15 accessories for a photo safari
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to make one of my dreams come true, the kind of experience you only see on the late night shows: to go on a photo safari. I was able to enjoy a week in Tanzania and discover the Serengeti national park, the Nrgorongoro crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire. After having helped you learn how to choose your camera equipment for a safari, I suggest 15 accessories you might need for a photo safari seeing as during such a trip, you don’t really want to forget anything!
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Photo accessories on safari
1 - A Bean bag
The first and by far the most useful accessory would be the purchase of a beanbag. So, what’s that? Concretely, it’s a canvas bag that you can buy on Amazon for instance and that allows you to put your telephoto lens on the edge of the car without damaging it. Believe me when I tell you that I was missing one during the safari because I had not done enough research beforehand.
The Bean bag, a very useful accessory on safari – More details on Amazon
Depending on your safari equipment, you can be carrying more than 2kg of camera gear around… For 8 to 10 hours a day in a car, it’s get very heavy and long to carry…The idea would be to buy the bags, which are sold empty, and fill them either with rice, beans or lentils. The idea is that it should be flexible enough so that you can move it around the edge of the car at will!
2 - A polarizing filter (and a GND filter?)
So yes, you may be wondering why bring filters on a photo safari? In fact, in quite a few cases, and depending on the season that you go, the colors can be a bit bland, especially the savannah, yellow/pale green. The purpose of the polarizing filter will essentially be to enhance the colors of the savannah, but also of the sky, which would be bluer. I have written a complete article that presents what a polarizing filter is used for, but also which filters to choose and how to choose your polarizing filter. It will also be particularly useful for landscape pictures (yes, you don’t only take pictures of wildlife on safari!).
A polarizing filter remains indispensable to me on safari – More details on Amazon
This is definitely one of the accessories for a photo safari to consider! The GND filter may be less important for a photo safari, but I had it in my camera bag anyway. It can be especially useful when you are in the base camps in the evening, in the lodges (if you have money) or in the campsites (my case!). It’s one of the only moments when you can get out of the car and do some landscape photography. If the scene is highly contrasted, the graduated neutral density filter will be very useful. These are usually the two travel photo accessories that I recommend 100%. I personally had this model for my GND filter.
3 - A camera bag
The purpose of this article is not to talk about camera bags, but it is clearly part of the accessories that i will recommend for this scenario, and more generally for travel!
Indeed, during such a trip, whether you have rented your camera equipment or you decide to take your own, you will have a lot stuff, just by counting the camera bodies, and the all the lenses. Obviously, throwing everything in a bulk bag is not really an option for this type of equipment (especially considering the price).
Camera bags are available at almost any price. The Low pro brand is very well known in the industry. A few years ago, I personally bought a bag from the F-Stop brand, the Loka 37L model. I am for the moment completely delighted!
4 - A monopod or a tripod
It’s a debatable choice for some, but I think if you have enough room then don’t hesitate in taking a tripod or a monopod with you. The monopod (only one arm) can be useful especially in the car to rest your camera equipment (to avoid carrying it). Some people still prefer the beanbag, which is probably more practical in a car.
My tripod for my safari – Sirui brand – More details on Amazon
The tripod will be particularly useful if you want to take pictures when you are out of the car (but only in the cases where it is allowed ok? I’m not pushing you to get out of the car and get chased by a lion in the middle of the savannah…). In the campsites and other places, you will have the opportunity to do some long exposures on riverbanks, or to do some star trail photography.
It may not be indispensable as an accessory for a photo safari, but I took it. Mine has a tripod and monopod function at the same time (I can remove an arm from the tripod if need to).
5 - Waterproof bags
It’s rather simple as far as accessories go, but it’s so simple that I didn’t think of it for my safari. The idea of these zipped bags is to store everything that’s not resistant to dust, I’m thinking in particular of batteries, memory cards, compact cameras etc.
