Back in the late 1980’s, when I wasn’t even old enough to grow much of a beard, travel opportunities to Namibia for men of my age were not only free, but they included board and lodging as well as an entire outfit of clothing. This came courtesy of the South African Army. Included in their irrefusable offer were two pairs of boots, socks, underwear, pants, shirts, jackets, blankets, eating utensils, bags to carry everything, food, an R4 assault rifle and enough propaganda to rearrange the thinking of even the most liberal minds.

Somehow I managed to avoid the government sponsored tour of what was then known as South West Africa and did my national service in South Africa packing stores and driving trucks near army HQ in Pretoria instead. We supplied most of the hardware being used by our compatriots up on the border between South West Africa and the Cuban/Russian funded country of Angola. Everything from beds to biscuits and bullets came through our stores and got sent up to the border by truck.

A lot of my friends served there and apart from one guy who lost an arm and suffered multiple other injuries after a mortar exploded in the armoured vehicle he was riding in, they all had the same thing to say: the place was indescribably beautiful. The soldiers who served there had a much easier time of things than we did. They grew their hair long, played volleyball all day, spent a lot of time drinking beer and turned their skins brown under the abundant South West African sunshine. All while suckers like me who served in the Ordnance Services Corps often worked 18-hour days loading and off-loading trucks. Going to SWA, whilst fraught with danger, seemed to be a better deal even if it meant you’d only see civilization once or twice in a two-year period.

Fast forward some 25 years, South West Africa is now Namibia and I find myself provisioning another trip to the place of the big skies. Except this time the packing and provisions are totally different. No more tent pegs and guide ropes, or rifles and bullets. The packing I’m doing now is for our safari to Namaqualand and Namibia. I get to go there for real this time. Happiness! We’re also spending a few days in Cape Town prior to heading up the road to Namibia, which is great because I haven’t been there since circa 2000.

Namibia is a huge country and unless you go to Mongolia, you’re not going to find another country that is as sparsely populated as this place is. There are less than 3 Namibians per square kilometer of land within their borders. Preparing yourself for a photography trip to this vast and empty wilderness requires a level of fastidiousness unlike most other trips you’re likely to make. You can’t just run out to a shop to pick up things you forgot to bring and you definitely don’t want to forget things that are going to help you make this trip the best you’ve ever been on.

Because of the variety of photo opportunities we’re going to have on this trip, I need to plan my gear, clothing and peripherals very carefully. On previous safaris my output has been mostly documentary in nature. This time, however, I’m aiming to push myself to produce a collection of images that I hope to bring to print. I also want to make an eBook of the adventure, so there is a degree of documentary type photography required too. Planning is everything.

I will be taking two camera systems with me. Nikon DSLR system and Olympus OM-D based mirrorless system. On the DSLR side is my gracefully aging D700 and by the time I go it is likely to be joined by the new Nikon D7100. I have a few lenses for each system, but deciding which ones to bring is going to be a tough exercise. I need to look at each photo opportunity and decide from there what’s coming with and what’s staying behind.

What clothing to take? 

I’m a bit of a clothing nut. Been that way ever since I lost 20kgs last year, so this is almost as important to me as the photography gear! Just kidding.

The challenge with this trip is that I need to take enough clothing to last me for 3 weeks, plus because it is still winter in Southern Africa in August, said clothing needs to provide adequate warmth for the cooler desert nights. I have very chilly memories of the mining town Kimberley in the Northern Cape from my time during basic army training. Sub-zero Celsius temperatures are common in the evenings and with the way weather patterns are going these days it wouldn’t surprise me if they are still very fresh by the time we travel through Namaqualand in early September.

A characteristic that is typical of Southern Africa is that in winter time temperatures can vary by up to 30C in a single day depending on where you visit. The Namib Desert is a good example of this. In the army we would wake up at about 3:30am to find -5C temperatures where the water in the fire buckets outside our bungalow had developed a thick layer of ice on top (resulting in instant demerits and subsequent PT sessions, btw). I’d pull on long johns, my long sleeve thermal vest, army uniform, bush jacket and on particularly cold days we’d all have to wear overcoats too. Then, by lunchtime the temperature is up to around 25C and you’re dying of heat in the fields with nowhere to peel off your layers. Good times.

