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Africa is one of those locations that is on almost every photographers list, and for good reason. Everything from sprawling deserts to rugged coast and dense jungle on one continent, sometimes even within one country, coupled with wildlife galore. Here are some things that I would recommend if you’re planning a trip to Africa:

1. Pack a long lens. Careful filtering of the data recorded with images in a piece of software reveals that nearly 80% of most people’s images are taken with lenses of 300mm focal length or above. A wide-angle zoom is probably a good idea as well, but don’t forget the big one!

2. Pack light! This is probably a no-brainer but many people over-pack for safaris when many times the company will provide heavier, hard to carry things like bean-bags to stabilize your camera (check to make sure). Smaller planes often have strict weight limits.

3. Take more cards. No matter how many gigs of memory you have now, I would increase it by 1/3 before you go to Africa. Trust me.

4. Get a good guide. If you’re planning your own trip, ask around for a good guide when you get there or preferably before you go. Many National Geographic photographers’ best shots resulted not from their own knowledge but usually a good local guide.
5. Look for different shots.** There’s a good chance someone has shot that cheetah lounging in a tree. Look down at the ground for that stag beetle or back up and include the jeep or your drivers in the shot. Different is good!
—Matthew Panzarino
Contributing Blogger