Home · Register · Software · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username  

FM Forum Rules
Nature & Wildlife Posting Guidelines
  

FM Forums | Nature & Wildlife | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       3       4       end
  

Shipping gear for African safaris
  
 
plnelson
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Shipping gear for African safaris


I just back from Antarctica where I got some great photos, but the stress of trying to meet the carry-on weight limits forced me to leave some lenses home that I really wanted, and also forced me to BUY a lens in Ushuaia at a highway robbery price because I had an equipment failure and no redundancy in that focal length range!

Antarctica was my 6th continent, with only Africa remaining, so naturally I want to go there next and do it as a serious photo expedition.

The longest lens I brought to Antarctica was 300mm and that was adequate because I was often shooting handheld from a moving ship, or carrying ashore in a Zodiac and all the wildlife is either very close (I had more problems with penguins being INSIDE my close focusing distance than too far - we're supposed to stay 5m from the wildlife but they didn't get the memo) or HUGE - I got fantastic shots of whales, and Great Petrels in flight which overfilled the frame at 300mm and I had to shoot with a 200 at times to get the shot I wanted.

But for Africa I want bigger glass - fast 500, 600, maybe 800mm?, sturdy tripods, and FULL REDUNDANCY - two of everything that's important - bodies and focal lengths. When I add it up I can't see my kit coming in at less than 40-50 pounds, not counting the tripods.

So obviously carry-on is out of the question and I'll have to ship my gear to the safari operator. How common is this, how easy is it to arrange, and does it restrict or limit where I can plan to go? Since this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, money will not be my top consideration (obviously).

Please, answers from experience or direct knowledge only. Thanks in advance.



Mar 19, 2017 at 09:31 PM
WildImages
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Been to Africa over 30 times. You do not need to consider shipping however if you do, use DHL.

If you take two bodies, a 17-40, 24-105, 100-400, a 500 and both 1.4 and 2X telextenders, you will be more than covered. All this fits in a Lowepro rolling backpack along with small laptop that is currently accepted by Delta, KLM, South African Air, United, Ethiopian Air, Emirates and you name it.

I only recommend hand carrying. Shipping with certainty is always iffy.

YMMV but that is my story as I have experienced it.



Mar 19, 2017 at 10:06 PM
plnelson
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Shipping gear for African safaris


WildImages wrote:
Been to Africa over 30 times. You do not need to consider shipping however if you do, use DHL.

If you take two bodies, a 17-40, 24-105, 100-400, a 500 and both 1.4 and 2X telextenders, you will be more than covered. Shipping with certainty is always iffy.


Yes, but I want full redundancy, so I'd have to double all that. My experience going to Antarctica is that an equipment failure can leave a hole in my focal length range and cause undue stress

Also I avoid telextenders because they rob me of f-stops - up to 300 I don't want anything less than f/2.8 and over that f/4. I have a TC 14EIII that I use in a pinch but it doesn't work with all my lenses (including my 24-70 f/2.8) (I don't have the 17-40 f/2.8 - does it fit that? Nikon's TC's generally don't fit their shorter zooms) and it slightly reduces sharpness and contrast.

What I'd consider doing is traveling with one kit and shipping an identical kit as backup. But I'd still have to get my travel kit to < 22 pounds (10 kg) which is the carry-on weight limit on most international business-class flights, and considering that the 500mm f/4 itself weighs 9 pounds. A 100-400 (-ish) zoom is too slow for me, so I'd probably use the 300 f/2.8 VR which is 7 pounds. So right there I'm up to 16 pounds without any other lenses, bodies, batteries, or other travel essentials like medicines, etc, not to mention the carrying case/backpack to put it in.

So I think shipping is a given and the question is how to do it and which photo-safari outfits are used to it so they can handle it smoothly?





