The gear I take with me on game drives has been refined over 25 years here are my top five gear tips so you can also be well equipped, comfortable and organised at all times!
- Organisation:- The gear you need on game drives falls into two categories, stuff you need to access all the time and stuff you need to carry all the time, but probably will only need to use occasionally. For example, you are definitely going to need to access your binoculars and camera but probably won’t need your rain poncho or first aid kit on every outing. I separate out the stuff I know I will be using on every drive and pack it into a small toiletry style bag because they have multi pockets for organisation. This daily bag then lives in my backpack along with my camera, rain poncho, first aid kit, hat, kikoi and vacuum flask so when I’m headed out for a game drive, I only need to remember to grab my sunglasses and my backpack and I’m ready to rock and roll.
- Rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it:- In my daily bag I carry the following: chapstick, spare cards and batteries for my camera, a lens pen for cleaning my camera and binoculars, a pocket first aid kit, a headlamp flashlight, spare batteries, small bottle of sunscreen and insect repellant (I usually have a bigger bottle of both in my backpack), my binoculars and a spare pair of clear glasses in a hard case.
- Carry a second set of clear glasses:- I always carry a second set of clear glasses which I swap out for my sunglasses at dusk and dawn. They provide the same protection against flying bugs and dust but don’t restrict visibility because they have no tint. If you wear contact lenses consider choosing a pair that fit closer to your face, more like goggles, they might make you look like an extra on a Mad Max film but I promise you, they are a lifesaver on dusty game drives. Typically you can pick these up at any hardware or sporting goods store for about USD 10 and at the end of your safari, if you don’t have a use for them, you can gift them to your guides and they will love you forever!
- Pack a small stainless steel Vacuum Flask:- Another piece of kit I always carry is a small (25oz) insulated stainless steel vacuum flask so I can take some coffee with me on the game drive for a midmorning pick-me-up. A word of warning here, stick to a simple screw top design that will seal well, I am yet to come across a travel mug or flip top bottle that is up to challenge of a vigorously shaken bottle of hot coffee!!!!
- Add a strap and carabiner to your backpack:- An important addition I have made to my backpack is the addition of a strap and carabiner so I can secure my backpack upright. That way I know it’s not going to be bouncing around the floor, getting stood in the excitement of a sighting or worse still, falling out the truck and getting lost on the road. (Just in case you think this is a bit extreme this strap has saved me from losing my bag over the side twice!)
If you follow this system, when its time to head out on a game drive, all you need to do is grab one bag, fill your thermos with a hot beverage of your choice and hit the road. At the vehicle pick a seat, take out your camera, day bag and coffee and you can then stash your backpack securely, out of the way, without restricting access to any bits and pieces you might need over the next couple of hours. In short, you will be well equipped, uncluttered, comfortable, well caffeinated just like me- Safari Njema!
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