PACKING FOR YOUR SAFARI
One of the most frequently asked questions is what to pack for a safari in Africa, the answer to which depends on the destination of choice and the seasons of travel. What follows is a general guide to packing for an African Safari.
- Africa Travel essentials: Not to be forgotten item
- Valid passport
- Valid visa – if required
- Copies of passport and other essential documents
- Air tickets
- Spending cash
- Comprehensive travel insurance
Generally the days on safari are warm and shorts and t-shirts are ideal, but nights can be cold in some regions so long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and pullovers are essential. During the warm months the long trousers and long-sleeved shirts act as a protection from mosquitoes.
It is important to note that clothing should be in earthy colours such as khaki, brown, beige and olive as bright colours may affect animal behavior. This is important for all safari activities. Night-time wear can be any colour of choice.
Footwear is a very important part of an African safari – especially for walking activities. Comfortable and practical footwear is recommended. Sandals and flip flops are not really recommended for a safari.
Think: scorpions, Matabele ants. Centipedes… a painful bite or sting can just ruin your whole day, for quite a few days.
- 2 pairs khaki cotton pants
- 2 pairs khaki shorts
- 2 long sleeved shirts/ blouses (for sun protection as well as warmth)
- 1 light sweater or sweatshirt
- 1 lightweight, waterproof windbreaker
- Swimming costume
- Sturdy walking or hiking boots – ankle support recommended for walking safaris
- Sandals/Flip Flops – for around camp wear or to air feet
- 3-5 short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
- 5 changes underwear and socks
- Soft Hat with a brim (baseball caps might cover your nose but not your ears and neck)
- 1 x Fleece Beanie – the breeze generated by a safari vehicle can be chilly, particularly on the ears.
- 1 or 2 Buffs (multifunctional tubular bandanas – versatile accessory for using to keep hair out of face, sun or cold wind off your neck or dust off your camera
- Gloves (if you really feel the cold)
- Down vest or jacket (if you really feel the cold)
- A sarong or kikoi type garment
- Most lodges and safari camps offer laundry as part of their service. Hotels all offer laundry, at additional cost.
- Rain Gear if travelling during the rainy season
- Personal Toiletries (Toothbrush/toothpaste/deodorant/hand sanitizer)
- Personal first-aid kit (headache pills, antihistamine cream etc.)
- Insect repellent
- Malaria Medication
- Diarrhea tablets
- Protective eye-ware – the sun can be harsh on the eyes
- Wide-brim soft hat
- Hygiene wipes
- Sewing / repair kit
- Photographic requirements – batteries and chargers, memory cards
- Lightweight reading and writing material
- Sunblock/ protection for skin
- Lip balm
Important note: Prescription medicine
For any special medicinal needs – it is essential to bring sufficient supplies of prescription medicine with you for the duration of your safari. It is also very important to bring the prescription with you in case of emergencies.
Luggage on safari
A soft luggage bag or backpack is recommended luggage for any safari as the space on safari vehicles and aircraft is limited. Hard suitcases are bulky and difficult to pack. A daypack is advised for carrying personal items such as binoculars and cameras. Special luggage concessions can be made for people on a private or specialist safari – particularly regarding photographic equipment.
Safety: Weight Restrictions for Light Aircraft
For safety reasons, pilots and tour guides are entitled to refuse to load bags that do not comply with the restrictions.
For itineraries that include a light aircraft flight, weight restrictions vary from country to country, depending on the height above sea-level ceiling of the aircraft. Luggage dimensions should not exceed 25cm (10 inches) wide, 30cm (12 inches) high and 62 cm (24 inches) long. Anything larger and the luggage will unfortunately not fit in the aircraft’s baggage compartment
- Botswana, Namibia & South Africa – 20kgs (44lbs)
- Tanzania & Kenya – 15kgs (33lbs)
- Zimbabwe – 12kgs (26lbs)
Important: Photographic Equipment
The important rule of thumb is: “If you don’t have it with you, you will learn to do without it.”
Bring enough digital memory devices and additional batteries as you may need. In some places in the bush there will be no option to charge batteries.
Obviously, photographic accessories can be obtained at shops in any major city you pass through, but the further you travel from civilization, the less likely you are to be able to obtain any such equipment.