Mar 19, 2017 at 10:55 PM
eyelaser
Offline
• • • • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Just a suggestion....buy an extra seat on the small plane and you will double your carry on allowance...may not be cheaper (but not exorbitant) but certainly safer than shipping. (I have done this myself although I have never had an issue in Africa despite carrying well over 40lbs of gear)
Eric



Mar 20, 2017 at 12:14 AM
plnelson
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Shipping gear for African safaris


eyelaser wrote:
Just a suggestion....buy an extra seat on the small plane and you will double your carry on allowance...may not be cheaper (but not exorbitant) but certainly safer than shipping.


What do you mean by "the small plane"? Wouldn't you have to do it on ALL the planes? The international business class carry on weight limit on most airlines is 10 kg (22 pounds). There is no major transatlantic airline that would let me carry-on 50 pounds and I don't want to be lugging that much around an airport anyway.

BA Boston to Cape Town return flight can probably be had for $10K. Instead of buying a second seat at that price and lugging 50 pounds around the airport wouldn't it be cheaper to ship half of it?

I have never had an issue in Africa despite carrying well over 40lbs of gear)
Eric


How do you account for this, considering that's well over the limit and I've personally seen someone forced to check a bag for being over 10kg at Heathrow? Have you just been lucky? Since I'm trying to plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip I want to maximise the odds of success and minimise the odds of things going pear-shaped.

A belt-and-suspenders approach seems like a good way to do it - have two kits - ship one carry the other. So my question is about whether photo-safari operators can handle this and whether some countries are better for shipping than others.






Mar 20, 2017 at 12:41 AM
GregWCIL
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Shipping gear for African safaris


If you can afford two $10,000 business class flights and to buy an extra $20,000 of gear just to save yourself a stressful situation, you'd better also buy an extra Landrover or two in case one breaks down. And better book two safari operators in case one is late. Heck, just take a private jet and forego all those pesky luggage limits.


Mar 20, 2017 at 03:35 AM
lowside67
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Shipping gear for African safaris


plnelson wrote:
How do you account for this, considering that's well over the limit and I've personally seen someone forced to check a bag for being over 10kg at Heathrow? Have you just been lucky? Since I'm trying to plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip I want to maximise the odds of success and minimise the odds of things going pear-shaped.

A belt-and-suspenders approach seems like a good way to do it - have two kits - ship one carry the other. So my question is about whether photo-safari operators can handle this and whether some countries are better for shipping than others.

I have carried a well over 10kg pelican case full of camera gear on several trips to Africa, connecting in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It is my experience that while traveling in business or first class, even with an obviously overweight bag, it was never weighed.

The chances of you having a carry on bag rejected (which would just end up on it being gate checked) are much lower than having problems trying to ship expensive camera gear to East Africa. (This pertains to international travel - not the local flights within the countries in East Africa such as Nairobi to the Mara or Serengeti). On those local flights, your bags will be weighed with 100% certainty, but you can simply buy an additional seat and absorb their baggage allowance, it is not expensive and is frequently done by photographers and tour companies.

If you are traveling to somewhere developed like South Africa you may be able to ship gear (although why would you - you could rent it there), but for places like the Serengeti, Masai Mara, etc. there is no "safe" place to ship the gear to. You could try to perhaps a hotel in Nairobi, but run a lot of risk with that, and more importantly - you will still have to fly to the lodge from Nairobi and that is likely to be the tightest weight restriction on the whole trip.

Mark



Mar 20, 2017 at 04:12 AM
Genes Home
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Shipping gear for African safaris


I'm not the visitor that "wildimages" is, my trips have been multiple times to South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Botswana. Never found a need for the type of redundancy you are talking about. Nor do I know of any outfitters or guides for photo safaris that operate with it.

However.........you will get much more specific and useful info if you provide the group with some more detailed information.........Where are you going, for how long? What is your anticipated itenerary and how will you get from place to place. Which wildlife do you want to focus on? How many people will be with you in your vehicles (this is a BIG consideration affecting your equipment load)? These need to be defined at least 6 months in advance, especially if you don't already have an outfitter lined up. The guy I use works only with small groups (9 or less) in South and East Africa, does very limited travel (no more than 2 locations in 10 days) and is already booking reservations for 2018.

