19 Best Safari Accessories: Absolute Essentials

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Embarking on a safari is an experience like no other.

Travels through breathtaking, untamed landscapes and thrilling up-close encounters with majestic wildlife are just part of the adventure.

But getting the best out of an African safari, whether on a self-drive or guided safari, means you’ll need to consider the safari accessories you have with you.

And that’s where we come in.

Elephant-appearing from behind a 4x4 in a park
This big guy passed 1.5m from us; one of many great safari moments ©Lifejourney4two

In 2020, we bought our Hilux 4×4 Bush Camper in South Africa and started our African overlanding adventure. This car with a rooftop tent is now our home when travelling in Africa, having everything we need to travel off the grid on our own self-drive safaris.

(You can take a look inside our bush camper in the video near the end of this post — or jump ahead here.)

So far, we’ve travelled together extensively throughout South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, enjoying a combo of guided, self-drive, riverboat and walking safaris.

Therefore, we know a thing or two about the best safari essentials and gadgets to have with you.

a herd of elephants drinking at a waterhole
Thirsty elephants crowd the waterhole at Nxai Pan National Park ©Lifejourney4two

Quick Overview of the Best Safari Accessories

If you are in a hurry, here are our top suggestions for safari gadgets and essentials:

  1. ▶️ Sony RX10iv (all-in-one camera)
  2. ▶️ Sony a9
  3. ▶️ Sony 100-400mm G Master lens
  4. ▶️ Peak Design straps
  5. ▶️ SanDisk or Sony Tough Memory Cards (waterproof and dust-proof)
  6. ▶️ Camera bean bags 
  7. ▶️ Vanguard Alta Rise 48 camera backpack or Peak Design Everyday 30 litre backpack
  8. ▶️ Cooling towels
  9. ▶️ Avalon 10×42 PRO Binoculars
  10. ▶️ Safari spotlight/torch and headlamp
  11. ▶️ Water-To-Go and Lifestraw Go filter bottle
  12. ▶️ Multi-port USB splitter
  13. ▶️ Portable power bank
  14. ▶️ Tracks4Africa guide app
  15. ▶️ KrugerExplorer app
  16. ▶️ Men’s Safari Shirt and Women’s Safari Shirt
  17. ▶️ Men’s convertible pants and women’s convertible safari pants
  18. ▶️ Safari hat
  19. ▶️ General Safari Items

But wait, there’s more.

As you gear up for your adventure, don’t forget to check out our curated list of safari and travel gifts.

Whether for yourself or a fellow explorer, these gifts are perfect for enhancing any travel experience. Discover unique and practical items that will make any safari unforgettable!

19 Best Safari Accessories

Here, you’ll find all the best accessories to take on your safari, and we’ve also highlighted why we think this is a useful item for you.

We’ve broken this list down into categories to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for.

CAMERA/LENS COMBINATIONS (FOR PHOTO AND VIDEO)

Mirrorless cameras have taken the world by storm. Being small-sized and lightweight, it makes the perfect travel photography gear.

You can choose from either a hybrid (all-in-one) mirrorless camera or a mirrorless camera with an interchangeable lens.

1. Hybrid Camera: Sony RX10iv

A hybrid mirrorless camera, such as a Sony RX10iv, is a great option for those who want to zoom into the action but also capture wide-angle photos.

This all-in-one camera is a versatile option to take on safari — especially if you aren’t that confident behind the lens.

Shelley used this when we started our self-drive safaris and captured great photos and videos.

Safari accessory RX10IV camera-in-Shelley's-hands
Shelley and her Sony RX10iv

Why we like the Sony RX10iv as a safari accessory:

  • A lightweight, weatherproof camera
  • Does not require changing lenses
  • Focal lengths with an equivalent 24mm to 600mm optical zoom
  • 20MP, 1-inch sensor
  • Super fast 0.03s auto-focus speed with 315 phase-detection autofocus points
  • 24 frames per second burst mode
  • Silent shooting
  • 4K video quality
  • Built-in camera stabilisation
Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV with 0.03 Second Auto-Focus & 25x Optical Zoom (DSC-RX10M4), Black
$34.99 $29.96
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2. Camera: Sony A9 (MkII)

Our mirrorless camera of choice for safari action photography is the Sony a9.

