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“Is there something I am forgetting? Is there something I really should know before traveling to africa?”
Tripod, a small camera bag in addition to your backpack, extra batteries, extra chargers, UV filters, cleaning gear, small on-camera light, small digital recorder, audio cables, a hand-held mic, a point-and-shoot digital camera that shoots video in the same format as your video cam (i.e. 720p/1080p) to use as a back-up and to get stills, lots of extra cards, a portable video storage unit like a NEXTO or similar, a small laptop capable of pushing HD video, reusable zip ties (plastic or velcro), lots of plastic bags of varying sizes, power adapters and several USB jump drives 16GB or larger to store video and stills on to provide back-up redundancy.
Your biggest issue will come with Customs in transporting your gear out of the country and trying to bring it into an African country. In the US depending on your gear, you may be required to draw up Commercial Invoice. Many countries require you to possess a CARNET which is a Merchandise Passport. The ATA Carnet is a temporary merchandise passport that is used to cover Professional Equipment (PE). They can get pretty expensive depending on what kind of gear you’re transporting.
You need to contact your country’s Customs Office before you finalize your plans and find out whether the gear you’re taking will require a CARNET to get out/in your home country and the host country you plan to film in. Also, you may be required to carry insurance which is not a bad idea.
You also have to keep in mind that wherever you go, the local customs official depending on the individual may let you pass without any fuss or go out of their way to make your life miserable. Worst case scenario, customs decides to keep your gear pending appeal. If that happens, with your current resources it’s done. If you got insurance, hopefully you made sure your policy covers such a possibility. If not, either go home or do your best to enjoy your time there. Don’t get bent out of shape and say something that will get you on an episode of ‘Locked Up Abroad’.
It may come down that you don’t need a Carnet or Insurance, but find out from your Customs Office not at the counter at Heathrow or God forbid, in Uganda!