Monday, January 17, 2011

A travel writer’s guide to bush survival…

As a travel writer I do get away on a very regular basis, however I still have not got my packing down to a fine art. I always end up with too many clothes or forgetting some necessary piece of equipment.
In order for this not to happen on a regular basis I end up making lists that can be added to, or subtracted from, depending on the length of the trip.
 There are two items that I will not leave home without...my Montrails that have stood me in good stead for the last 8 years! I have come close to leaving them behind, but when push came to shove I could not part with them...they are probably THE most comfortable shoe I have EVER worn!
 This may look like just a piece of material, but this is actually a "Buff" that is an absolute must for any occasion.It can keep the sun off your head, rinse in cold water and put it around your neck to keep you cool...or wear as a bandana to keep the sweat out of your eyes!
Obviously the nature of the transport I will be using also has an impact on what I will pack.
I have a ‘wet pack’ permanently stocked so that I don’t have to worry about forgetting toothpaste or a toothbrush.
I will not go into what clothing to pack other than to say if you are going into the bush, pack in muted/neutral colours.
There is nothing more annoying that being on a game vehicle with someone dressed as if they were off to the local shopping Mall!
There are no hard and fast rules, but just something to bear in mind.
Seeing that game drives are conducted early in the morning and often late into the night, ALWAYS take warm cloths with you. I usually include a beanie and gloves(the type with the cut off fingers) as well.
There is nothing worse that freezing on a game drive…and the ranger is not going back to camp to fetch warm clothing for you!
There are other items that I find indispensable, no matter how luxurious the camp you are visiting.


Number one on my list is my pillow. In nearly a decade of travel writing I have yet to find a decent pillow at any of the venues I have stayed in.
The closest I got to a pillow that suited me was at a hotel in Port Harcourt in Nigeria!
Make sure that you have a pillow slip that is different to one that you might find in a hotel...I certainly do not want my expensive Simmonds pillow being mistakenly removed by housekeeping





A torch is always useful, especially a torch that can be worn as a headlamp. This type of torch leaves your hands free to read after the generator has been switched off.


Tom Tom GPS…I don’t leave home without it. Even though my wife says that we are losing our in-built sense of direction! I find this particular brand very user friendly and it finds the satellite signals a lot faster than its competition.

Multitool. I usually take two with me…my Swiss army knife that contains a toothpick and my Gerber that has a pair of spring loaded pliers.

Binocs…Again, two pairs. One for my wife and one for me…that way there can be no arguing


 Birdbooks. I currently have the Sasol bird book as an app on my Black Berry. But a good bird book is always useful…especially if your cell battery dies.
Hat…a necessity 



Sunscreen…even on an overcast day it should go out with you. Put it on generously as you do not want to end up sunburnt, sore and unhappy



Lip ice (balm)…I always make sure that I have several tubes with me



Camera and batteries. People who do not pack enough batteries, then run around looking for replacements at the last moment always amaze me. Surely you know what sort of battery life to expect from your camera?
If you have the rechargeable type, remember to pack all the necessary cables and chargers!
The same goes for memory cards…you can never have too many!


This list is by no means the definitive one, merely a guide to help jog your memory while you pack.

If you feel you can add anything to this list, please mail me: david.batzofin@gmail.com

1 comment:

Colin said...

Lovely musings David