It’s a world-renowned action camera with blackout-free shooting and super-fast auto-focus. It will capture that action with ease.

safari accessories sony 200-600mm lens out window
Shooting with my Sony a9 with Sony 200-600mm lens in Kruger National Park

Why we like the Sony a9 as a safari accessory:

  • Animal eye autofocus
  • Blackout free shooting
  • 24MP full-frame sensor
  • 693 autofocus points
  • IBIS camera stabilisation
  • 20 frames per second continuous shooting for up to 239 frames (Raw) or 361 frames (JPEG)
  • Silent shooting
  • Insane ISO range maxing out at 204,800
  • 4K video
  • 2 memory card slots
Sony a9 II Mirrorless Camera

24.2MP Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Continuous AF/AE, 4K Video and Built-in Connectivity – Sony Alpha ILCE9M2/B Body – Black


Buy on Amazon here

3. Interchangeable Lens: Sony 100-400mm G Master Telephoto Lens

It’s really hard to pass by Sony’s top-performing 100-400mm G Master lens.

It has a handy focal length range and is just fantastic for safaris.

Safari accessory camera -Shelley leaning out a window shooting with Sony-100-400mm-lens-shooting-in-Botswana with elephant in background
Shelley using our Sony a9 camera with a Sony 100 – 400mm lens in Botswana

Why we like the Sony 100-400mm lens as a safari accessory:

  • The G Master tag indicates a Sony lens of the highest quality
  • The lens can be paired with either a 1.4 or a 2.0 teleconverter for extra range
  • Lens stabilisation
  • Compact and light-weight lens (lens extends when focussing past 100mm)
  • Dust and moisture resistant

CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHIC ACCESSORIES

If you have already settled on a specific camera/lens choice, the next step will be to look at a few important camera accessories that help you capture the best safari photos.

4. Camera/Lens Carrying Strap

The heavier camera and lens combinations should not be carried from a camera strap attached to the camera. The strap needs to be attached to the lens. Otherwise, it will cause stress to the camera mounting plate.

I strongly suggest you consider a third-party carrying strap such as the Peak Design straps. We have the Slide and Slide Lite models.

The strap includes the anchor connectors, anchor mount, small wrench and carry bag.

Four connectors are included, so the extra two could be used for your binoculars. Also worth mentioning is that the Slide Lite strap can wrap into a ball (for ease of travel), whereas the Slide strap is quite rigid.

5. Memory Cards

Using memory cards from reputable manufacturers will ensure, as much as possible, that your images are kept safe.

You’ll want to consider memory cards that are waterproof and dust-proof, such as SanDisk and Sony Tough.

Just as important, is to look at the memory card write speed (numbers written on the card); the speed at which images are written to the card from the camera. The higher the speed, the quicker the camera buffer can clear when shooting in burst mode.

Our SanDisk and Sony Tough memory cards have fast write speeds of 260MB/s and 299MB/s, respectively.

When shooting action, I’d suggest that the card memory be a minimum of 64GB. Personally, I use 128GB cards.

SanDisk and Sony Tough cards of the same spec are normally priced quite closely.

6. Camera Bean Bag

Most of our wildlife photography is done from our 4×4 Hilux vehicle. Holding the camera steady is key to having those crispy, clean images.

We use a bean bag on the window sill to steady the camera and prevent the hand-holding wobbles. There are different types of bean bags, but the one with the ears on each side helps keep it stable while balanced on the sill.

It’s a really handy safari gadget that is light and easy to pack in your luggage. We bought a couple of empty camera bean bags and filled them with rice once we reached Africa.

safari accessories- camera-bean-bag-on a car window still and under-the-lens
Camera bean bag is a really useful safari gadget to stabilise your camera ©Lifejourney4two

7. Backpack

Whether on a guided, walking, boat or self-drive safari, storing your essentials in a weatherproof backpack is a smart way to go.

