Getting ready for my Safari trip
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redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I am going a Safari trip in about a month and would like to get some suggestion from anyone that has gone and could share some suggestions for the following:


Bean bag. I checked online and to be honest the prices are exorbitant it was suggested to me to take any type of bag with a zipper and then fill up there. I don't know if I'm going to have time for any shopping but beans, but at least I need some suggestions as to the type of case etc to take to rest the camer while on safari.

Camera wrap or cover. I have been using a spongy type of piece of material that is a square shape, but its rather small since I lost the piece that attaches to the four corner with velcro. To be honest its rather time consuming since you have to place the camera on top of it, then folded like putting a diaper. I don't think this would be too practical.

I don't carry a camera bag and will be taking only one lens with my 40D. Any suggestion. I was thinking taking a pillow case in order to protect it from dust and keep it inside my daypack.

Memory card case for SD and CF cards. Again I checked online and found junk. The pelican case has bad reviews besides too expensive. There's another one that hold over 20 cards but the reviews have been poor since the vinyl inserts are very fragile and break and besides they don't keep the cards in place.

I have been using a smal cas3 3 x 2" from logic with a zipper with 6 small sleeves that can hold 2 cards per sleeve w/o the plastic case, but I'd rather take a single one with easy access and secure. Any suggestions




Kartik P
Registered: Aug 01, 2007
Total Posts: 195
Country: United Arab Emirates

My safari experience is limited to trip in Indian Forests. You have not mentioned your destination, so it might be tough to advice anything specific.

Bean bag is the most useful form of support you have in Safari. If the available options are expensive, you can also use a DIY version. Tons of sites will give you instructions for it. However a well made bean bag will last you for a very long time. A good comparison of bean bags can be found at:

http://www.chobesafari.com/photography-tips/finding-the-perfect-photo-bean-bag-for-safari.html

Camera wrap/cover: I don't see a point in it. You can use a towel/garbage bag/pillowcase to cover your equipment while travelling through dusty conditions. Carry a garbage bag anyways, in case it rains.

I suggest you carry at least one wide-zoom and one telephoto lens. If possible a backup body as well (you can rent one). You did not mention what lens you are taking.

For CFcard holder, if you really need one, you can have a look at pixel pocket rocket. I generally rely on my camera bags pockets. Pocket rocket : http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/pixel-pocket-rocket-memory-card-holder.aspx

Hope that helped.

Cheers,
Kartik



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

Hi Kartik

I'm going to Kenya, Tanzania and ultimately Zanzibar. Now that you mentioned it, I kinda agree with you every time I go out its a drag trying to put the camera into this diaper. I have saved one of those zippered plastic case that comes with a set of bed sheets. I think that would be my case, I'll check the links you sent me later for the diy bean bag



VKM2F
Registered: Apr 19, 2012
Total Posts: 65
Country: Canada

In Tanzania and Kenya (I've been on safari to both), the bean bag is your best friend. You'll most likely be in a land rover/minibus with a pop top roof so you'll be able to rest the bean bag anywhere and it'll give you great stability.

I have the Kinesis safari sack (http://www.kgear.com/store/r/r420.html). It's only $30 and worth it. When you arrive in country, your guide will have no problem stopping at a grocery store so you can buy a few bags of beans to fill the bag. It's also nice to give the beans away at the end of the trip, too.

I know a lot of people worry about dust, but I never really had a problem. Especially if you're only bringing one lens and leaving it on the camera. I'd bring a rocket blower to give it a clean in the evenings and not worry anymore about it.

I'm going back to Tanzania in February. Can't wait! You're going to have a great time. It's an incredible experience.



EB-1
Registered: Jan 09, 2003
Total Posts: 22527
Country: United States

I've done a dozen or so safaris in Africa. On the first couple I tried homemade bags with less than desirable results. (The homemade bags are usually the ones spilling beans, or poorly attached, flying around or falling off, and generally unproductive.) Now I bring two Kinesis SafariSacks, one molar type bag and one floater bag. The straps on the Kinesis are great for securing to the vehicle (one on each side) and the molar type is used on the windows. Usually the driver guides will get beans for your bags. If that is not possible you can bring the bags fulled with buckwheat hulls of some other low density filler. If you are going with a group be advised that the SafariSacks are the de facto standard in beanbags, so several people may have them. Therefore I recommend labeling the bags clearly for identification.

