To meet wild animals, I use the best in terms of equipment.

When I go on a hike for several days, I take my 100 liters Army Backpack to contain all my camping gear. And to help me hike, I use carbon walking sticks.

In this big backpack, I slip in my ultra-light MSR Tent, my ultra-light Thermarest self inflating and very resistant mattress, my Sleeping Bag which is adapted to low temperatures. I am chilly and I prefer to have a sleeping bag too hot than not enough. If the temperature gets too warm, I just open the zipper.

As for clothes, I always need waterproof items, namely: the Jacket, the Over Pants and the Hiking shoes, of course!

When we are several days’ walk from civilization, we cannot take the risk to get wet in case of rain! The chance of hypothermia would be too great.

To orient myself, I always take with me at least a Bracelet Compass.

And when I go for long hikes, I take a Garmin eTrex 30 GPS.

For the heat, I use a Long sleeved technical T-shirt to wick away perspiration and usually one or two layers of Fleece jackets depending on the outside temperature.

To be invisible to the animals and thus be able to approach them as close as possible, I cover myself the whole body in camouflage. I use a Jacket, Pants, but also Gloves and a Hood.

Covering your face and your hands makes a big difference and you will sometimes be surprised to be able to approach species that are usually very shy!

Regarding the optics, I opt for the Swarovski EL 10 x 32 WB Binoculars because they are quite compact, light and the optical quality is simply incredible.

When I do not travel too far from home or when I am transported, as for my African expedition, I use the Swarovski Spotting Scope Set ATX 25-60×65 which is, in my opinion, the best in the world. I take it with a Carbone Tripod because I always favour the lightness.

Finally, for night-time observations, I mainly use the Petzl Nao Head Lamp. It is powerful, light and it keeps the batteries load for long thanks to its automatic regulation system.

Using a headlamp allows me to keep both hands free to use my binoculars at the same time in case the animal is a bit far away.

This is what I often did in Africa at the campsite. I observed the lions and hyenas walking around the tent.

And for long distance observations (over 300 meters), I used the LED Lenser MT18 Lampe.

Remember that when you point the eyes of animals, it is better to put a red removable filter on the lamp to less disturb them!

Happy explorations!

Jerry Swift.

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