My plan with this trip is to find clothing that can keep me warm in the morning, but not leave me wilting by midday. I don’t think thermals are in order so jeans will suffice, together with comfortable boots, a T-shirt and perhaps a fleece lined hoodie or weatherproof jacket. Gloves for the early morning might be a plan. And a beanie. And some jerseys. There’s this leather jacket I have been trying to justify spending money on too. They’re

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useless where I live, but will definitely be welcome on trips like this.

I am not planning on using a photographer’s vest for this trip as I will probably bring a small camera bag like the ThinkTank Retrospective 5 to carry the stuff I need, when I need it.

Flying To Cape Town

Apart from a horrendous bad weather flying experience that one time saw me spending 6 hours in the air between Johannesburg and Durban (normally a 45 minute flight) and back to Johannesburg again, the 2 hour flight to Cape Town is about as long as it gets for me flying internally in South Africa. I used to do this trip regularly when I worked in the real world and after about 60 agitated minutes into the flight I would always wonder how people manage to stay calm during long haul +12 hour stints between continents. Medication, I guess. Lots of liquid medication of an age restricted nature.

I remember this one time we landed at Cape Town airport into the teeth of what is often referred to as the “Cape Doctor”. That’s the locals’ nickname for winds that are not quite strong enough to be classified as cyclones, but strong enough to leave you needing aforementioned medication after disembarking the plane. On that particular flight the pilot came in to land in a seemingly sideways manner, skateboard style. I was almost expecting him to be standing at the exit with a goofy smile saying something like “Later dudes” as we staggered off onto terra firma. I guess by now you can tell that I am not a relaxed air passenger.

Anyway, flying is a small price to pay for enjoying a 3-week refrain from the monotony of my life’s regular programming. It does, however, bring with it the conundrum of how to get your gear from point A to point B with minimal risk and without raising the weigh-in flag of the check-in staff. On previous trips I have not had any issues with the weight of my carry-on. Last time I think it tipped the scales at 15kgs, but because the size of the bag I was carrying (Lowepro Nova 200AW) was relatively inconspicuous I got away with it. This time I might not be so lucky. Instead of a netbook I now have a 13” MacBook Pro. It doesn’t fit into the 200AW. I’d also like to take the Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS and some other lenses that will not fit into any of my current bags.

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I’m looking into the Pelican 1510 hard case with padded dividers and a lid organiser that provides space for the MacBook Pro. A couple of our Safarians from last year were using them on our trip to Sabi Sabi and they had no issues with bringing them onboard the plane. They are approved as carry-on on most airlines. Inside each case they had several lenses, including 500mm f/4 teles. The kit I’m bringing will definitely be over the carry-on weight limit of 8kgs, but at least if I am forced to check it in, I can lock it and send it on its way with a kiss and a prayer that it will find its way back to me when I land in Cape Town. If it doesn’t I might need to re-think my involvement with air travel in future.

Data management on tour

This is an area of photography that can keep you awake at night. How do you protect your pixels on the road?

There is a school of thought that suggests one should simply buy a lot of memory cards and not bother with downloads and back-ups. That’s all very good and well, but experience has shown me that said memory cards, being slight of stature, have a tendency to grow legs and seek out broader horizons than the confines of my camera bag. Losing one is not entirely unlikely on a trip like this. Having many of them, whilst being a good idea, is only one part of minimising the risks of dealing with data on the road, particularly if you’re on the road for an extended period of time.

We’ve never done a safari quite as comprehensive as this one before. For me personally it’s going to be 3 weeks of photography in a lot of different places and without much time to do editing inbetween rest stops. For those staying on to do the Etosha wildlife extension they are going to be on the road for just on a month. If you’re shooting around 16GB’s a day it means that you’re going to need close to half a terabyte worth of cards to avoid re-using any of them. Suddenly having loads of cards to cover all those days doesn’t seem like such a cheap exercise, especially if you want decent quality cards like SanDisk Extreme. If you have to split between CF and SD it doesn’t get much easier. I could buy a couple of netbooks for less money than 500GB worth of memory cards locally. I don’t intend doing that, but am just illustrating the point that I need a different strategy for dealing with my data on the road.

I’ll have the MacBook Pro which has a mostly unused 500GB hard drive, plus I will also have a 640GB external drive (USB 2.0) and I will also take another 1TB (USB 3.0) external backup drive to use with Time Machine on the MacBook while I am sleeping. This gives me three locations with all my images on each. I’ll keep one drive in a jacket pocket, another in my ThinkTank Retrospective 5 camera bag and the MacBook will live inside the Pelican 1510. Unless I am beset by a series of terribly unfortunate events, I should return from safari with a full set of images from each day. Three times over.

