by Craig Harding on March 14, 2012
6 min read

So you’ve booked your dream holiday to Africa. One of the Rhino Africa safari experts has helped you choose all the perfect accommodation, the top destinations and thanks to our informative blog post on the subject, you know exactly what to pack. You’re all set to go.

But wait, this is the modern age and our lives are dominated by technology. Maybe, like me, you feel you just can’t leave it all behind. Just because you’re going to Africa, doesn’t mean you have to. This may come as a surprise but Africa hasn’t been left behind. We’re hip (although we still use words like ‘hip’ when not talking about the upper leg), we’re happening and we don’t mind if you bring along some toys.

Swimming pool at Granite Suite: Londolozi

Smart Phone

If you’re anything like me you’ll want to bring your phone along. Granted, almost everywhere you’re staying will have in-room phones. Some of the destinations, particularly in the Kruger National Park, will have poor reception, but there are plenty of uses for it, just don’t let it ring while on a game drive vehicle! How about some of these great apps to help you out (and if these fail you, your Rhino Africa consultant can help).

In Africa you’ll be mesmerised by the night sky. As Pumba famously said in that Lion King movie: “I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.” Luckily while on safari your highly trained ranger will be able to point out most of the major constellations but if you have more than just a passing interest, a stargazing app is a must. If you’re on Android, Google Sky Map is a great and free application that will give you information on all the stars you can see (and even those you can’t). And on IOS you can try Star Walk, which offers advanced features for about $3.

Sometimes you’ll find yourself needing to translate some of the local language. On Android the free Google Translate should serve you well and on IOS try one of the many World Translate apps which are language specific and should cost around a dollar a piece.


Pics taken while on Safari in Africa

Camera

Ok, your phone has a camera but trust me when I tell you Instamatic won’t do that leopard any justice. Whether you’re a hobbyist, a professional or just a happy snapper, you’ll want something along to document this holiday in detail. So here are a few recommendations and forgive the Canon bias, you’ll be able to find a matching camera in your favoured brand. If you have some skills in this department you’ll want the best. The recently launched Canon MK III will fill all your needs including HD video. If you’re more of an enthusiast the Canon 550D is a nice middle ground that shoots video as an added bonus. And if you’re a simple snapper, try the Fujifilm X series of compact fixed focal length cameras.


Binoculars

Many lodges provide these if you need them, but there’s really no substitute for having your own pair. They’ll come in handy for birding and stargazing and are particularly useful when you’re sitting on the patio overlooking a river or waterhole and see something in the distance. Talking from personal experience, on a recent safari we spotted a leopard coming down to drink from the river opposite our room at Lion Sands Ivory Lodge. While the type of binoculars you require will depend on individual needs, Olympus, Nikon and Tasco are a few reliable brands.

If you’re really keen on checking out the stars and game in the distance another option is a small portable spotting scope. So long as you’re in a static position you’ll be able to count the spots on a leopard 500 metres away using something like the Celestron C90 Mak Spotting Scope.

Malachite Kingfisher

While a birding book is great and convenient another option is a birding app. The Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa is an interactive version of the best-selling Sasol Birds of Southern Africa field guide available on IOS. Great features include distribution maps, images and over 630 audible bird calls, so even if you can’t see the bird you can identify it.


Laptop

While it’s beyond the scope of this blog to suggest the best laptop for you. We can tell you that the majority of safari lodges have in room internet access, so you can catch up on your email, check in with work (really… probably not) or upload one of your great safari snaps to the Rhino Africa Facebook page!


Gadgets and Tech tips for an African safari

Kindle

While safaris are exciting, they can also be a great time to do some relaxing. Kick back in your private plunge pool at Singita Boulders Lodge, enjoy a relaxing massage at the Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge spa or catch up on some reading. While I love the feel of a book and I don’t think I’ll ever completely let that go, times they are a changin’. Save on space in your luggage, save some trees and take along a kindle to read as much as you desire.

If you’re looking for some appropriate safari reading, we’ve got you covered, read our blog on the top 25 books about Africa for some great suggestions.


Moleskine

Sure, it’s not technically a gadget or a piece of technological advancement, but it’s always nice to jot down your thoughts. Hemingway wrote some of his best work while on an extended safari in Africa, you too might be inspired.

Don't forget the Moleskin!

It’s a short list. Truth be told, much of your tech related needs will take a back seat while you’re enjoying a safari in Africa. The luxury lodges you’ll stay at will see to all your needs. Maybe you compulsively check the weather, don’t worry – they’ll have you covered, the following days’ weather can be found on your pillow when you return from dinner, along with a chocolate!

And unless you’re undertaking a self-drive tour, it’s unlikely you’ll need a GPS as your transfers will have been planned down to the last detail by your Rhino Africa consultant. Since we’re on the ground in Cape Town while you are on safari, you’ll be sharing our time-zone so if you need any help with anything, use that fancy phone to give your personal travel planner a call and they’ll give you all the help and advice you need.