My preference is to use a backpack over a messenger bag.

Why?

A backpack can be secured snugly with straps so it doesn’t jiggle about when I’m walking, whereas the messenger bag tends to swing and bounce off my body.

I use the Vanguard Alta Rise 48 camera backpack, which easily fits my long 200-600m lens with all my photography gear.

If I had to choose a general-purpose backpack that gets all the ticks, it would be the Peak Design Everyday 30-litre backpack that comes with a lifetime warranty.

When shopping for backpacks, these are some typical questions I ask myself:

  • What backpack volume do I need?
    A mid-size travel backpack of around 25 litres volume is a good, manageable size.
  • Do I need a travel backpack or a camera bag?
    Small camera gear can be easily stored in a regular backpack; however, if you have long lenses, you might need to consider camera bags.
  • Does the backpack have supporting straps at the chest and waist?
    More straps = more support.
  • Is the backpack waterproof, or does it have a waterproof cover included?
  • Are there additional straps on the backpack for carrying a tripod?
  • Can the pockets be secured to prevent dropped items?
    Velcro or zippered pockets are good.
  • Is there padding on the backpack, making it extra comfortable on my back when worn?
  • Does the backpack have a dedicated water bottle-carrying pouch?

OTHER SAFARI ACCESSORIES

8. CoolingTowels

Our cooling towels have been one of our greatest saviours in helping us combat the African summer heat. They pack small and are fantastic travel safari accessories.

We’ve also just bought another couple for our Australian Travels – we’ve been camping in the summer heatwave and needed these little lifesavers!

Made from high-tech fabrics, these lightweight towels, which are actually more like scarves, have a wonderfully relieving cooling performance.

9. Binoculars

As safari accessories go, binoculars are simply a must-have item.

Safaris are all about spotting the animals; you’ll want to give yourself the best opportunities by having your own binoculars.

Binoculars come with many different specifications, so choosing what’s right when unfamiliar isn’t necessarily a straightforward process.

I spent a fair amount of time researching to understand what was important for a safari before I decided on the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD model.

safari accessories - Avalon-binoculars-on-the-dash-of-our-Hilux
Each of us has our own binoculars ready for use on the dash of our Hilux ©Lifejourney4two

Below I discuss in detail the factors that swung the Avalon’s final decision.

Magnification

The Avalon 10×42 has a magnification value of ‘10’. Generally, you want to look for a magnification value of 8 to 10 for a safari.

For me, the next level of x12 magnification was too great as the field of view (discussed further below) was too reduced, and the tracking of moving objects was more difficult.

Objective Lens Diameter

Shown as the ‘42’ in the 10×42, this number represents the diameter of the lens (on the opposite end of the eyecups). For me, it was just right.

The next size lens, the ’50’, allows more light to enter and provides a brighter view. However, with the bigger lens comes more bulk and weight.

This option may not necessarily be travel-friendly or ideal for longer periods of use, but the extra light is welcome in the low-light conditions of an early morning or late evening safari game drive.

It is a bit of a trade-off between lens size and portability.

adolescent-lion-looking-upwards
You’ll want good binoculars to keep that distance ©Lifejourney4two

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the perfect distance between your eyes and the binocular lens when all is in good focus. Quality binoculars will have extendable eye-cups to be able to change this eye-relief distance. The eye-cups are fully extended for those who don’t need glasses.

Now, wearing glasses will add extra distance between your eye and the lens. The extendable eye-cups will need to twist in to reduce this distance.

My Avalon binoculars have an eye relief of 15mm, an average binocular value.

BAK-4 Roof Prism

The BAK-4 prism is used in the Avalon binoculars. This glass-type prism is known to render a well-defined and bright image. The BAK-4 prism is smaller and optically superior to the Porro prism, which is also found in other brands of binoculars.

To check your existing binoculars for the type of prism they use, simply reverse them and view a light source through the exit pupils. BAK-4 prisms will display a circular light pattern that is evenly lit.