So, this brings me around to what photography gear I need to bring. These are some of the things we’ll be photographing while on safari this year. Each opportunity gives me options for using different gear.

The Great White Sharks

The first job for my future D7100 is probably going to be on our Great White Shark expedition with Elsa Hoffmann. We’re getting the opportunity to go out on a research vessel near Gansbaai (which is 2 hours out of Cape Town) to see these huge fish launch themselves out of the water as they attack dummy seals towed behind the boat. Elsa recommends using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for this trip so with the DX sensor I’ll get 50% closer and still have some resolution for cropping if that is still too far.  The D7100 will also give me a bit of high speed at 6 FPS. My D700 is capable of getting up to 8fps with the right battery in it, but I don’t have one, so the D7100 will most likely be the weapon of choice for this exercise. High-speed cards would also be needed here, depending on the buffer size of the D7100.

When I first got the D700 I swore that I would never use a DX camera again, but after much thinking and analysis, coupled with some terrific advice from my friends on Nikongear.com, I have come to the conclusion that a DX system with telephoto lenses is better than an FX system with the same lenses. Reduced field of view being the obvious hook on which to hang far off stuff. FX is great for wide angles, so my current school of thought says it is better to have both systems than to be fully encamped in only one. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

There is also the opportunity to get into a cage submerged behind the boat on a separate trip and see the sharks from under the water. Initially I was keen to do this and have been thinking about getting a GoPro to take some HD video of the experience, however, I have very vivid childhood memories of just how cold those Western Cape waters are. Add to that the reality of it still being winter at the time of our trip I’ll have to admit that I’ve lost a bit of me bottle for putting that notch on my belt. Maybe I should just take a monopod, put the GoPro on the end of it and dunk it under the water when the big beasties swim by? Hopefully they won’t mistake it for a fish. (although it would make for some amazing footage if I could retract the GoPro in time).

So, gear for this part of the trip is looking like this:

Definite: Nikon D7100 + 70-200mm f/2.8
Maybe: GoPro Hero 3 + monopod, Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 45-175mm Lumix
Other: Seasickness tablets.

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Cultural Cape Town

Cape Town is a vibrant, multi-cultural hub of life that is often compared to San Francisco in terms of its bohemian undertones. Many South Africans from other cities refer to the Capetonians as “those weirdo’s with the flat mountain in the background”. They also talk funny and use the word “like” as a prefix and suffix to every sentence. Only partly true. In all seriousness though, it is a very beautiful city that has a lot to offer its visitors from a cultural point of view.

The Cape Winelands is a meander through various wineries where visitors can indulge their palette and sample some of the best wines in the world. Personally I’m not much of a wine aficionado. Being from the less cultured, beer infused and inherently more laid back East Coast, my idea of a good wine is one that doesn’t come in a box and has a cork instead of a screw-off top. The last time I drank red wine I had a hangover that lasted three and a half days, so getting me to imbibe that stuff again will require more than a little bit of will bending. White wine I can handle.

Photographically the winelands tour will include some architectural photo opportunities, as we will be inside wine cellars filled with old oak barrels, plus if the weather is good there are lots of Cape Dutch styled buildings and surrounding mountains to shoot. Hopefully the weather will be good, although I don’t hold out much hope for that. The Western Cape is the opposite of the rest of South Africa in that winter is its wet season.

Gear wise my thinking for this part of the tour is that I should be as light as possible, so the main player will be the OM-D together with my spread of 4 lenses for that system, namely the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye, 14-45mm Lumix45-175mm Lumix and 45mm Lumix/Leica macro.

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I also want to take a small tripod for this part of the trip so my littleVelbon CF-435 with Sunwayfoto FB-28 will be the ideal travel partner.

Here’s my wine-tasting gear list:

Olympus OM-D + 14-45mm + 45mm macro + 45-175mm + 7.5mm fisheye
Velbon CF-435 + Sunwayfoto FB-28 ball head

All of this, except the tripod, I hope to fit in a bag no bigger than the ThinkTank Retrospective 5 (which I will keep empty in my checked flight luggage until I can split up the kit out of the Pelican 1510 when I arrive in Cape Town).

