BINOCULARS – A SAFARI GOER’S GUIDE

July 14th 2014  |  Photography Safaris, Shop  |  by  Richard Smith
Set of three Swarovski binoculars for safari

A feature in an old issue of Wanderlust, which I was reading over the weekend, has started me thinking about the best binoculars for safaris.

Do I Need My Own Binoculars On Safari?

We often get questions regarding binoculars when clients are looking through the holiday packing list – ‘Is it really necessary to have a pair of binoculars each?’ or ‘Can we borrow some from the lodge/guide’ or ‘We’re about to buy some binoculars for the family, do we really need to spend £75 each’

You will need a pair of binoculars each on safari. You won’t be able to borrow them I’m afraid. However you don’t necessarily need to spend £75 each.

What Are The Best Binocular Makes?

Very good binoculars do make the difference between wonderful game viewing and struggling to see things in half light or at a great distance. They are expensive, but they will last a lifetime if looked after. The top models are generally regarded to be those by Swarovski (normally top of a safari guide’s wish list), and those by Zeiss and Nikon are also highly rated.

What Are The Simple Questions To Ask?

At a general level you need to think about a couple of things:

– how big do I want them to be?
– how much do I want to pay?

Size of binoculars for safari holidays is generally dependent on the size of the front lens; the second figure in a description of a pair of binoculars e.g. 7 x 35 where the 7 is the magnification and the 35 the size of the front lens.

The bigger the front lens the better the light gathering and therefore the sharpness of the image particularly in the half light of early morning safaris or evening wildlife drives. However if your binoculars are too big they become heavy or too big to slip in your pocket and carry all the time, particularly on a walking safari. It’s a balance between them giving a sharp image of the animal you are looking at in the distance and being a pain to have with you.

What Should I Pay?

Ignoring the £3 a pair ‘binoculars’ you get with 20 litres of petrol at a garage, you can pay anything from £15 a pair through to almost £1,000.

For your first safari holiday, you may decide to stay at the lower end and see whether what you get suits you, progressing up if you feel you want something which offers you more. Both Jessops and Cotswold Outdoor hold fairly impressive binocular ranges and have impressed us in the office with their customer service.

Want To See An Updated Article?

I wrote this updated article in February 2016 on The Best Binoculars For A Safari Holiday

In the new article I talked to some of our favourite guides about their binoculars and included a set of statistics on the binoculars safari guides use and those they think are the best.

What’s Next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a safari holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Please just send us an email or give us a call.

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