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Spotting Scope?


campsafari2015

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campsafari2015

Has anyone brought a spotting scope?
 

We are staying at Lemala Kuria Hills and Lemala Mpingo Ridge and Tortilis Manyara. All of them have really expansive views that I wonder if we are going to want our scope while we are at the lodge. It would be set up on our verandas and left during the day, probably.

 

However, we’re also planning to stay out all day, so I am wondering if it would not be worth it because it would only be dawn and dusk use. 
 

We also can only have 33 pounds packed because of the flight out of the Serengeti. We don’t need a ton of clothes because we have laundry at nearly every location we are staying. Bring it? Leave it?

Edited by campsafari2015
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I don’t know these camps, but some camps have a scope already set up for guests to use. Perhaps you could ask them?

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campsafari2015
17 minutes ago, TonyQ said:

I don’t know these camps, but some camps have a scope already set up for guests to use. Perhaps you could ask them?

Thanks, I have seen a lot of camps with a shared scope, but for hygienic purposes and wanting exclusive use from our veranda, I thought maybe best to just bring mine 🤔

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kittykat23uk

As a birder, sometimes I take a scope, sometimes I don't. If you're out all day, you'll want to be out from dawn until after dusk ideally. If it's all going to be vehicle based viewing, I would suggest a scope would get little, if any, use. 

 

On the other hand, if you're going to be on foot, birding, or have time to scan from a vantage point it may be worth taking a scope. I normally pack mine in my camera bag and risk the tripod in the hold luggage. 

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Soukous

If you are restricted about what you can carry then I would choose to leave the scope at home. Save the weight of the scope and tripod. 

I have taken one with me on several trips I made when driving myself and found that, despite good intentions, I just never used it.

 

It will be a lot simpler to take a packet of antiseptic wipes and use them on a communal scope that might be in camp.

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inyathi

@campsafari2015

I presume that you are talking about a full-sized scope, unless you are carrying a tripod anyway for photography, then I wouldn’t bother, with a big scope and a tripod you are adding a fair amount of weight, if you are staying out all day, I can’t see you getting enough use out of it, to justify taking it. If you are going out with a packed breakfast, rather than having breakfast in camp, if it was me, I would want to have had my wake-up cup of coffee and be heading for the car as soon as it is light enough to see properly and there won’t be that much time to use your scope at the end of the day. As suggested if there is a communal scope I would just use antiseptic wipes.

 

With regard to scopes generally

 

When I have been on birding tours with a professional guide, they always have a scope, it is really an essential piece of kit that they have to have, as it is the best way to try and show a group of clients a bird, and they can have it set up and focused on a bird so quickly that there is really little point in anyone else in the group having one. Normally I never take a scope, as I have always preferred not to travel with a tripod, once birding in Thailand, I took one because we visited one place on the coast to look at waders and then it made sense to have more than one scope. If you were say going birding in Namibia and visiting the saltpans around Walvis Bay, then you’d want a scope, otherwise in Africa I’ve always got on without one. For looking at flocks of waders and waterfowl a scope is very useful, for other birding unless you are very skilled at using one, like a pro-guide, I think life is easier without one, unless you are into digiscoping

 

On my last visit to Zakouma NP, I thought a scope might be useful because of the large concentrations of waterfowl in Zakouma, in case there might be an unusual wader or duck hiding in amongst them and because there would always be wildlife visible from camp. I decided to take a Nikon miniscope, as I could rearrange my camera bag to fit it in, it was a compromise as the magnification is not as great as big scope, but it’s much better than my 100-400 lens. Since I don’t travel with a tripod for photography, I further compromised by only taking a monopod, this was okay because the miniscope is light enough to use on a monopod and I could use it in in the open vehicle much more easily than a tripod. The drawback is you can’t get a bird or other animal in the scope and then offer someone else a look, as you can with a scope on a tripod.  My main reason for having a monopod, is I find it useful if I want to take some video, handholding a camera with my 100-400 to take video is pretty tiring and not ideal. I’m debating whether or not to take a scope on my next visit to Chad, it won’t be much use at the lodge in Zakouma, but the end of Feb beginning of March when I'll be in Zakouma, would be a better time to be scanning bird flocks, as there are more likely to still be some migrants around. But I think if I were to take one, I would want a tripod, but then a tripod is not very practical in a vehicle, I’d also want the lightest tripod I can find, that isn’t too light to use for photography with a relatively heavy lens. Possibly the lightest travel tripod available, is one made by Peak Design but it has a head that won’t pan, to work with scope you’d have to attach a different head, which I think defeats the object of such a light tripod, and with a camera, not being able to pan would be no good for taking panoramas or shooting video. I’ve so seldom used a tripod for photography, that I don’t know whether I would find having even a very light one a nuisance or not. It would though make taking panoramas easier and if I did have one then I’d be more inclined to take a scope, but I wouldn't able to fit a big scope in my camera bag and I already carry one camera separately, I wouldn't really want to carry a big scope separately as well. 

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offshorebirder

@campsafari2015 - I have taken a spotting scope and tripod on 3 out of 4 of my safaris.   

 

If you are really worried about the weight, you can use spotting scopes on beanbags, either on the window/roof/photo shelf of a vehicle, or on a rock, log, etc.  away from a vehicle.   I imagine a table or chair arm could be used from one's tent or a safari camp's common area.  

 

 

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campsafari2015

Thank you all! With your wisdom, I decided to leave it at home. We touched down an hour ago and are ready to get underway!

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wilddog

have a great time.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Galana

My scope is great for watching shipping from my home. I have never taken it away. Too much hassle.

And besides there is always some keen type at a sighting who will be delighted to let me have a peek through his/hers should I feel the urge.;)

Besides these fancy 'big zoom' Bridge cameras pack a big lens to double as a temporary scope so you can eliminate that suspicious looking twig in the next county.

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