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Up The Mountain

I last went up this great big chuck of plateau when I was 15 years old. That was in 1983. Apparently the mountain hasn’t changed much since then, but they have more modernized cable cars now, the kinds that rotate as you ascend. So you can see your life flashing before you from a variety of angles if you’re as untrusting of heights as I am.

What I remember most from that boyhood visit was that the temperature at the top of Table Mountain was considerably lower than when we were in the car park at the cable car entrance. I also remember finally making sense of the geography of Cape Town while up there, seeing the harbor in relation to the city and of course Robben Island a ways off into the Atlantic. As soon as we were back on the ground that sense of orientation went off into the ether. I still have difficulty knowing North from South or East from West when visiting the Mother City.

In Cape Town spatial relationships between the land and the sea are lost on those of us from the East where the sun rises over water and sets over land. Depending on where you are in Cape Town the sun can rise and set over land or over sea, so to me it feels like it’s morning all day long. This is a terribly distressing situation made especially more so when you realize that while CT is on the same time zone as the rest of the country, the light is two hours behind what most people would consider a reasonable hour for it to depart. On a long ago business trip in the summertime I recall siting at the V&A Waterfront having sundowners thinking I would call my wife and say hi. The voice that croaked back at me on the other end of the connection had been asleep for an hour already! I wonder if the parents of small children in Cape Town use a certain type of medicine to get their kids to bed by 8pm in summer time?

Photographically, going up the mountain lends itself to landscapes and panoramas. A tripod is a must and I guess lens choice comes down to one’s personal preferences when it comes to making landscapes. You can go wide or narrow from up there. Personally I’m leaning to the wide. My biggest decision though, will come down to whether I want to use the D700 with my Sigma 12-24mm zoom, or stick with the lightweight micro four thirds system. The advantages of the latter are, I think, too great to overlook. It will just be so much simpler to work with smaller gear on top of the mountain. The Samyang 7.5mm fisheye should be able to give me some pretty decent panorama options together with the Hemi de-fishing software. I want to try and do one of those weird “little planet” stitching shots from up on top.

So, here’s the gear list for the mountain:

Olympus OM-D + 7.5mm fisheye + 14-45mm Lumix
Nikon D700 + Sigma 12-24mm
Velbon CF-435 + Sunwayfoto FB-28

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Chapman’s Peak & Cape Point

There are some big gear decisions to be made for this part of the tour. These are some of the most picturesque scenes in Africa, bringing together mountains, ferocious seas and quite possibly inclement weather, with dramatic skies. My intent is going to be predominantly focused on capturing these landscapes. Tripod is mandatory. I’m in two minds as to whether I should bring both my tripods or just stick it out with the small Velbon CF-435 and Sunwayfoto FB-28 ball head combo.

Strong winds are always a possibility in Cape Town at this time of year, so stability is a key factor to be considered in producing landscape photography. I can use the supplied hook to anchor the Velbon tripod with my camera bag if needed. Height isn’t so much of an issue with that combo, but the ballhead, whilst rated to hold up to 12kgs, isn’t going to be optimal with a D700 and a 12-24mm Sigma zoom lens on it by my reckoning. I guess I could pack my other ball head, namely the Kirk BH-3. After all, two heads are always better than one. But what about the weight? That adds half a kilo to my checked luggage for the flight to Cape Town and I will already be very stretched because of the weight of winter clothing. Is it worth packing it? I’ll have to mull this over a bit, but in honestly I don’t think so. I think the Sunwayfoto FB-28 will be OK if I am careful.

The “gear justification gene” in me is shouting something internally about buying the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 wide angle and using that together with the OM-D as my landscapes solution instead of making all this fuss about tripods and ball heads. His weaker cousin, the “financial responsibility gene” is responding in hushed tones about it being a long year. So much internal conflict.

Gear wise for this element of our trip I reckon the following will be the answer:

Nikon D700 + Sigma 12-24mm + MC-10 remote (with adapter)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 +  Panasonic 14-45mm + Samyang 7.5mm
Velbon CF-435 Tripod + Sunwayfoto FB-28 ball head
Maybe: Manfrotto O55C tripod + Kirk BH-3 ball head

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Flower Power in Namaqualand

Every year, around about the onset of spring, which has been fortuitously planned to coincide with our tour, the semi-arid region of the Northern Cape province known as Namaqualand, does the hippy-hippy-shake thing. Well, ok, there’s no shaking but if there were still hippies around here they’d be saying “Far out” and “groovy man” as they run around hairy and naked in seemingly endless fields of wild flowers. A botanist’s wet dream. Dear me, that sounds dreadful, but it’s the kind of place that will have lovers of flowers quite excited.

