For most wildlife photographers, its at the top of the bucket list. Here's how to plan your excursion
What to Bring
You’ll be schlepping whatever you bring through several airports, and connecting flights may have erratic weight restrictions. So pack light. Still, some things you can’t do without. The photographers I talked with suggest:
-A primary DSLR body plus backup.
-Enough batteries to last one long day in the field. Most camps have electricity (you’ll need an adapter plug).
-Memory, and lots of it.
-A laptop and/or portable hard drives.
-Compact video camera (Norton carries a Panasonic HDC-TM700 in his vest pocket).
-Shooting vest. This may be the one place you won’t look like a dork in one.
-Beanbags for roof shooting (bring them empty—you can fill them there).
-Tripod. It should be light but sturdy.
-Teleconverters and close-up extension tubes.
-Zipper bags. It’s dusty, so bring a lot.
-Lenses. You’ll need long telephotos, wide-angles, and a macro lens.
Your Tent Awaits
Safari accommodations can be pretty cozy. “We have a great camp staff and they do all of the cooking for you—there’s wine and beer around the campfire in the evening,” says Norton. Camps offer tents and comfy beds, as well as private showers and toilets.
Expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per person for a 14-day trip—and that’s ground only. International airfares are additional and run between $2,000 to $3,000 round-trip. Over-the-top luxury outfitters such as Micato Safaris (www.micato.com) cost more.
Ready to invest? Here are some solid safari's to consider:
EASTERN, CENTRAL, AND SOUTHERN AFRICA:
Eyes on Africa Extensive Trips to Botwsana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and more. Photo workshops led by noted pro James Weis. (www.eyesonafrica.net)
Good Earth Tours Thirty years in safaris. Offers 3- to 15-day journeys in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. (www.goodearthtours.com)
African Photographic Safaris Small-group photo safaris, led by wildlife shooter Stu Porter. Tours in Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania. (www.wild4photographicsafaris.com)
Boyd Norton’s Wilderness Photography More than 27 years of safari experience. Trips are scheduled for Jan. and Feb. 2012. (www.wildernessphotography.com/tanzania.htm)
Thompson Safaris Includes Kilimanjaro expeditions. More than 30 years of safari experience; all guides have at least 10. Custom trips available. (www.thomsonsafaris.com)
William Cowger’s Photo Safaris and Workshops Primarily 14-day safaris in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, and Serengeti regions lead by photographer William Cowger. (www.thephotosafari.com)
Joseph Van Os Safaris 2012 tours include rare visits to Ethiopia wildlife refuges, Kenya, and Rwanda for mountain gorillas. (www.photosafaris.com)
Micato Safaris Luxe all the way. Botswana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Victoria Falls, and more—by Learjet if necessary. (www.micato.com)
Jeff Wignall is a contributing editor to this publication and author of The NEW Joy of Digital Photography and other photo books.