Binoculars – Bring your eyes!
Seldom does wildlife come up close and personal, so we would suggest being able to bring these wonderful animals closer to you. Don’t always rely on the properties or tour guides when they say “binoculars provided” as you may land up having to share with someone else, which can become irritating and not always ideal. If you plan to go on walking safaris then weight becomes an important consideration, but if they’re solely for in-vehicle use this is less of an issue. A pair of 8×42 binoculars with coated lenses will serve most extremely well.
Picture Perfect Camera needs to know.
For the safari-goer who merely wants to take home memories of the trip, a good point-and-shoot camera will suffice. The digital zoom capabilities and image quality on these cameras is generally quite good. For the more serious photographer we suggest bringing a DSLR with one or two interchangeable lenses of different focal lengths. Safari shots taken in the early morning and late afternoon hours usually produce the best photos of the animals and landscapes. Mid-day photos often lack vivid colors and needed contrast.
Cell Phone Reception & Internet Access in the Bush or while on safari is a possibility at some lodges, though it should not be considered a given. If this is a matter of concern for you it’s best to check with your consultant ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to check with your service provider before travelling to ensure that your phone will work in Africa.
“I have nothing to wear!”
The general rule of thumb while on safari is that clothing should be comfortable, casual, wash & wear. The most practical items to pack are light cotton tops and cotton trousers or shorts in khaki, brown and beige. Bright colours and white are not recommended. A hat or cap is imperative, as you’ll often be in direct sunlight while out on game drive. Game drives take place in the early morning and late afternoon, which can be very chilly (especially in winter), so make sure to pack a fleece or sweater, as well as a warm jacket. Gloves and a beanie won’t go amiss either, particularly if you’re sensitive to the cold. Yes, your fellow safari-goers might point and laugh at your bag of winter gear when you head out in the blazing African sun. However when it gets dark and the temperature drops significantly, you’ll be the one that’s smiling. Comfortable walking shoes are essential for if you’re planning to go on bush walks or walking safaris. However it’s best to pack practical footwear regardless. Swimwear is a must when travelling to the coastal areas of South or East Africa. Most of the lodges have swimming pools too, so it’s nice to at least have the option of cooling off when the heat gets too much.
Tipping on Safari – How much is too much?
Tipping is at your discretion and comes down to the level of service you receive. In Africa, this is not expected but has become customary. Bear in mind that what may seem like an inconsequential amount to you may be significant to a local.
Cash tips can be given in US dollars or South African Rands (ZAR). Most camps do allow tipping by credit card if you prefer not to carry cash, but it’s advisable to check this in advance.
- Rangers: $10 – $25 per guest per day in a shared safari vehicle and at least double that amount per guest in a private safari vehicle.
- Trackers: $5 – $10 per guest per day.
- General staff (cleaners, cooks, waiters, butlers, valet etc.): $5 per guest per day.