There are two general approaches to photographing this phenomenon: go closer or go wider. If you’re into the detail of the flowers then you’re probably going to want to shoot them with a macro lens. I am useless at shooting flowers, but I will certainly give it a good try, so the 45/2.8 Leica/Lumix macro lens will come in handy together with the Velbon tripod and Sunwayfoto FB-28 head. I will also try and get creative with that Samyang fisheye lens. Hopefully the spirit of hippie-ness won’t overpower me and our Safarians will be spared the indignity of me prancing around au-natural in the fields of wild flowers. No promises though. This road trip is like a rite of passage. Anything is possible.

Gear for the flowers (all that flower talk has me light headed, so light we’ll stay):

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + all the lenses
Velbon CF-435 + Sunwayfoto FB-28

Enter the Namib

Sounds a bit like a Bruce Lee movie, doesn’t it? The Namib Desert is the oldest desert in the world. Its inhabitants are exponentially trillions upon trillions upon trillions of reddish sand particles that are shaped by wind into massive dunes. You’ll find the biggest sand dunes in the world here. They also lend themselves to some awesome photographic opportunities.

Some years ago I came across a gallery showing of black and white landscape work done in Namibia by a photographer who goes by the name of Bruce Mortimer (Google him). I was instantly blown away. Ever since then I have been itching to try my hand at photographing these ancient sands and deserted mining towns that dot the landscape of Namibia. At one point I was quite serious about getting a medium format film camera such as the Mamiya RB67 to shoot some slide film while there. Fortunately that phase passed almost as soon as it arrived. I couldn’t imagine myself shooting film again. Too much hassle.

The main point of going to Namibia is to take in the landscapes and then photograph them so that we can remember what we’ve seen there. Resolution is an important element of getting the best results, so while a Nikon D800E would probably be the right tool for this job, for me it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense as I wouldn’t need it when I got back to civilization and re-commenced taking photos of semi-drunken, bored conference delegates. I see myself instead using all the cameras I’ll take, but I will probably spend a lot of time with the D7100 (assuming I buy one) and the Sigma 12-24mm über wide zoom. It’ll still be the equivalent of 18mm on DX, which a few years ago was wide enough to make me happy. The veteran D700 FX will of course be a shadow option for when I need seriously wide stuff. It will be interesting to compare the results from the two Nikon bodies using the same lens. I’m also not afraid to try some landscape work with the OM-D and its glass.

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Etosha 

About 6 hours north of Windhoek is the Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s most well known game sanctuaries. Here our Safarians will be photographing a wide variety of African game, including the Big 5 but also many of the other animals that you don’t get to see in places like the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands.

There’s a lot of Springboks up there. I haven’t seen one of those in the flesh since my army days. Back then our Maintenance Unit HQ was right next door to the State President’s Guard and they had a live springbok running around their unit grounds. It was their mascot, since at that time it was the national animal of SA. Well, sadly this little “bokkie” met with an unfortunate end at the hands of a group of Citizen Force members who had been called up to do a short camp with us. Unsatisfied with the chow coming out of the mess hall, some of the campers hunted and killed the State President’s mascot and then proceeded to braai (BBQ) it. I’m not sure what the outcome was, but we didn’t get too many campers joining us after that incident. Our neighbours also escalated their guarding endeavours shortly afterwards! These days the hunting of springboks is limited to the rugby fields – the national rugby team is still known as the Springboks and on occasion visiting teams go home with their scalps, leaving us miserable.

The difference in landscape between Etosha and the reserves we’re more accustomed to visiting in South Africa is vast. Out in Etosha there is considerably less vegetation and hardly any elevation variation, which makes photography a lot easier. The downside is that because it is a National Park, off road driving is not permitted. This means a telephoto lens is a must. The longer the better. Ideally I would love to have a 400mm f/2.8 but I will have to make do with the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 with both 1.4 and 2.0 teleconverters. On the D7100 this will give me up to the equivalent of a 900mm f/5.6 using the 2.0 TC or a 630mm f/4 with the 1.4 TC. Both should be perfectly adequate for the kinds of photos we’re looking to get in Etosha.

