Safari Diary

  • What camera to bring on safari

    Giulia
    March 30, 2021

    If you are wondering what camera gear to pack for your safari experience, look no further! Here is the comprehensive list of all the camera equipment and accessories you will need for your safari.

    This photography gear list is brought to you by our resident photographer Giulia Cimarosti, safari specialist at Shadows of Africa and professional photographer. Guilia also leads groups on our special photographic safaris in Tanzania.

    Generally speaking, depending on the device you use you can expect different results. Let’s go through some options:

    Mobile Photography on Safari

    You don’t have to own super pricey, professional equipment, however it’s quite safe to say that using a mobile phone to take photos during your safari won’t make good close-up images of the wildlife possible, no matter the phone’s model or quality.

    Mobile phones tend to have very poor zooming capabilities, however they can be great for African sunsets, photographing a herd in the landscape, and of course to take the occasional short video for social media, when a curious cheetah decides to climb on the vehicle!

    Keep in mind though that during your safari you won’t always get very close to the animals, so the best way to frame the subject is to use a zoom-telephoto lens on an actual camera.

    Cameras and Lenses on Safari

    If you want to take really good photos on your safari, make sure you bring your DSLR camera! A digital single lens reflex camera will allow you to use manual settings, adapting them to the lighting situation, the distance to the subject and the effects you want to achieve.

    Now you may be wondering what camera body is the best one, but the answer is not an easy one. There are cameras of all formats and brands, but they all have one thing in common: manual settings!

    The thing you need to concentrate on, when thinking about the right photography gear for safari photography, is what lens - or better, lenses - to bring.

    Zoom lenses

    The must-have kind of lens for safari photography is a zoom or telephoto. This is the kind of lens that allows you to zoom into the subject, making it appear closer. There are countless zoom lenses on the market, but make sure your telephoto lens has a focal length of at least 200 mm.

    • Budget
      28-300 mm or 70-300 mm lenses are good budget options for beginners.
    • Medium
      A 150-600 mm lens will allow you to shoot almost anything in daylight, taking your photography to the next level with a reasonable investment.
    • Pro
      A 70-200 mm f/2,8 prime lens, although the focal length is not extreme, is an excellent lens that will not disappoint.
      There are other lenses such 400 mm f/4 or even f/2,8 prime lenses which are top choices but at an extremely high price tag.

    If there is a lens worth an investment when planning to go on a photographic safari, it has to be the zoom!

    Medium and Wide Angle Lenses

    Although zoom lenses are the first ones that come to mind when thinking about safari photography, a wide angle lens also goes a long way when it comes to shooting the animals in their habitat, dramatic African skies and sunsets, and large herds moving during the Great Migration. Make sure you pack a wide to medium lens too!

    • Budget
      The 18-55 mm “kit lens” that comes with most camera kits works perfectly for this kind of photos. As a budget option, any kit lens works perfectly, actually!
      Lenses in the 10-24 mm range are much wider - another good option that will allow you to take creative photographs during your safari.
    • Medium
      A 15-30 mm f/2,8 wide lens is a high quality choice for landscape.
    • Pro
      The 24-70 mm f/2,8 is a “classic”, very sharp lens that never disappoints, allowing you to shoot landscapes (or good quality files to stitch in panoramas later on) and zoom into the subject too.

    Bear in mind that a good wide angle lens also allows you to take wonderful nocturnal photos of the clear skies of the savannah.

    Other accessories

    Now that you know what to use to shoot your safari photographs, let’s think about the accessories you shouldn’t forget:

    • Spare batteries. Although all our vehicles have charging stations to recharge your batteries during the game drives, having one or two extra batteries is always a good idea to keep shooting without a single worry!
    • Memory cards. Believe it or not, I can guarantee you will find yourself shooting dozens and dozens of photos to the same animal or scene. It’s easy when you have lions posing for you, or a hunting scene taking place. So pack extra memory cards!
    • Battery charger. There are regular battery chargers and also double battery chargers that work with USB and/or car power outlets. I like these, as you can charge 2 batteries at once.
    • Protection for your camera gear. The savannah is dusty, and dust is the real enemy of cameras and their sensors. Try to keep everything protected from dust except what you are using. Camera bags or pouches/cloths will work great.
    • Cleaning kit. A full kit includes the sensor cleaning kit and tools to remove dust and clean the camera. Try to keep everything clean by gently removing the dust every day after the game drives. Please note: the sensor tends to get dirty with all the dust of the safari, but at the same time cleaning the sensor is a very delicate task so don’t risk it if you are not sure how to do it!