FYI, my current load out for Mala Mala/Sabi Sand reserves and Mashatu or Phinda in South Africa and for Tanzania/Kenya on the Masai Mara is shown below. I have never needed more power (except occassionally for birds in flight or at long distance), as the game guides and rangers will position you for photography, as close or distant as you need to be, constrained only by geography and plant growth (well, at least on those private reserves where you can work off road - very rare these days).

D810 with 80-400 zoom
D810 with 24-85 zoom
D500 with 70-200 zoom and 1.4 teleconverter (spare, and have never used it to date)
a pair of SB910 flashes (you will be out past sunset most days)
tripod - especially useful in South Africa's open land rovers
empty sand bags for everywhere else
normal odds and ends

I normally split my gear between my carry-on and my personal bag and have never had any issues with any of the airlines I have used (South African can be a headache at times, though).

Give us more info and well return the favor, I think.

General answers to your questions, though, look like this: Your outfitter/guide will tell you what your weight load and equipment load should be, and what's acceptable to him. Some will be flexible for a price. Shipping to a fixed location in South or East Africa should be by DHL, will be VERY expensive, and should generally be aimed at arriving at your first destination, only if that is a private reserve. DHL can tell you specifically what the risks are for specific locations and destinations. Prices and insurance will vary quite a bit based on their risk factors.

You need to get an agenda planned asap and start talking to photo tour operators now if you want to go in 2018.

In South Africa and Namibia you do have an alternative of self driving in a rental vehicle (get a 4wd and stay away from all the major cities). I spent nearly 4 weeks with 3 other idiots in 2013 doing this in South Africa. Anyplace else you are most literally taking your life in your hands, especially Kenya at present.

later,

Gene



Mar 20, 2017 at 04:26 AM
WildImages
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Not sure if I made myself clear. I only use telextenders on my 500 but mostly you are close to subjects and do not need to use the extenders. The exception could be birds.

Not sure if you were being serious about a telextender on a 17-40 or not. I have personally never tried an extender on anything but super telephotos.

You have plenty of light in Africa so you do not have to worry about robbed f-stops.

One other thing I might point out. Some safaris pack 6 and 7 people in a vehicle. This type of trip is impossible to do justice photographically to what you might see. On other safaris there are only 2 or 3 people in a vehicle and each has a row across meaning you shoot unobstructed on either side of the vehicle, usually a stretch Toyota or Land Rover.

If you plan on taking so much gear that you have to ship some, room in a vehicle is starting to come into play.

Whatever happens, good luck and have fun.



Mar 20, 2017 at 12:07 PM
braam
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Shipping gear for African safaris


FYI: I returned 3 weeks ago from Kenya. Upon return at Nairobi international airport I was stopped at check in for my 23 kg of hand carried photographic equipment in economy class. The first time this has happened in 30+ trips. Nice talk and negotiation and it all came with me, but it does indicate that airlines (in this case KLM) are becoming more attentive to carry on weight.

PS. Next time my wife is coming along to share the carry on weight.



Mar 20, 2017 at 12:34 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



eyelaser
Offline
• • • • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Shipping gear for African safaris


braam wrote:
FYI: I returned 3 weeks ago from Kenya. Upon return at Nairobi international airport I was stopped at check in for my 23 kg of hand carried photographic equipment in economy class. The first time this has happened in 30+ trips. Nice talk and negotiation and it all came with me, but it does indicate that airlines (in this case KLM) are becoming more attentive to carry on weight.

PS. Next time my wife is coming along to share the carry on weight.


Ah, "negotiations"...sounds like someone wanted to be a member of the dead president's club😏
Eric



Mar 20, 2017 at 12:42 PM
arbitrage
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Shipping gear for African safaris


There must be some rental businesses set up in Africa, no? Maybe renting your redundant kit would be a better option.

What are your actual plans for your main and redundant kits? Are you actually considering duplicates of every lens and body, or just some overlapping focal lengths?

If you use a backpack type of camera bag then I wouldn't worry about the weight on the big planes to get to Africa. Over filled planes target all the rolling bags first on boarding. If you are in first/business I don't think they would ever hassle you no matter what as long as you met the dimensional requirements to fit the bag in the bin or under the seat. I would find out if you are on smaller planes within Africa because shipping redundant kits isn't going to help with that and you may have to take Eric's advice and buy the extra seat on the small plane.



