PACKED LIVES

Chris Breen, managing director of Wildlife Worldwide holidays, became hooked on wildlife when running safaris in Zambia
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The Independent Travel
Last year I went to Australia, Ethiopia, the United States, Canada, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia twice, Zimbabwe and Botswana, splitting my time between watching wildlife and photography and checking out wilderness camps for our clients.

I can't sleep on flights without earplugs and a tatty old British Airways eye mask. My sturdy Billingham leather and canvas camera bag is my carry- on case that goes into the bush with me. Its many pockets take film - at least two rolls a day for somewhere new - tickets, documents, files, top of the range Leica 8 x 32 binoculars, laptop, camera, Psion organiser. It's better than those multi-pocketed waistcoats for the bush in which I just wear shirt and shorts, plus calf-length Timberland boots worn with one pair of thin and one pair of thick socks so I don't get blisters.

I take slides for my November lecture tour and my brochure. Since starting wearing contact lenses I use a lightweight autofocus camera with 500mm lens and the most powerful flash available for night-time shots, which are often of lions, leopards, and owls.

My notebook computer is perfect for writing up places on the spot. The Psion acts as my diary and database and I take it on game treks in order to make notes. I use a soft, open-out flat bag that can be carried as a rucksack and I travel light, with jeans, short- and long-sleeved shirts, two pairs of shorts and a sweatshirt, though I added a Timberland overcoat and five sweaters for the Falklands. I put out everything a week before leaving since trips involve long panic days at the office before I go and I throw everything into the bag in the an hour before I depart.

My case does get weighed down with books, usually bird and mammal field guides if I'm on my own; plus tree and butterfly guides and a couple of locally written history and cultural books if I'm guiding a group. When going to Africa I also take school books for the children.

Extras include a mini torch, medical kit and paracetamol, insect repellents which I always forget to apply, lots of sweets and crunchy bars from Boots, and since I got lost one night in Zambia with my wife, she insists I carry a compass.

My Swiss army penknife, with all its gadgets, is invaluable especially for opening beer bottles. In the bush you can open bottles one with the next till you reach the last one, then you need the side of a Toyota landcruiser.

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