Still undecided on binocular selection?  Below is a video hosted by Orms, a photography wholesaler based in South Africa, where the presenter talks about the different binocular features.

Binoculars: How It Works | How to Choose Binoculars | Which Binoculars to Buy

Field Of View

The Field of View (FOV) value is the angle of horizontal view you can see when keeping the binoculars still over a standard distance of 1000 yards. The FOV value is either measured in feet / 1000 yards or represented as an angle.

In my case, the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD model has an FOV of 283 feet over 1000 yards or the equivalent of 5.4°. The accepted range of values falls between 5° and 10°.

Closest Focusing Distance

This is the closest distance from the binoculars that an object can be properly focused. The Avalon is rated to 3m. That’s plenty close enough for wildlife on any safari.

Waterproof and Fog Proof

Having binoculars with weatherproof capability is another important quality. Wildlife won’t wait around while you clean the binocular lenses. The Avalon binoculars are rated as both water and fog-proof.

Diopter Adjustment

The Avalon allows the focus to be adjusted on one of the eye cups to compensate for minor differences in near or far-sightedness between your eyes. Ensure sure your binoculars have this adjustment because everyone’s eyes have slight variances between the left and right that require this manual correction.

Dimensions

If you intend to have one pair of binoculars to share, check the sizing to cater for people with under or oversized hands. The Avalon is comfortable at 14.3 x 12.4 cm, which is great for average-sized hands.

Weight

Lighter-weight binoculars are easier to hold to the eyes for longer periods, and if you intend to hang them around your neck, the lighter, the better. The Avalon is a comfortable 550g and a good lightweight safari accessory.

Carrying Case, Lens Case and Eye-Cup Covers

Having covers for the lenses and eye-cups is necessary as it helps to protect from dust and debris. Your binoculars should come with a carry case. All these are included in the price for the Avalon binoculars.

10. Spotlight/Torch

A safari torch (handheld) or headlamp needs to be small and light to carry, rechargeable, have a bright and variable light source, waterproof and finally, value for money. Look at these two great options.

The handheld Fenix PD40R meets all the above requirements. Sporting a maximum 3000 lumens beam will perform great on safari and be handy around camp.

For hands-free, then it’s hard to overlook the Coast FL85-R headlamp. It’s both rechargeable and can power off 3xAAA batteries. It throws a spot beam to 200m and has large buttons for ease of use.

11. Filtered Water Bottle

We’ve tried different filtered water bottles, and a couple of the best ones on the market now are the Water-To-Go and Lifestraw filter bottles.

[Use our discount code LJFT15 to get 15% off at checkout for any Water-to-Go products.]

Both products have dual filters.

water to go bottle on a table with a botswana beer can
When in Africa, it’s a good practice to stay hydrated with a Water-to-Go filter bottle, but sampling the local brew of Botswana is a safari accessory we didn’t know we needed. Both bottles tell a tale of adventure – one quenches your thirst, the other tickles your taste buds!

The Water-to-Go has a 3-in-1 filter system with a claimed elimination of 99.9999% of all bacteria, viruses, chlorine, fluoride and heavy metals. The filter is rated for 200 litres.

Trust me, if you want your water to be pure and pristine in Africa, seriously consider a filtered water bottle.

Use discount code LJFT15 for 15% off.

The Lifestraw Go filter bottle has a dual filter system: a microfibre filter that protects against bacteria (rated for 4000 litres), plus a carbon filter that removes any after-taste (rated for 100 litres).

12. USB 3-Port Splitter

We’ve purposely chosen our electronic safari accessories to have the ability to charge off 12V via USB. With multiple devices to charge, we needed a multi-port USB splitter to speed up the charging time.

Anker is a reputable manufacturer that offers many different options. This one includes an SD card reader.

13. Power Bank

You won’t have to worry about running out of juice during a safari when you have a portable power bank to plug your phone into. These portable chargers/battery packs are travel-friendly and so handy.

