I’m not a regular on the board but I have been on a bit in the last year planning our 3.5 week East African honeymoon. Thanks to everyone who helped out with answers, and a special thanks to climbhighsleeplow for advice concerning mara vs. serengeti vs. both. We concentrated on the Mara and were very well rewarded.
This trip report will be brief with info on operators, lodges, etc… and not much narrative (I’ll let the pictures tell the story).
Since this forum has a growing interest in photography (rightly I think since it deals a lot with safaris) I thought I would share some observations.
My main safari lens was the 100-400L from Canon paired to a Rebel XT. This lens was incredible. Some don’t like the push pull but when shooting on a bean bag, push pull is so much easier than a zoom dial which can get struck from friction with the beanbag (that happened when using my 70-200). The range was great and the image stabilization fantastic. If you are in the Canon system I don’t think there is a better choice.
The XT was great. The only thing that would make me upgrade was the extra focus points on the 20D would make composing a bit easier sometimes.
When shooting from a vehicle a bean bag is absolutely essential. I used the kinesis safarisack which is a good size but a little overpriced for a nylon bag - any bean bag will do.
For gorilla trekking I used the 70-200 2.8 IS. This was again the perfect lens. I originally did not want to get it because of the cost but I sucked it up and bought used and will sell it soon. The range is perfect for gorilla trekking and the 2.8 and IS are very useful when shooting in the forest handheld without flash.
I took a lot of photos. I had a 2gb and a 1gb flash cards which was sufficient. On one gorilla trek I took about 300 raw photos, nearly hitting the 3gb capacity. On game drives it was very rare that I took near 3gb at a go. I think I took in the order of about 2500-3000 photos. I used a very basic OTG backup device (these are very basic hard drive enclosures with a usb port and a copy button). They worked perfectly. (Search ebay for item# 7550581656 for what I actually used)
Weight: The only time my carryon was weighed was Nairobi to Kigali at checkin and I think I could have avoided that by being less actively cooperative – but it was just a weighing of all luggage together so didn’t matter if one hand luggage was overweight. I had my wife’s hand luggage lightly packed so I could transfer stuff over and also at least on some flights our ticket said our binoculars, camera, food, reading material were not included so I was ready to take all that out if someone hassled us. My only close call was in Heathrow on the return flight. Just after check-in and before security there was a British Airways person that was asking people with heavy looking luggage to have it weighed but my Lowepro minitrekker isn’t that big and the lady was occupied with someone else as I approached so I made no eye contact and walked right by (At this stage we had our duty free liquor and some souvenirs so I don’t think I could have passed any stuff to my wife’s bag). Note though that we didn’t do any really small plane flying, just short haul flights.
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