Gear for this part of the trip:

Nikon D7100 + Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS + 1.4 +2.0 teleconverters
Nikon D700 + Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS for the closer things

Other Stuff I Need

Apart from the clothing and hardware, there are some other items that I will need to take with me to ensure a hassle-free trip.

Flashlight
I recently bought one of those LED Lenser L5 flashlights. This thing is quite small, but extremely powerful. It might come in handy during some night photography and of course in lodges where outside lighting is minimal. I recall getting quite lost at Phophonyane Falls in Swaziland back in 2009. It was pitch black by the time we arrived there and trying to find my way around in the dark was a mixture of comedy and exasperation. An alternative to the handheld flashlight would be a headlamp, but to be honest, while that is probably the more sensible option, I’d prefer not to have to strap anything to my head.

Gear ties
While I was buying the flashlight I came across these very cool little Nite Ize that come in different sizes and colours. They have a rubberised coating and can be twisted together to hold things in position. These will come in very handy on safari, not only to secure my stuff together, but also to possibly tether my OM-D or Nikon flash units to places where tripods don’t go. Some of the ties are long enough to do that safely. And they’re pretty cheap too.

Multi-tool
I’m a sucker for most things bright and shiny, but pocketknives hold a special  allure for me. Over the years I’ve had many pocket knives, most of which seem to find their way into boxes that seldom see daylight. My late father had a habit of confiscating them from me, usually citing parental concern as the major contributing factor to said removal. This motive wore kind of thin when I was in my 20’s and 30’s but when I look back now, I loved nothing more than to give bright and shiny pocket knives and manly things like that to my Dad. He died unexpectedly barely a month after our first safari in 2009 but he let me know that he was very proud of what I had managed to accomplish with my websites. A few years after my Mom died he did a road trip to Namibia with a friend of his and as with everybody else who goes there, he spoke animatedly of the things they had seen and done in the big outdoors. I think I will buy a really nice pocketknife for this trip and name it after my Dad. Not sure yet whether I should get a Victorinox or a Leatherman. Of course I will put it in with the checked luggage otherwise it may suffer confiscation of a more permanent nature when I fly to Cape Town.

Sunscreen
“Ladies & Gentlemen of the class of ’99. Wear Sunscreen.” Baz Luhrman incorporated this inspiration article by Mary Schmich into his 1999 album Something For Everybody. It’s very good advice. We probably won’t see too much sun in Cape Town, but once we head north I expect that sunny skies will be the order of the day. Factor 30 should be enough protection for me, those who have fairer complexions should consider something stronger. I usually have a hat on safari too, however, transporting them in luggage is not a good idea. Neither is wearing them in cities. Like people in Cape Town might mistake me for a film star, like.

Sunglasses

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I believe it was Ritchie Samboro from Bon Jovi who said you can never have enough guitars or sunglasses. Probably about the only thing he ever said that I might agree with. Ray Ban Wayfarers have accompanied me just about everywhere since my days in the army. They never seem to go out of style. I have 3 pairs of them. They are all the original 5022 frames, but only one pair has lenses that are original Bosch&Lomb. The others are fitted with prescription lenses that are now way past their usefulness, having been fitted circa 1992.

I have many other pairs of sunglasses too, some cheap and some not so cheap. Last year when I went to the Top Gear Festival here in Durban there was a stall selling the official SBK range of sunglasses and one pair in particular almost found their way to me. They had interchangeable lenses, including some of those yellow night driving lenses. I have often seen these being used by people on TV but until I tried on a pair I had no idea how much of an improvement they make to visibility when you are driving at night. Definitely something I would like to try since I am sure we might be doing some night driving on this trip.

And Finally…
When I started writing this article a few weeks ago I had no idea it would run to over 5500 words! Are you still here? A lot of the excitement with any trip has to do with the gearing up and hopefully the anecdotes and thinking behind my gearing up for this trip has been of interest and amusement to you.

Getting enough interest for this trip to happen has taken over 4 years. I was thrilled when it sold out in under 2 weeks after I first advertised it on NG and also very pleasing to me was that three quarters of the people who are joining us were on safari with us in 2012 too. I am certain that once we get back from this one and begin sharing our adventure stories and images with the community here we will have a lot more interest in doing the trip again next year. In fact, Pepe is in the process of making reservations for 2014, so if you’re up for it, be sure to drop us a line to secure your spot. As with this trip we will only have 8 spaces available.