6 - Cleaning equipment
Here too, it’s quite basic but I advise you to take at the very least:
- Cleaning cloths to clean the lens of your lenses
- A camera brush for cleaning the camera
- An air blower (I like it)
Superb equipment to clean your gear on photo safari – More details on Amazon
Keep in mind that you will be eating dust all day long and so will your equipment. Personally, I calmly cleaned all my camera equipment every night away from the wind. You also have the possibility of buying a smaller pack for cheap and is very practical.
7 - Extra batteries
That’s obvious, too. It’s difficult to advise you on a specific number but keep in mind that you will click, click, and click…
So even if a camera battery isn’t cheap (a brand name one), I recommend at least 2 or even 3 per person. Depending on the country or the type of safari, it is possible that you won’t see any electricity for 2/3 days, maybe more? I also advise you to buy brand name batteries, to avoid any bad surprises, and to test them before you leave!
8 - Memory cards
It’s kind of the same story as with the batteries! The more you click, the more memory cards you’ll need. You don’t need to take tons of them, but at least 2 or 3 to be sure. In my case, I was emptying the cards every night on my computer with a parallel backup anyway.
Perfect for storing memory cards – More details on Amazon
For the storage of memory cards, there are waterproof cases (as above) that are perfect for protecting them in this scenario.
Moreover, for those wishing to go farther on the topic, I invite you to check our complete article to learn everything about memory cards for your cameras (type, choice, usage, etc.).
9 - Additional battery chargers
It is also one of the accessories for a photo safari you might think of. It’s not necessarily mandatory, but keep in mind that if you have several empty batteries and you have to recharge them one by one, it takes a very long time. That’s why I suggest you think about it.
10 - A universal adapter
The universal adapter is still one of the accessories that every backpack traveller already has in his backpack. In case you don’t have one yet, it’s about time you bought one. Depending on the country where you are going on safari, there is a good chance that the plugs will not be the same as where you live.
More details on Amazon
There is a very good website to find out what the plugs will look like in any country in the world.
11 - A go pro (or something that records)
Some will say that it’s not necessary, but being able to film a hunting scene or something else is still quite nice, isn’t it? Anyway, I had nothing but my DSLR when I went on safari and I made it through.
A go pro for filming on safari – More details on Amazon
Since then, I recently bought a go pro 5 which allows me to film anything I want on land or underwater. It’s not pro equipment and you won’t make the same films as the ones on TV, we can both agree, but I would have liked to have it during my photo safari.
12 - A computer and a hard disk
This is one of the must-have photo safari accessories to take in your bag! Who would want to lose all those photos because they were left on the memory card all week and it malfunctioned? No one would! By the way, I have written an article about the different options for saving them while traveling.
On safari, the online backup will not be possible (limited access to the net and it’s very slow), but the backup onto a computer and a hard drive (2 backups) is a minimum to guarantee the safety of your photos.
13 - A multiple plug
I found this advice while searching on the net. And yes, it’s especially for people who already have trouble plugging different kinds of photo equipment at the same time (DSLR, go pro, compact, PC, etc.).
I didn’t have one, but considering how much little space it takes up, I won’t hesitate to take one on my next photo safari (yes, I’d like to do another one…but for now, from French Polynesia, it’s not on the agenda).
14 - Binoculars
Generally, for bird and animal, this is a very useful accessory to take on a photo safari. It will be particularly useful for bird watching but also and above all for spotting animals in the distance!
Binoculars for a photo safari – More details on Amazon
I’m not a specialist in binoculars, so I’ll let you look at the models here for example.
15 - A second camera body
Last in the list of all my suggested photo accessories, which maybe I should have put on first? It is of course a second camera body. Imagine the scene, a lion jumps in the car and snatches your camera (no I’m kidding). More seriously (and quite possible), your DSLR breaks down, for a random reason. If you only took one camera, you’ll only have yourself to blame in the end!
So, I advise everyone who goes on safari to take a second camera. You don’t have to have 2 pro ones, but consider taking a spare body anyway.
I hope that these top 15 accessories for a photo safari will help you to know what you should not forget for such a trip! If you have made such a trip already, what did you bring with you? Which one was the most useful? Of course, I also advise you to come and take a look at the essential photo accessories you need when travelling!
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See you soon,