    Are you ready to embark on your photographic safari adventure? Please let us know if you need more suggestions and information about what camera gear to pack for your safari. We look forward to having you travel with us!

  • Best safari experience in Tanzania

    AdminSoa
    August 21, 2019

    Something a little different – for the best safari experience in Tanzania

    Graeme and Veronica decided to plan their trip a little differently and concentrate on just the Serengeti and Ngorongoro, allowing a little more time in each place to get the best that they could. With Dickson as their guide, it worked perfectly!

    Staying at Tukaone Camp in the Serengeti, on the Mara River, nailed the wildebeest river crossing for them!

    Moving through to the west of Serengeti Robanda Camp allowed for easy access to the central area of Serengeti and sightings of the cats, including a lioness trying to hunt and a long photographic session with a pair of mating lions.

    A night on the Ngorongoro crater rim allowed for an excursion to the lesser visited, but stunning, Empakai crater, before ending the safari of a lifetime with a full day in the Ngorongoro crater.

    Tanzania can really offer the best of safari experiences. Whatever your plans are, we can make it work for you at Shadows of Africa!

  • What a big baby! What an amazing safari experience!

    AdminSoa
    August 13, 2019

    Sightings like this in Ngorongoro just confirm that in Tanzania you are in the centre of the best safari experience in the world!

    With just two nights on safari, Damaris had chosen Bougainvillea’s two properties; their lodge in Karatu in easy access of the Ngorongoro Crater, and their Thorn Tree camp in Serengeti.

    Guided by Lomayani, they had the most incredible 3 day safari, sighting lion, leopard and leopard cub and cheetah in the Serengeti, and this wonderful large baby elephant demanded some milk from its mother, despite being too large to fit anywhere nearly underneath her!

    Two nights in the right place can be all that you need for the safari of a lifetime. Don’t make it complicated, just book with Shadows of Africa.

  • Lions kill Wildebeest in the Serengeti National Park

    AdminSoa
    August 2, 2019

    What a spectacular safari for Rishi Bagaria and family!

    Two Lioness pulled down a Wildebeest right in front of them, in the middle of the Serengeti!

    Lions kill in the Serengeti

     

    Thirsty lions after a kill in Serengeti

     

    Rishi and his family started at the Maasai Amini lodge between Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, moving onto their first wildlife encounters in Lake Manyara National Park before heading up and around the Ngorongoro Crater to the lovely Karibu Lions paw camp.

    They spent a day in the crater, returning to Lions paw again before dropping down into the Serengeti, where they spent two full days, overnighting at magnificently comfortable Ole Serai Turner Springs.

    Cheetah and cubs sighted in the Serengeti

     

  • Celebrating the Lion King

    AdminSoa
    July 24, 2019

    With so many reliving, or seeing for the first time, the fantastic story of the Lion King, it’s time to celebrate some of its characters.

    We reckon, from the landscapes, that the Lion King story was based in the Serengeti/Ngorongoro ecosystem and even in the famous Ol Karien Gorge.

    Why not come and experience Lion King country for yourself and see some of the films best characters really up close and personal with Shadows of Africa.

    The lions, obviously, are a must; Simba, Nala, Mufasa, Sarabi and Scar. Interestingly, and what you might not realise when watching them laze in the sun, is that male lions are highly competitive, and are well known to practice infanticide if they take over a pride of females that have young cubs, ensuring that their genes, and not another’s, are passed onto the next generation.

    And then there’s those terrible cackling hyena. Wonderful to see in the wild and additionally one of the most fascinating species, spotted hyena are the most social of all the carnivores. They are also matriarchal, meaning that the females are bigger and are more dominant than the males.

