African Safari Essentials

Kruger Park South Africa is a true African safari experience boasting unrivalled game viewing, while the white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean invite honeymooners and families for relaxing and water sports and the pristine and little visited reefs of Mozambique, Madagascar and other Indian Ocean islands beg to be explored by Scuba Divers and snorkellers.

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African Safari Essentials

When to Go on Safari | Safari Photography | Packing for your Safari

When to Go on Safari

Much has been written about the best time of year to go on safari, Kruger is a year-round destination in a vast and diverse area and wildlife is the major attraction. The year can be roughly split into two seasons.

The Wet Season - which is the warmer months of November to March.
The grass can be long in some areas after the rains and everything is lush and green, and the birding is excellent. November and December are the calving months. The animals and birds are in good condition with ample supply of water and food.

The Dry Season – Which is the warm days but cooler nights of April to October. It is easier to spot game as the vegetation is less dense, grass is shorter and water is restricted to rivers and waterholes, where the wildlife congregates.

The optimum safari season is May to August and the hot months of September and October. The climate is comfortable in the dry winter months of May, June, July and August. Daytime temperatures are mild and the nights get a little cool.

Peak Seasons

Peak season is when the lodges are busiest – not necessarily when it is the best time of year to visit, for example December is peak season because the lodges can always fill the beds, while July is often a quieter moth at the lodges but is a great time for game viewing.

Many Safari Lodges are small, and therefore space is at a premium for peak seasons it is advisable to book well in advance.

Photography on Safari

You will have the opportunity to take some amazing photo's while on your safari.

On guided Kruger Safaris talk to your Ranger before the Game drives and bush walks and he can guide you as to what you are likely to see and help position you best on the drives for light and angles.

It is helpful to know the behaviour of the animals and birds you're trying to photograph. By understanding their behaviour you will have a better chance of finding them and you will be able to predict their actions.

Never interfere with the natural behaviour of the animals in order to take a better photo! Please be courteous when taking pictures.

Camera equipment

Now is the age of the digital camera and even small compacts have great capabilities. Remember batteries and memory cards, however large your memory card is it never seems enough when there is a lion only a few metres away from your vehicle !! 


A 200 or 300mm lens (or 80-300 zoom) is good for most wildlife photography from vehicles. A 400 or 500mm range lens will work well in many situations, especially if you are a keen bird photographer.

A 24 to 35mm is great for landscapes and a 50mm to 90mm is good for people.

The new super lenses that go from 50 to 400mm are ideal for going across the whole range.

Filters and Tripods

Skylight and UV filters are useful for lens protection as well as picture enhancement. Polarizing filters are useful when taking pictures over water and with wide-angle shots with sky and clouds.

It is very difficult to use a tripod on safari either a guided or self drive, a better idea is a small beanbag for resting your camera and lens. We suggest that you make the bag at home (approx. 6'x 9') with a good sealed zip at one end and fill it with rice purchased when you arrive (keep the rice in its purchase bag so at the end you can give it away).  

New Equipment

If you buy new camera equipment before this safari, make sure you are completely familiar with it's operation before you leave, check things like type of battery you will need (common AA style batteries are available but other types are difficult to get). For rechargeable batteries check when and where you can recharge them, always carry a spare. 

Some Safari Photography Tips

When taking close-up pictures, focus on the animal's eyes. This guarantees that most of the animal's face will be in focus. Be prepared and ready with your camera at all times, as animals may suddenly appear and disappear just as quickly.

Range your subject. For example, when taking photos of an Elephant, take a portrait shot; include one more with the general habitat in context to the subject, then another with close-up detail, such as tusks and face.

Take different pictures in vertical and horizontal approaches. Take photographs from different levels when you are on a game viewing activity. Remember pictures taken at the animal's eye-level will appear more sensational.

Do not centre all your shots; leave room in your subject for the animal to move into. This will prevent lifeless composition and give an imitate portrayal of your subject.

A good starting point for wildlife photography is a lens with a 300mm in focal length. Bird photography will require a 500mm lens. When the subject is in motion, use a shutter speed of at least 1/125, except if you are using a panning method. Birds in flight necessitate speeds of 1/500 or more.

You will find incredible photographic opportunities on your safari. If you are a keen photographer you may want to bring two SLR camera bodies so you will not have to change lenses. With two cameras you will spend more time looking at the wildlife and composing shots rather than fumbling in your camera bag, getting dust in your camera body, and missing the action!

Our Camera Equipment at Kruger Park Safari Service

The shots on this website are all taken by the staff in the White River office and we run special photographic safaris where our photographer will accompany you on Safari and help you brush up on wildlife safari shots.

We use Nikon Equipment for our photography and have the following:
Bodies: D300, D200, D70 and D40x
Lenses: Sigma 10 - 20 mm, Nikon 17 – 55 mm Nikon 300 mm, Nikon 200 – 400 mm and a 1.7 times converter.

What to wear on Safari

On safari, most people wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day and put on long sleeved shirts and long pants in the evening for warmth as well as protection from mosquitoes. Should you be particularly sensitive to the sun a loose cotton shirt is essential during the day. Khaki, brown, olive and beige colours are best for and safaris and game walks.

White is not a suitable colour for these activities, as it increases your visibility to wildlife you want to get a closer look at and it will get dirty very quickly. Fleece or sweater and a windbreaker for game drives, because it is highly possible that you may go out on a hot day, but be faced with a chill evening on your return. Remember that layering your clothing will keep you warmer than relying on one thick item.

A suggestion of what to pack

  • pairs khaki cotton pants
  • pairs khaki shorts
  • long sleeved shirts/ blouses (for sun protection as well as warmth)
  • light sweater or sweatshirt
  • lightweight, waterproof windbreaker
  • Swimming costume
  • Sturdy walking or hiking boots
  • Sandals
  • short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
  • changes underwear and socks
  • Hat with a brim (baseball caps might cover your nose but not your ears and neck)
  • Camera, and sufficient memory card(s)
  • Spare batteries. Some batteries can generally be obtained at lodges, but at a price of course, so please be sure to have sufficient supplies for your needs
  • Binoculars
  • Paperback reading, writing material (keep weight at a minimum)
  • Sunscreen or block
  • Moisturizer, lip balm
  • Personal first-aid kit (headache pills, antihistamine cream etc)
  • If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring a sufficient supply with you. If you are on a lengthy holiday, we suggest that you carry a copy of your prescription with you.

    Creepy Crawlies

    Although Africa is known to be home to a number of potentially dangerous species, especially snakes, scorpions, spiders, and insects, very few visitors are adversely affected. Snakes tend to be shy, and generally stay away from built-up areas. Lodges and camps generally have insect (especially mosquito) proofing in their rooms. If you go on a walk, it is always a good idea to wear comfortable, enclosed walking shoes, socks, and long trousers – just as a precaution.

    And Please

    Litter tossed on the ground can choke or poison animals and birds and is unsightly. Refrain from smoking on game drives. The dry African bush ignites very easily, and a flash fire can kill many animals.

    Never attempt to feed or approach any wild animal on foot. This is especially important near lodges or in campsites where animals may have become accustomed to human visitors.