Though many people are reluctant to entertain the notion of tent camping in the African bush, if done correctly and by experienced guides, the tent camping safari is safe and can be the most rewarding for the participants. There are few experiences that are more idyllic, on the one hand, and exciting, on the other, as lying in a cot in a tent and listening to all the nighttime sounds from the Serengeti plain – from the roaring of lions, and howling of hyena and monkeys, to the tromping of an elephant herd moving past. Truly one of the most invigorating experiences ever and one not to me missed when in Africa. But not for everyone.

On our tent camping safaris, we generally travel with two vehicles. The one vehicle, usually driven by Shaaban, is the primary viewing car. The second vehicle is driven by the cook and helper, who generally drive ahead to setup camp and prepare the evening meal.

The best clothing for day to day safari wear is lightweight synthetic long-sleeved shirts and long trousers. These can always be obtained in the US and Europe from sports and outdoors equipment companies and there are many options available online. Oftentimes the best shirts are called safari shirts or even fly-fishing shirts – these are very lightweight and can be easily washed out and will quickly dry out. The trousers are often referred to as hiking pants and often come with legs that can be unzipped so that they can be worn as shorts. Earth tones are best, as they tend to blend with the surroundings. Footwear should be outdoor type shoes or low boots, and the lugged soles, often called Vibram, give a better footing when out of the car and on trails or rocks.

For evening wear, especially at the finer lodges, it is always preferable to have nice, but casual, evening wear. This would include slacks and polo shirts for the men and summer dresses or slacks and blouses for the women.

East Africa does have its rainy seasons and it can also get a little chilly in the mornings and evenings. So it is always a very good idea to travel with a lightweight rain parka, just in case, and a fleece type jacket or sweater.

All the lodges have laundry service, so at a bare minimum it should be possible to go on safari with only two changes of clothing. However, it is always a good idea to have a third change of clothing, because it is not possible to have laundry washed on those days in which we transfer from one lodge to another.

The best wildlife viewing is during the early morning hours, after the sun is up but before it gets really hot, and in the late afternoon and at dusk. It is during these times that the animals become most active and, if you are patient, you may see some truly incredible animal behavior or even predation.

And so it is always important to have the patience to sit in the vehicle and wait, especially if your Fila guide believes that the animals may soon be doing something memorable.

If you have any specialty medications, make sure to bring them with you as it can often be problematic obtaining these in East Africa.

If you have a pair of binoculars, bring them. Your guide will always have a pair and will use them as often as possible -- but a second set of eyes scanning for game is always helpful. 

Lodges generally provide the necessary toiletry consumable items such as soap and shampoo – however, most people prefer to bring their own.

Also bring some bug spray as we may go into locations that have some mosquitos and other insects. The most effective form of bug spray is 100% Deet, however this can irritate some peoples skin. Some people prefer to use other means of repelling insects, especially mosquitos, but these generally are not as effective as Deet.

 Also, please consult with your family physician who will advise you any necessary immunizations and will prescribe one of several forms of anti-malaria medication.

Pretty much everyone who goes on safari will take photographs and the camera gear that they use ranges from cell phones, at the one extreme, to high end digital SLR’s with huge telephoto lenses, at the other extreme.

If your interest is more the safari experience and you are not overly driven to have high quality photos of the animals you see, then a good cell phone camera  or point and shoot camera will work pretty well. Just bear in mind that, even though you may get great landscape shots, these cameras might not have enough zoom capability to truly isolate animals that are not immediately close to the vehicle.

If you want to return from safari with truly impressive photos of the animals and scenery, it is possible to purchase a good quality SLR type digital camera (either Canon or Nikon) with a very versatile 70-300mm zoom lens (with image stabilization or vibration reduction) for under us$1000. If you have the technical skill to operate such a camera, we highly advise that you do this – you will absolutely love the results and the memories that you can keep for a lifetime.

And if you are the advanced amateur/professional photographer, you probably have all the camera gear that you need. Our only recommendation is that you bring the longest telephoto lens you have (or can afford) – 300mm is marginal, and 600mm or even the newer 800mm lenses are ideal for many circumstances. Also, bring a bean bag – the Fila team knows all the places to get the best rice to fill it with. A tripod is not likely to be used on game drives, but may come in handy for sunset shots or even star trails at the lodge.


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