    Pumbaa, that plump joker, full of life and laughs, is everywhere when you’re on safari. Tossing his head and running along with his tail held high like an antenna behind him. Warthogs live in burrows in the ground and the mother usually push their piglets in first and then reverse in behind them, able to charge out and protect them from any signs of danger. They really do love to wallow in mud, cooling themselves down from the heat of the sun.

    We think the Lion King is fantastic, but the real thing is unforgettable!

     

     

  • A very special place - Africa Amini Life

    AdminSoa
    July 15, 2019

    You’re coming on safari to Africa – so why not immerse yourself from day one, like Shelley Fritz did this month with Shadows of Africa!

    The perfect welcome to Tanzania – Afica Amini Life team The perfect welcome to Tanzania – Africa Amini Life team

     

    Blending into its environment – Africa Amini Life Blending into its environment – Africa Amini Life

     

    Africa Amini Life Maasai Lodge, located an easy drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport and situated midway between Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, is more than just a bed to rest your weary head. It’s an experience to set you up for the rest of your trip, to celebrate the end of a trip and one to remember for a lifetime.

    Your accommodation Your accommodation

     

    Created by mother and daughter medical doctor team, Christine Wallner and Cornelia Wallner-Frisee, as a closely linked part of their NGO Africa Amini Alama, the lodge incorporates a little bit of everything. European style facilities blend with nature and Maasai  earthern houses, solar provides power and hot water, home grown herbs and the extra special ingredients to an enticing choice of international and local cuisine, and activities include cooling off in the pool after spear throwing with a Maasai warrior.

    Africa Amini Swimming Pool

     

    Stories and dancing with the Maasai – an evening option at Amini Africa Life Stories and dancing with the Maasai – an evening option at Amini Africa Life

     

    Be assured that every dollar you spend on accommodation at this special place goes directly into Africa Amini Alama, its sister charitable organization, supporting educational, medical and social projects.

    Come and feel Africa with us. Book your safari now with Shadows of Africa.

     

  • The Ilchokuti’s of Ngorongoro Conservation Area

    AdminSoa
    July 10, 2019

    While you wonder at the incredible wildlife in the Ngorongoro crater and the beauty of its large landscape, at the lions with their golden eyes looking more massive than you had imagined, stop to consider those who live as their neighbors and how they manage to co-exist.

    Lions of Ngorongoro. Photo credit: Kope Lion Lions of Ngorongoro. Photo credit: Kope Lion

     

    Ngorongoro is unique in that it blends wildlife together with the Maasai, Datoga and Hadzabe tribes that live in the area. Of course, it’s not easy, especially when making a living for most is through pastoralism. For the lion of the crater highlands, together with other predators, livestock is an easy target and there’s plenty of great places to hide.

    Additionally, lion killing is traditionally seen as the ultimate show of bravery for the Maasai warriors, earning you a lifetime of respect and admiration.

    Working together with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority is the Korongoro People’s Lion Project, or Kope Lion as its more usually referred to. Kope Lion work together with twenty Ilchokuti, or Lion Guardians, well respected members of their community who track the lions on the ground daily to warn the herders where the lion are in their vicinity, preventing unnecessary conflict. They also assist to find lost livestock, and to repair and strengthen the fences protecting the livestock at night.

    Ilchokutis of Ngorongoro - tracking lion on the ground. Photo credit: Kopelion Ilchokutis of Ngorongoro - tracking lion on the ground. Photo credit: Kopelion
    Ilchokuti in the vast expanse of Ngorongoro. Photo credit: Kope Lion Ilchokuti in the vast expanse of Ngorongoro. Photo credit: Kope Lion

     

    Without killing the lion these warriors still earn their respect from their community, working bravely and tirelessly to protect their communities and the lion they share their history with.

    Building upon a 50-year study of the Ngorongoro lion population, Kope Lion measures and shares their knowledge and the impacts of their efforts on the lions’ population dynamics and tries to understand the human lion conflicts better to enable them to better mitigate.

