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Safari Packing Guide: Insider Tips

It might seem obvious, but it is essential to emphasize that this item should be at the very top of your safari packing list. Ignoring it could significantly impact your overall experience, so we must stress its importance to ensure you are well-prepared for your adventure.

1. Passport, Itinerary, Travel Insurance Docs & Etickets

Prescription Medications

Pack your prescription medications in your carry-on bag if your checked luggage gets lost. Bring enough to last your entire safari, plus a little extra for any unexpected delays. This will ensure you have everything you need and can enjoy your safari without any worries. 

Prescription Glasses (plus Sunglasses, Hat, Sunblock, etc.)

If you wear prescription glasses, it’s wise to pack an extra pair if you lose or break your primary set. Since you’ll be spending a significant amount of time outdoors during your safari, it’s important to be well-prepared. Bring a hat to protect yourself from the sun, apply sunblock regularly, wear long sleeves to shield your skin, and pack lip balm to prevent chapped lips. These items will help ensure you stay comfortable and protected throughout your adventure.

Camera, Video, and Binoculars

When preparing for your safari, remember that binoculars are essential for optimal wildlife viewing, allowing you to see animals up close and in detail. Invest in a quality pair with at least 8x magnification, ideally 10x, to enhance your experience. Africa is a photographer’s paradise, offering diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, vibrant cultures, and perfect lighting. To capture these moments, bring a good camera with a zoom lens for wildlife and a wide-angle lens for landscapes. These tools will help you create lasting memories and ensure an unforgettable safari experience.

Clothes & Toiletries

Of course, you won’t forget to pack clothes! But are you packing the right ones, and are you within the weight limits recommended for those light aircraft flights? Most international airlines allow check-in luggage of around 20 to 30 kg (44 to 66 lbs). However, if your safari includes light aircraft flights, the allowance can be as little as 12 to 15 kg (26 to 33 lbs), sometimes including your hand luggage.

 

Don’t worry! Most safari camps and lodges offer same-day laundry services, so you don’t need a separate outfit for each day of your safari. The only exception might be mobile tented safaris, where the mobile nature can make laundry services difficult. Additionally, you may be able to leave an extra bag with the charter company or our representative meeting you, to retrieve after your safari. When in doubt, ask your travel advisor for advice.

Casual yet Comfortable

Casual, comfortable clothing is appropriate year-round for safari adventures. While you might be tempted to invest in a brand-new safari wardrobe, there’s no need to look like an extra from “Out of Africa.” Opt for neutral or non-bright colors, as safari wear is typically casual and practical. Make sure to pack clothes that you feel comfortable in, especially sturdy walking or hiking boots. Consider the newer quick-drying fabrics, shirts with ventilation, and trousers that can convert into shorts for added convenience.

Layering is Essential

Layering your clothing is the most practical way to handle changing temperatures and cool evenings on safari. As the day warms up, you can remove layers, and as it cools toward evening, you can put them back on. Here are the “must-haves” to pack for your safari:

 

1. T-shirt, shirt, or blouse – long sleeves and collars protect against the sun and mosquitoes
2. Fleece or warm jacket
3. Safari trousers – ones that zip off at the knees are very useful
4. Comfortable walking shoes (or boots) and socks
5. Hat
6. Bandanna or cotton scarf, and a sarong (kanga, pareo, kikoi)
7. Open sports sandals for daytime use in warmer months
8. Swimsuit – many lodges and camps have swimming pools
9. An elegantly casual outfit for dinner at the nicer hotels
10. Light, compact raincoat if rain is expected (especially for gorilla and chimp trekking)
11. Undergarments

Muted or neutral colors are best for a safari, as bright or white clothing can be conspicuous and impractical, particularly during walking safaris. Cotton garments are ideal, but modern synthetic safari wear offers quick drying and high comfort.

Weather is Vital

Check with our safari expert about the weather at your safari destination. You might not need heavy cold-weather gear, which will help with your luggage limit. However, if you’re visiting places like Ngorongoro, Nanyuki, Hwange, Okavango, Linyanti, or Kruger during the winter months (June through August), pack gloves, a scarf, a thick jacket, and a beanie. These areas can be very cold in the early morning and late evening, especially with the wind-chill factor on open game-drive vehicles.

Phone, Music Player, Tablet, or Laptop

Be sure to pack your smartphone, music player, tablet, or laptop, along with their chargers and country-specific adapter plugs. These items will keep you connected, and entertained, and help you capture memories during your safari.

Preventive Medications

As a travel doctor, I recommend packing essential medications to ensure you’re prepared for any situation. This includes remedies for diarrhea, headaches, heartburn, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, antihistamines for bites, indigestion relief, lozenges for sore throat, eye drops, and most importantly, anti-malarial tablets. These items will help you stay healthy and comfortable during your safari.

Miscellaneous Items

A reliable torch (flashlight) is essential. The bush or your tent can be pitch black at night. While a rechargeable torch is ideal, a small battery-powered one will do the trick. Consider new LED headlamps that leave your hands free. A smaller pencil torch for emergencies or stargazing is also handy. Most camps provide a torch or will escort you back to your tent, but it’s always wise to be self-sufficient.

Bringing a good book is a great idea. You never know when you might face delays at the airport or need to pass the time. A travel diary or journal is also highly recommended. You’ll encounter and experience so much on safari that writing it down will help you keep a detailed record. It requires discipline but will serve as an invaluable memento of your adventure.

Carry-On Bag

Limit your hand luggage to one item to make travel easier; remember, a handbag counts as a second item. Ensure your bag meets airline carry-on size requirements. If you’re a photographer, ensure your camera bag can hold travel documents, medication, glasses, binoculars, and a change of clothes. Be aware of current restrictions on liquids, flammables, and sharp objects, and always check for the latest regulations before you travel.

Lastly, Remember to Bring Your Sense of Humor, Patience, and Common Sense!

Avoid wearing any clothing that could be seen as “camouflage,” such as brown or green combat-style outfits. This includes caps, even if they are fashionable or worn by children. Many African authorities have an excessive concern about such attire, which could lead to police questioning or harassment. To avoid potential issues, it’s best to leave these items at home.

 

Also, refrain from bringing expensive jewelry on safari. Stick to minimal items, like your wedding band or inexpensive earrings.

 

For securing your luggage, we recommend using combination locks to secure zippers if your suitcase lacks its locking mechanism. Luggage tampering at airports can happen. Luggage straps and shrink-wrapping services available at some airports can also provide additional security.

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