Mar 20, 2017 at 01:52 PM
plnelson
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Shipping gear for African safaris


braam wrote:
FYI: I returned 3 weeks ago from Kenya. Upon return at Nairobi international airport I was stopped at check in for my 23 kg of hand carried photographic equipment in economy class. The first time this has happened in 30+ trips. Nice talk and negotiation and it all came with me, but it does indicate that airlines (in this case KLM) are becoming more attentive to carry on weight.


Exactly. I'm not willing to risk the trip of a lifetime to whether the gate agent had an argument with their spouse that morning so decides to crack down on weights, so I will only travel safely within the letter of the rules. And anyway, for a trip of a lifetime so I want full redundancy at all focal lengths, which means that whatever my long fast lens turns out to be (e.g., a 600mm f/4?) I want two of them, ship one carry the other.

I just talked to Nat Geo this morning about their photo safaris and they said they handle requests for shipment routinely, so that seems to be a good, low stress solution.




Mar 20, 2017 at 04:10 PM
plnelson
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Shipping gear for African safaris


arbitrage wrote:
There must be some rental businesses set up in Africa, no? Maybe renting your redundant kit would be a better option.


Oh, right. In a country where I've never been and don't speak the language and don't have a rental car, and where another word for "tourist" is "easy mark" I'm going to find a place to rent and then return professional photo gear?

What are your actual plans for your main and redundant kits? Are you actually considering duplicates of every lens and body, or just some overlapping focal lengths?

Full duplicates would be safer so that's what I'm thinking. Right now I'm thinking my 20 f/1.8, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8 VR, 300 F/2.8 VR (these I have) and some longer fast glass (500 or 600 f/4?), and then buying or renting in the US an exact duplicate kit. One kit travels with me one kit gets shipped.

I'm a senior widower with no kids so I can spend my money freely and I can't take it with me so I'm not going to sweat the cost if it buys me peace of mind. I called Nat Geo this morning and they said they routinely handle requests from photographers for shipping gear for their photo safaris.






Mar 20, 2017 at 04:23 PM
plnelson
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Genes Home wrote:
D810 with 80-400 zoom
D810 with 24-85 zoom
D500 with 70-200 zoom and 1.4 teleconverter (spare, and have never used it to date)
a pair of SB910 flashes (you will be out past sunset most days)
tripod - especially useful in South Africa's open land rovers
empty sand bags for everywhere else
normal odds and ends


What do you do if your 80-400 breaks? I had a Nikkor fail on me on my recent Antarctica trip and I didn't have redundancy because of weight limits and LUCKILY there was a store in Ushuaia where, at highway robbery prices, I could buy a replacement before getting on the boat but I've learned my lesson. Equipment fails and I want to be ready. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Are you talking the f/4.5-5.6G ED VR? That's already a pretty slow lens and most zooms give their best optical performance stopped down at least one from wide-open. So at 400 you're talking f/8 in practice for best results. So now you have less control of DOF and fewer options for really fast-moving subjects like birds in flight.





Mar 20, 2017 at 04:41 PM
plnelson
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Shipping gear for African safaris


lowside67 wrote:
I have carried a well over 10kg pelican case full of camera gear on several trips to Africa, connecting in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It is my experience that while traveling in business or first class, even with an obviously overweight bag, it was never weighed.


But that sounds like trusting to luck; you're basing the whole success of your trip on whether a gate agent was having a good day, or just got yelled at by their wife or boss. I want to wrap this up more tightly than that.

As far as buying another seat, someone on FM suggested this for my Antarctica trip too but didn't have any details and when I contacted my airline they had no idea of any such arrangement. But as I said, equipment fails so I want redundancy, and a fully redundant kit would be awfully heavy to lug through an airport.

I've already been in touch with one tour operator who routinely handles shipment and that was just the first one I contacted, so there must be plenty of others.




