heads from getting burned.

Power Converter

Multi-Outlet Power Converter – Although we’ve had a power converter for years that has served us well, we decided to upgrade to a new power converter that has multiple outlets so that we can charge several items at once. The amount of time in the lodge is going to be limited as most of our time will be spent in the jeep, so keeping our phones, cameras, and other electronics fully charged is going to be important. With this power converter we can charge up to 6 items at one time compared to our old converter that could only charge a single item.

HD Telephoto Lens

DSLR 400 – 800 mm Zoom Lens – We have other lenses for our camera, but we decided that for this trip we should getter a different telephoto lens. We don’t know how close or how far away we will be to certain animals, but we definitely don’t want to miss out on getting that close-up of a lion or other animal just because we couldn’t get close enough.

Camera Backpack

Camera Backpack – This is certainly something that we should have purchased years ago as will definitely make taking multiple cameras and lenses much easier. It is large enough to put everything into, but small enough to use as a personal item for the flight. It will definitely protect the camera equipment during the times when the cameras are not out and in use.

Burgundy Duffle Bag

New Duffle Bags – It was about time for us to get new duffel bags as our other bags had seen 7 years of travel to over 30 countries. We always want duffel bags as carry-on bags so that they can squeeze into tight spaces and collapse when not in use. Hopefully these will last as long as our last ones and make their way to even more countries.

iPhone Lens Set

iPhone Zoom and Fisheye Lenses – We take as many photos with our phones as we do our cameras, so having different lenses that simply clip over the phone camera lens provides the opportunity to capture things that we wouldn’t always get. We also like the images that the fisheye lens produces, so we’re looking forward to playing with some of the different images.

Although we did buy these items with our safari in mind, clearly they will all be useful for all of our upcoming trips. It is very rare for us to buy things specifically for a trip, so versatility is important to us. We look forward to all of these items as we head to Africa in just a few weeks.

Do You Need an Actual Camera When You Travel?

With cell phone cameras getting better and better every year, it begs the question whether or not you should take up room in your bags for a camera. Even if we have a camera with us, we still use our camera phones in addition to using a traditional camera. On a couple of occasions we have decided not to take our camera with us at all, but in most cases we always take a camera with us. There are several reasons for packing our camera and extra lenses when traveling, despite the improvements in cell phone camera technology.

Monkey in Panama with a Phone

Taken with a Camera and Zoom Lens

Colosseum in Rome with the Camera and Zoom

Zoomed Using the Cell Phone

We have a couple of lenses for our camera, including a vibration reduction zoom lens. There are many times during a trip that we get the opportunity to have amazing views of a city or landscape. Having a camera with a zoom lens allows us to take photographs of objects in the distance and see them in a way that we couldn’t otherwise. Many of these photographs turn out to be some of our favorite photographs from a location. Another benefit that we find for taking photographs with a camera when traveling is that we can quickly focus on various objects as we walk through a location. Whether on a tour or just walking through a place on our own, we don’t want to stop every 30 seconds to take a picture and we find that we can get photographs of different objects without having to come to a full stop and playing with the zoom of a camera phone.

Quick Picture in the French Quarter of New Orleans

Same Shot from the Camera Phone

Florence Skyline from the Phone

Zooming in Really Close with the Camera

With that said, there are times when the cell phone camera is our preferred choice.  Obviously, there are the selfies, probably one of the biggest reasons that camera phones became popular. Also, when we are in a restaurant and want to take a photograph of our food, we’re not likely to pull out our camera and snap a few pictures. Depending on the lighting, we have also found that cell phone cameras work fairly well in low light situations like inside of buildings, churches, and museums. There certainly isn’t any doubt that camera phones continue to improve and they can produce high quality photographs.

Camera Inside of the Church in Nuremberg

Taken with the Cell Phone

We have included several similar photographs here, one taken with the camera and the other will the cell phone. Obviously, there are other factors that come into play regarding the results, but we found the comparison interesting. For the reasons previously mentioned, we’ll continue to take a camera with us, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should. Would you leave your camera at home on your next trip and rely solely on your cell phone camera?

Statues in Luxor, Egypt from the Phone

Same Statues with the Camera


Getting Up Close in Panama

When we travel, we almost always have two lenses for our camera with us. One that is a general, versatile, lens that can cover most photographs that we take of tourist sites that we visit. The other is a zoom lens that we use to either get a closer view of cityscapes or especially to capture animals in the wild. Having  a zoom lens is a great way to see animals up close without having to put yourself in danger or actually get that close to the animal your trying to capture on film. If you don’t have a zoom lens or even a DSLR camera, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get great zoom shots. If you get yourself a good pair of binoculars, you can actually take pretty good zoom shots with your cell phone. We first learned this trick when we were in Ecuador and our guide took photos for us on our phone using his binoculars. The same was true when we were in Panama and our guide once again helped us take photographs through one of the lenses of the binoculars. How ever you get them, getting those close up shots are always interesting.

Getting a Butterfly to Pose Isn’t Easy

We Didn’t Have to Climb the Tree to See the Three-Toed Sloth

Tropical Flower

Palm Tree

Cell Phone Camera and Binoculars – We Didn’t Get the Camera Firmly Against the Lens

Same Photo with the Cell Phone and Binoculars with the Camera Firmly Against the Binocular Lens

We Weren’t Going to Get Close to Him

Another Tropical Flower

Sometimes They Come to You

He Was Actually a Tiny Little Guy

Leaf Cutter Ants

With a Cell Phone Camera

Flower in the Jungle