    Kimani. Photo credit: Kope Lion Kimani. Photo credit: Kope Lion

     

    Ask your Shadows of Africa guide for more information on Kope Lion and while you watch them, appreciate a little while longer these magnificent beasts, their neighbours and the brave Ilchokuti.

    Book a trip to Ngorongoro Crater now through Shadows of Africa

     

     

  • Lake Eyasi, Ziwani, the Hadzabe and Datoga

    AdminSoa
    July 9, 2019

    Shadows of Africa recent safari with the Fritz group took in an exciting spread of both activities and lodges. Our skilled safari consultants can match your ideas and aspirations with what’s on the ground.

    One desire of theirs was to see not only wildlife but also the different cultures of Tanzania. Lake Eyasi and Ziwani were obvious choices.

    Lodge overview: Photo from Ziwani lodge Lodge overview: Photo from Ziwani lodge

     

    Ziwani Lodge overlooking Lake Eyasi is a refreshing refuge after a few days of concentrated game viewing in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater.

    Interior. Photo from Ziwani lodge Interior. Photo from Ziwani lodge

     

    Ziwani has a style of its own. Created to provide a peaceful escape, fabulous views and the cool that’s required in this sometimes, harsh environment. Ziwani is gorgeous!

    But it’s not all about putting your feet up, relaxing by the pool and sipping an ice-cold drink, Eyasi is home to the Datoga and Hadzabe tribes and offers an insight into two different and intriguing cultures.

    Hadza with bow. Photo from Ziwani lodge Hadzabe with bow. Photo from Ziwani lodge

     

    The Hadzabe numbering around 1,000 in Tanzania are hunter-gatherers, living off the land. Using only bows and arrows they have no lasting impact on wildlife populations. They don’t cut trees and they don’t dig water holes, and they don’t ‘own’ things – instead they live in harmony with their environment, and we have a lot we can learn from them.

    The Datoga are highland Nilotic pastoralists dependent on their livestock and skilled blacksmiths – often trading their arrowheads with the Hadza in exchange for skins and honey.

    Finishing touches on an arrow head – Datoga tribe. Photo from Ziwani Lodge Finishing touches on an arrow head – Datoga tribe. Photo from Ziwani Lodge

     

    Step out of your box and discover a culture that’s not your own, that teaches you something different and that makes you appreciate more fully, the diversity of our beautiful world.

    Extend your safari and spend a day around the fascinating lake Eyasi.

  • Get out and take a walk – Ngorongoro Crater, Empakai, Lengai to Natron

    AdminSoa
    July 5, 2019

    Tired of sitting in a safari vehicle? Take a hike, stretch your legs, enjoy the smells and sounds of your surrounds and the most incredible scenery.

    One of the most incredible adventures offered by the Shadows of Africa team is walking from the Empakai Crater in the Ngorongoro Highlands down to the soda lake of Natron, passing the classic volcano of Ol Donyo Lengai.

    Ngorongoro Highlands Ngorongoro Highlands

     

    Before you start to walk you have to visit the Ngorongoro crater and take in a chance to see the Big 5. The next day you move onto the neighboring crater of Empakai with its forested slopes, flamingo encrusted lake floor and your first chance to get those legs working.

    Refreshed by the beauty of this lovely cultural area you’re now ready to walk a little further. With donkeys to carry your kit, expertly guided by local Maasai, you are freed up to shake your shoulders and skip down the highlands, and out of the chill, to the drylands below.

    Flamingoes on Lake Natron Flamingoes on Lake Natron

     

    Spending a night camping en route you walk on with the most astounding of views ahead. It is hard to concentrate on the walking with such a distraction.

    Ol Donyo Lengai volcano Ol Donyo Lengai volcano

     

    With choices of climbing Lengai at night to reach the active top and its molten lava by dawn, cooling off in the nearby waterfalls, or taking a drive to get close to the flamingoes at the lake’s edge, there’s plenty to entertain you at your destination.

    Waterfalls alongside Lake Natron Waterfalls alongside Lake Natron

     

    Lakeside Natron Lakeside Natron

     

    Chill out another day, staying at one of Natron’s many options of accommodation, before heading back into Arusha.

    Come take a walk with us and book your safari now!

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