6 Wildlife safari hacks

When you go on a safari, there are certain essentials you should take. Your camera, lenses, spare batteries and memory cards being the bare bones necessities, but there are few other items I will always take with me that can be exceptionally useful. Here are my 6 top wildlife safari hacks. I would love to take credit for coming up with all of these, but I did not...  So, I have to the best of my memory, referenced who I got this advice from (in brackets).

If you have any others, please let me know in the comments below. :)

I. A Towel (Shaaz Jung/Douglas Adams)

Anyone who knows the Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy will contest to the universal usefulness of a good towel for interstellar travel on the cheap. Likewise, I find a towel to be the most singularly useful and versatile safari accessory. It has many uses....  and this is by no means an exhaustive list:

  • Bean bag / padding for your camera - Forgot your beanbag...  no problem, fold up your towel and you have a safe rest for your camera, at a fraction of the weight.
  • A cover for your camera - things getting dusty/wet? no problem, through your towel over your gear and it will stay safe.
  • Uncomfortable seat? Use your towel as padding.
  • It can even give you more lumbar support when rolled up and placed behind your back.
  • It can be used as a blanket when cold...
  • ... and a sun shade if hot!
  • When things get bumpy, use it to pad around you camera to protect if from bumps and bangs.
  • Want to change your lens but it is very dusty? Do it under your towel to reduce dust entering your camera.
  • Too bright to ogle your amazing shot, throw the towel over your head to get a great view of your LCD! This is also great to take a smartphone pic of your LCD to share your shot with your friends.
  • Wrap it around your face to avoid breathing in dust.
  • Wet it and put it on your head if you are getting too hot.
  • Keep your drinks hot/cold by wrapping them in the towel, and insulating them from the outside.
  • And of course, you can use it to dry oneself when wet!

The biggest bonus of a towel is, even if you forget to bring your own, you can usually borrow one from the place you are staying!!! So next time you see someone heading to the jeep carrying a towel...  you know that they know their stuff.


II. A hat / cap (Me, but I know a lot of people do it)

A real lens cap!

This is an obvious one, with obvious uses on your head...  keep the sun out of your eyes, keep you warm, give you shade etc...  but I often find I use my cap as much as a lens cap as I do on my head. The peak of the cap makes it easy to remove when you need to shoot quickly, and gives the front element some protection from dust.


III. Shower caps (Mohan Thomas)

Shower caps have always been one of these items I see in hotel rooms and never ever used. That was until I went on a jeep safari. It turns out these tiny compact free-bee has some great uses.

  • It makes a brilliant emergency lens caps. The elastic 'head band' fits around large lenses perfectly.
  • Camera protector. It is about the same size as a standard DSLR, so you can wrap it around your camera if you encounter some extreme weather, adding an additional layer of protection.
  • Make a usable small bin bag too. Put your rubbish in the cap, wrap it up, and put it safe. No risk of biscuit wrappers blowing off into the jungle.
  • And of course, it can also be used to keep your head dry if there is an unexpected downpour. :)

IV. Power bank (Me + internet)

Given our digital dependency, having an extra source of power is always good, and I tend to always have one with me. On top of the obvious phone charging capabilities, there is another great use for one. I have previously spoken about things you can do to keep shooting when you are running low in battery charge. Well, a power bank with a 9V output is sufficient to power your camera. This can be done by using a wired battery to power your DSLR directly, or attach a battery charger and make sure your spare battery is always ready to go.


    V. Swiss army knife or equivalent (Ashish Parmer)

    These are just generally useful items, but I have found them particularly useful on safari. Once, the mounting plate of a guys lens came loose. Instead of killing his safari, a quick screw tightening with the swiss-army knife and the lens was patched up and ready to go. However, a truly critical use of them is as bottle openers... this alone makes it worth having it;)


    VI. Ad hoc camera protection

    Decathlon has a great selection of bag covers that work well for your camera gear as well. :)

    Decathlon has a great selection of bag covers that work well for your camera gear as well. :)

    If for some reason you can't get or take a towel on safari with you, here are some other great alternative items you can use to give your camera some added protection from the elements:

    • Laundry bag - available in your resort and fits most camera/lens combos. (Mohan Thomas)
    • Pillow cases too offer protection from dust. (Mohan Thomas)
    • Bag covers - if you bag has a weather proofing cover, it can also be wrapped around your camera too. You can even buy these covers separately. (Vishwa Kiran)

    The bottom line

    • Always take a towel with you :)

    If you have any other useful suggestions, let us know in the comments below! :)


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