Mar 20, 2017 at 04:50 PM
lowside67
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Shipping gear for African safaris


plnelson wrote:
Oh, right. In a country where I've never been and don't speak the language and don't have a rental car, and where another word for "tourist" is "easy mark" I'm going to find a place to rent and then return professional photo gear?


I don't understand - you continue to ask for help in various threads and then continue to dismiss people for either not having enough "real" experience or respond with sarcastic answers.

You have still yet to tell us where in Africa you are intending to go. If you are going to somewhere like South Africa, there is absolutely a "real" company that speaks English that has as much professional rental gear as pretty much any North American company. ODP is the South African equivalent of B&H and is highly reputable and reliable. https://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/rentals

***

In response to your comment to mine above - what exactly do you think is the worst case scenario if they were to weigh your gear and found it overweight? It's not that it doesn't come with you, it's that it gets gate checked.

There is a very small chance that you would even have your gear weighed, and then an even smaller chance that they would not allow it onboard if overweight, and then an even smaller chance yet that if it was gate checked it would somehow not come back. All in all, you are talking about an extremely small probability.

You have freely admitted that money is not the concern and with the amount of money you are spending on renting and shipping a complete duplicate of gear, it seems that you could skip all this headache and if something was to happen - you could either adjust your trip or buy some gear in Africa. It's not easy, but it can be done, and the odds of what you are describing happening are crazy low.

Professional wildlife photographers whose entire means of living are these trips travelling to far more remote locations than you are going still do not bring complete double kits of gear. I genuinely think you are overestimating the possibility of a problem given your previous experience.

But that's just my $0.02, and I hope it's helpful.

Mark



Mar 20, 2017 at 06:06 PM
Genes Home
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Shipping gear for African safaris


Me again........1. re the f/stop of the 80-400. Yes its the current version. For the last 4 years I have routinely and successfully shot it at ASA 100-400, F-5.6 to F8 at shuter speeds at and exceeding 1/1250, even in the brushveldt. Early morning and evening till I mount the flash I amp up to ASA 1600. The D810 doesn't show any real noise at that level till enlargements exceed 3x4 feet. Have a 4x5 elephant framed on my wall shot at sunset at ASA 1000 and no-one that's seen it can guess the ASA rating.

.....2. If it breaks, depending on where I am, there are superb photo stores in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. I can always pay someone from the camp to drive or fly out to get a new one while I use my backup lens (and the 70-200 with the 1.4x gives me a VERY sharp 280mm).

Again, I would like to say - where are you going, what are you shooting, who are you shooting with, how long to you intend to be there? I understand that Nat Geo is someone you talked to. Did you ask them how many people are in each vehicle, and how much travel time you have on the trip between locations? Their trips are almost exclusively aimed at groups of people making a new location every other day with 6 or more folks in a vehicle. They are not, in my estimation, photo safaris or workshops. You want only 3 (max 4 if one is a non-photographer) in your vehicle.

Best Wishes.

Gene



Mar 20, 2017 at 09:04 PM
marcy45
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Shipping gear for African safaris


I had my camera (2)bodies in my back pack with 16-35 and 24-105 - had a pelican case with my 500 and 70-200
was able to carry on both of these to NY - when got to KLM to go to Amsterdam had to check my Pelican but did not worry - very rugged - It got dropped 2x not by the Air lines but by the people loading our land rover - still no problem - did this two times to Tanzania - some of the guys we were with had much more equipment and big backpacks they lugged on board - had to pay (bribe) extra when leaving Rwanda for extra weight to carry on - I am not sure what the allowance is now - but I understand that they are cracking down on big carry on's -
My husband also carried a back pack with extra stuff too - packed a small light weight tripod in suitcase -



Mar 20, 2017 at 09:24 PM
Bobg657
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Shipping gear for African safaris


So if Nat Geo will handle shipping for you, what's the problem at hand? Will they handle shipping from home to Africa or just within Africa?


Mar 20, 2017 at 10:25 PM
1
       2       3       4       end






FM Forums | Nature & Wildlife | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       3       4       end
    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username     Reset password