Bringing only one camera on safari is not a good idea. (Normally I bring 3x1Ds III plus a 7D, but I'm not suggesting four bodies for you.) I've seen many dead or damaged bodies. As well the more lens changes made, the more missed shots and more dust in the cameras. On a 1.6x crop body the 100-400 would be the main lens and an 18-105 or something would be a second lens on a second body.

I do use a pillow case to cover the camera on the 500/4 sometimes, but more for a coverup than when shooting. It is is raining, then you should have plastic bags available.

EBH



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

VK

Im not dure id a Rocket blower is the can spray with air
I'm not sure if TSA at the airport would let me go trough

I've had my share of bad luck at he airport

The price for he bean bag doesn't look that bad if I do get it
I hope I could find the beans . Maybe I should let the safari
Co in NBO that I'd need to make a quick stop

Bk

I will be willing to take he risk but don't care to take xtra weight
Im one of those tha never check in and travel ver light

However I'm taking a point and shoot that shoots RAW but not
with a long lens. I will use it for my non safari shots or back up

By the way , I'm taking 55G in mem cardsfor my DSL and 48G for
my small camera. I wish my budget could let me buy more
Do you guys think I could get by with what I'm taking

I will not bring a laptop not ven a phone or storage so will keep
all images in the cards



EB-1
Registered: Jan 09, 2003
Total Posts: 22527
Country: United States

On a good trip in Kenya when there are crossings I capture an average of 1000 shots per game drive, and that was mainly shooting with relatively slow cameras. Tanzania is usually less productive, though special in its own way. My averages have not been less than 500/drive in modern times. HTH.

EBH



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I am going on a short safari in Kenya only 4 nights, whereas in Tanzania I'm going 6 nites 7 days. I guess I'd have to be a bit more stingy with my shots and at night review on the camera the shots of the day and delete as I go along.

The only thing I'm looking forward in TZN is Sarangeti, and Tarangere.
Normally whenever I travel I take blank CDs then go to a local cyber cafe and transfer them, but not in Africa. As I said the idea of schlepping around a laptop makes me cringe. I checked the other options like the Epson data storage/viewer but very expensive.

That's why I am looking for an organizer for my mem cards in order to keep them in order. However, I think I'm going write a number ahead of time in or maybe as I go along but not sure if I'd have the time. Also, confirme this since both of you have a lot more experience than I do.

I've been told not to get too caught up in trying to shoot and not enjoy the safari by looking w/o looking thru the view finder and use my binoculars instead, which it would be hard to control the urge, lol

I'm planning to go to the big local zoo here at home in a couple of days to test the meter, on some of the animals



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

One more thing about the bean bag. Can you tell me about how many pounds of beans or buckwheat did you have to get when you arrived in Africa.

I just checked the Kinesis's website and I'm not sure if I understood it right. Poly beads requires about 6lbs to fill it, and buckwheat only 1lbs 10oz



Naranek
Registered: May 25, 2010
Total Posts: 66
Country: United States

Rather than a pillow case and garbage bag you might want to consider a dry sack such as those made by Outdoor Research or Sea to Summit. One would provide better dust protection than a pillow case and would simulaneously protect against rain. If you doin't roll the closure all the way down the mechanism provides a handy carry handle.

They can be found in various sizes at most camping stores. This example is one by Sea to Summit at REI:
http://www.rei.com/product/766592/sea-to-summit-evac-dry-sack



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

Dang it, why I didn't think of that. I got a whole bunch of those, thanks a great idea. You guys rock



EB-1
Registered: Jan 09, 2003
Total Posts: 22527
Country: United States

redbarn wrote:
One more thing about the bean bag. Can you tell me about how many pounds of beans or buckwheat did you have to get when you arrived in Africa.

I just checked the Kinesis's website and I'm not sure if I understood it right. Poly beads requires about 6lbs to fill it, and buckwheat only 1lbs 10oz


That sounds about right. The poly beads they sell are rather dense IIRC, but some are lighter. You would bring the bag full of buckwheat hulls OR get beans locally. If unsure about availability, the former is safer.

EBH



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

thanks, well I have to decide to take a chance to see if I could have the means to buy the beans before leaving to the safari. I'll be picked up about 8 Am and land at 2 AM not too much time ..... but also the idea of taking that extra bulk with my carryon



VKM2F
Registered: Apr 19, 2012
Total Posts: 65
Country: Canada

Redbarn,

I promise you'll have no problem grabbing some beans for your beanbag after you're picked up at the airport. Don't bother carrying them all the way there! Safari is big business where you're going and your guide will probably be very familiar with the idea of filling up bean bags. Heck, some operators even provide beanbags for you.



sperraglia
Registered: Oct 22, 2002
Total Posts: 978
Country: United States

Our Kenya safari guide provided bean bags for us and they assured us if we wanted to stop and fill our empty bean bags it was no problem. We saw one group whose guides had a big bag they they all filled their bean bags from. Don't worry about being able to get the bags filled there. They stop for bathroom and snacks so no trouble stopping for beans.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

You were absolutely coorect

U contactes the tour operator to arrange
to make a stop on the way to the store.
But I also asked if they could get it for me
ahead of time

And sure enuf the will buy it for me prior
to my arrival . All they need is the amount

Thanks for the heads up



Celbrett
Registered: Apr 24, 2008
Total Posts: 329
Country: United States

What lens are you planning to take?

From what I understand, having the reach of a longer lens (to 400mm) is useful in Kenya & Tanzania as well as shorter lengths for when the lions sit on your hood .



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I know I might be limiting my range but I don't want to carry a long lens, nor do I want to spend the money even renting a lens. Contrary what some people take I'm only taking one lens 18-270 Tamaron and that suits me fine.

I travel alone will be going to Zanzibar alone and for sure I don't want to schlepping around such a heavy gear, nor dealing with trying to find a place to store because I'm planning using my point in shoot for my non safari shots that shoots RAW. It has always worked.

And that's one of the reason that I'm not taking a notebook, or laptop. I need to figuring out a plan for my memory cards. I was thinking taking a pocket size HD and hopefully I could find a laptop or a PC to transf if not I'll be very careful how many shots I shoot
.



JBPhotog
Registered: Oct 10, 2007
Total Posts: 552
Country: Canada

Get the Kinesis Safari Sack, buckled strap to loop around the rail on your Toyota LC so it doesn't fall off and two side straps to keep the 'A' shape for support. Without the bag you won't get sharp images.

Don't worry about hauling fill for it until you get in country and rice works just fine too. You will need @ 4.5 kilos of rice to get the right fill ratio, too much and the bag won't conform, too little and it doesn't offer support. You can buy a 5 kilo bag and give the remainder away. Also your guide will take you to a local store to buy the rice and will gladly take it off you hands when you head home.

BTW, been to Kenya and Tanzania a few times and dust isn't an issue if you use a bit of common sense. Take a microfiber cloth, face cloth type, to do a wet wipe of the outer body and lens after each days safari. Take proper lens cleaning tools and fluids you need to do a clean everyday.

As far as memory card holder, nah, get some sandwich freezer Zip-Lock bags and removable sticky orange dots from a stationary store. Full cards go in one zip bag and gets its own orange dot so you don't try to load it in the camera twice. Pretty much all cards come in a small plastic case, use these for protection inside the zip bag. Almost all card storage containers won't let you use this case and a zip bag is cheap and water tight, take a few spares.



redbarn
Registered: Mar 20, 2011
Total Posts: 132
Country: United States

I have to admit after I looked at the link that Naranek sent me I changed my mind from going DIY to getting one already made by professionals. Also, you saw what I said about contacting the Safari operators. They will be glad to get the beans all I need to send them is the amount the need to get.

Do you think rice would be better than beans? Yes, I'm taking several microfiber cloth. I also use one of those women's make up brushes to dust off the body and lens. But I don't think I'd be taking any type of compressed air. I don't want TSA to get the benefit of a free can at my expense. Do you have any other suggestion for daily maintenance.

Now that is what I call creativity using Ziplock bags with sticky orange dots, duh..... Why didn't I think of that. Another thing, I am taking several types of SD and CF cards. How can you select the right card for the specific setting or subjects. I always take extra ziplock bags of different sizes.

I don't want to be so consumed in shooting and missing all whole experience. I'm not too much of a videographer, but wouldn't mind taking some videos and of course I have some faster cards. How did you handle it?

I also decided to add more to my arsenal even though I have been fighting not to do it. I'm packing very very light but today I decided to get a netbook with 350G. I now can use my portable HD and will be transferring my images, and will end up with double back ups, and as a token will be gaining memory without buying more memory cards.

The netbook will add another 3lbs.



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