As many of you know we travelled to Tanzania, Africa on Safari for our honeymoon. Although we plan to do a mini-series of blog posts about our trip, we decided to also put together this post of our top tips for Safari holidays! Make sure to comment below if you've been on Safari or whether you're planning one soon!
Take warm clothes!
It sounds really silly, you're going to Africa... it's going to be hot right?? WRONG. Safari holidays have early starts, we're talking 5am starts. You may be in the middle of the Savannah but until the sun gets above the horizon, it's actually pretty cold. We both took hoodies with us and fortunately our car came fully stocked with fleeces and blankets for the unsuspecting tourist who wasn't expecting the cold (such as ourselves).
As it's quite chilly on those early mornings it's best to be prepared, you won't be able to take sharp photos if you're shivering!
Get a decent zoom!
Photography and videography is something close to our hearts. For that reason we chose a camera that had a 60X optical zoom, a Canon SX60 HS. Having such a large optical zoom enabled us to get those far away shots with great clarity, but also worked as a way to view the animals that were too far away for the naked eye (instead of binocs). The Black Rhino in the above picture was easily 200 metres away but our camera captured it amazingly!
A DSLR is a great idea but without a decent zoom it will be hard to capture most of the animals. Also, the animals move pretty quickly so you don't have much opportunity to mess about with changing lenses. A 'bridge camera' like the SX60 HS was a great 'point and shoot' without compromising the quality or zoom.
If you're into video like us, the SX60 HS wasn't so great in low light so we reverted back to our Canon G7X II which although doesn't have the zoom, creates crystal clear photos and video even in low light. This allowed one of us to photograph and one to video. Having two cameras (one each) also really enabled us to have the best opportunity to get the shot!
Another little tip - take your camera charger out with you. Most cars have camera chargers in them so make use during the driving moments to recharge so you're always ready to snap!
Take a Tripod
It doesn't matter how good your camera is or what zoom you have if you don't have a tripod. We discovered this within the first five minutes. Often the best chance to get THE photo is when the animals are at a distance.
You can zoom right in and capture the most amazing image but you'll be tensing every muscle in your body just to hold the camera still.. and lets face it, you're going to take more than one picture. A tripod is the perfect solution. Zoom in to get the shot and then let the tripod hold the camera steady so you can concentrate on the settings and capturing the shot.
Something else to consider is the size of tripod. It's easy to rest a small/medium sized tripod on the roof of the car like the above picture. If you have a really tall tripod it might actually be a hindrance to use it. We took a Manfrotto Compact Light Aluminium Tripod and definitely recommend it. This tripod is compact and light weight, ideal for carrying in your bag but also has extending legs for either a mini-sized of full-sized tripod.
Take easy on/off shoes
The Safari cars are all very similar with pop up roofs, enabling you to stand up on the floor or on the seat to take your photos. If you are short like me, have some easy slip on & off shoes so you can stand on the seats for extra height and a better vantage.
Standing on the seat also allowed me to balance the tripod and camera on the roof of the car, allowing us to capture some incredible (if i say so myself) photographs of 'the BIG FIVE'.
Getting a private car is definitely an added expense, no two ways about it! So get in that over-time now because this is DEFINITELY one of the best pieces of advice we were given!
The reason that going private is so great is that you're not subject to anyone else's requests. For example, if you're there for two days but join a different car on the second day, those people may not have seen the animals that you already did. They might request to stop to see those animals and if they're a bigger group than you they would have the majority vote. Going private allows you to specify what you're more interested in seeing so your guide can tailor the day to your hopes and expectations, this is a huge advantage!
You can also plan your own start times for the mornings. We were keen to have early starts as everyone recommends 'the earlier the better'. The same goes for leaving the Safari reserve for dinner, you can stay as long as possible if you wanted. It also allows you to be able to sit together in the car too rather than have to spread out with another group.
Another positive to being private means that you have access to all sides of the vehicle. If you're stopped at a pride of Lions that are on one side, you can move about to capture the best photograph angles.
Some groups want to head back to the lodge for lunch but you may prefer to have a packed lunch on the go (also a great recommendation from us). This way you don't miss out on any time in the reserve and have a better chance of seeing all of the BIG FIVE!
Get the right gear on
Something we didn't know before was to wear certain colours of clothing. Wearing dark colours, blacks and purples as well as bright blue is an absolute no no.
Tsetse flies are a large biting fly native to much of Africa and are attracted to these colours. That's the reason many people wear khaki and cream coloured clothing, not to mention it's lighter and therefore helps you remain cool in the heat of the day.
Sunglasses and hats are a MUST. The sun is really quite bright during the day and as you're looking out at all times for a sight of the animals, you definitely need sunglasses to prevent a headache by the end of the day.
A backpack is also a good idea, especially if you're carrying camera equipment. Each day we took out with us two cameras and two tripods, spare batteries and chargers as well as suncream and bottles of water, imagine having to lug all that to the car every day!
Bush Wee Tissues & Zip Locks
It goes without saying that there aren't any mobile toilets in the Game Reserves... but let us introduce you to the term 'bush wee'. The locals call it that, a quick step out of the car (after checking for Lions) to empty your bladder before continuing!
Of course, it's easier for the guys to manage than the ladies. Eve learned to always have a pack of tissues with her and a zip-lock bag so that she could dispose of 'used tissues' correctly back at the lodge rather than leave them in the reserve.
SO those are our top tips for a Safari Holiday! We hope you find them useful. Do let us know in the comments if you've ever been on or plan on going on Safari, also if you think we've missed anything important for others to know!
Thanks for reading, keep an eye out for a mini-series of honeymoon blog posts all about our Safari experience soon! x
Watch our Safari vlogs here: