I carry on all of my photo gear so I have to pack it with care to get it all on. I use a backpack that meets international airline carry on restrictions and wrap each body or lens in small bubble wrap. I also carry a laptop bag that will hold the computer and a bunch of other stuff. I recommend taking at least two camera bodies and a variety of lenses including your 500mm or 600mm f/4 if you can get it on the plane. 2009 was my first African Photography Safari and I didn’t take my 600mm – that won’t happen again. On this trip, my equipment consisted of three camera bodies: the Canon 1D Mark III was my primary wildlife camera, the Canon 5D Mark II was used for scenic shots, and a Canon 50D as a back up. My lenses were all Canon: a 300mm L f/2.8, 70-200mm L f2.8, 24-105mm L f/4, 17-40mm L f/4, a 1.4X and a 2X extender. Additionally, I took a Canon 580EX II Flash, cable release, and a variety of miscellaneous stuff. Tripods and monopods are not needed and get in the way. Buy a bean bag of some type that can be filled there with rice or bird seed in Kenya as we stand and shoot out of the vehicle 99% of the time. We will empty the bean bags prior to flying home.
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