This INUI power bank has an advantage over its competitors with two output charging ports so that you can charge two devices simultaneously.

14. Phone App for Navigation

In the bush, you need to know where you are. Using a digital map overlaid with the phone’s real-time GPS position, such as the Tracks4Africa guide app, does exactly this. This works well because you don’t need an active mobile network signal.

When travelling in Africa, we use the app on our iPhones to navigate our route. The app provides comprehensive information, including route options, points of interest, campsite locations, fuel stops and a lot of other really useful overland information.

The Tracks4Africa guide app is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.

Tracks4Africa Shop

We mount our phones on the dash using magnetic holders with 3M sticky backing. These holders do a great job holding the phone in place over rough terrain.

kruger safari accessories car dashboard magnets
Magnetic holders work superbly when holding our phones

15. Phone App for Wildlife

A really comprehensive app for iPhone or Android is the KrugerExplorer app.

It’s a great one-stop wildlife reference for any photo safari, and its information is also relevant for other parts of Southern Africa.

It includes info on Kruger National Park campsites, flora, fauna, routes, and maps; it is pretty much a one-stop shop, and the app is regularly updated.

If Kruger National Park is on your safari itinerary (and should be), then look at our comprehensive guide of everything you need to know for a Kruger National Park self-drive Safari.

Kruger Explorer app photo

SAFARI CLOTHING

Safari clothing needs to tick a few boxes. It has to be practical and feel comfortable.

From the practical side, depending on the season, your safari clothing will need to protect you from the sun, be able to breathe in the heat, insulate you from the cold and be of neutral colours.

Avoid black and dark blues as tsetse flies and mosquitos are attracted to them.

Additionally, white is not good for camouflage as it stands out in the bush and may raise alarm in the wildlife, so choose your colours wisely.

Also, avoid military-style camouflage patterns, as wearing these can get you in trouble with the police. It might be seen as trying to impersonate police or security.

16. Safari Shirt

This shirt, by Mountain Hardwear, comes in different colours and has a 50 UPF rating with moisture wicking. It ticks all the boxes and has great reviews.

This versatile Jessie Kidden safari shirt is quick-drying and has UPF 50+ sleeves that can be buttoned up or left long.

17. Safari Pants

Jessie Kidden convertible pants with UPF 50 and quick dry ability get great reviews. Besides having a 2-in-1 pants/shorts combo, it has a handy side pocket for your phone.

MIER Women’s Safari Cargo Convertible Pants are lightweight with six pockets, quick dry, water- and rip-resistant.

These are perfect for climbing in and out of game drive vehicles or walking through the bush. An added bonus of these pants is that they can convert to shorts in seconds.

18. Safari Hat

Columbia’s safari hat is unisex and comes in several different colours. It’s adjustable, moisture-wicking, and has UPF 50 protection.

19. General Safari Packing List

The list below highlights all the other things we have with us on safari, and although you’ve probably already thought of them, it’s good to have a reminder checklist when you are planning what to take on safari.

  • Clothing layers
  • Flip flops
  • Walking Boots
  • Sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries
  • First-aid kit
  • Hand sanitiser

Video Walk-Through of Our Bush Camper

Take a look inside our Hilux bush camper here.

blue arrow
Our 2016 Toyota Hilux Bushcamper walkthrough - the Africa 4x4 adventure is about to begin!

ESSENTIAL SAFARI ACCESSORIES – THAT’S A WRAP

Having spent the last three years on safari in Southern Africa, we’ve had time to test thoroughly and now settle on only the most functional and trusted safari accessories. We need to rely on these each and every day.

These safari gadgets and essential accessories will make all the difference to your adventure. We really look forward to hearing what you think, too.

Leave us a comment below or drop us an email.

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For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.

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Lars

Lars, grew up in the Australian countryside and discovered his love for nature early on. Leaving Australia at 20, he began a life of travel and exploration. As a co-owner of Lifejourney4two with Shelley, Lars captures their journeys through his photography. Join him here and see the world through his lens.

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