You want to bring as little luggage as possible to Tanzania. Typically, domestic airlines restrict passengers to one 6kg (13lb) handbag and one 15kg to 20kg (33lb to 44lb) main bag. Since cargo space is limited, please note that a duffle is your best choice for a main bag.
Please note that Tanzania uses 230 to 240 volts of current. Please investigate if you need a voltage converter before arrival. The most common socket type is the three square-pin variety, so you may also need a universal travel adapter.
Safaris are extremely informal vacations and the main goal is to pack lightly and smartly. Most lodges and camps will launder your clothes for free or for a small fee ($2 – $3 per item) within 24 hours. Loose-fitting, casual, and comfortable clothing is recommended, as you will be spending the majority of your safari wildlife viewing in a vehicle. Be prepared for daily highs ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-’80s and lows in the 50’s and 60s except during the cold season (June, July, and August) when the lows can drop down into the 40’s. The rim of the Ngorongoro Crater can get significantly colder during the night and early mornings due to the high elevation (7,500 – 8,000 feet).
There is little or no opportunity for fashion while on safari though you may wish to bring a nice outfit for a special dinner. All the lodges allow casual clothing and traditional safari wear while dining. There is a large temperature range each day and it is recommended to wear layers enabling you to adjust to the varying temperatures. It can be quite cold on early morning game drives and long pants and a warm sweater are needed. In contrast, shorts and t-shirts can be worn on afternoon game drives as it can get hot during midday especially with the strong equatorial sun shining down in a convertible vehicle. You must wear a wide-brimmed hat and apply sunblock frequently to all exposed areas.
Dark colors do tend to attract unwanted attention from certain insects. The tsetse fly (active only during the day) is attracted to dark colors (primarily dark blue) so these should be avoided when game driving. Tsetse areas include the woodlands of the West Serengeti, Tarangire, and a few parts of the North Serengeti. The plains of the south and east Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and the southern areas of the Central Serengeti are tsetse fly free. It is recommended to wear long pants and shirts when game driving in an area known for concentrations of tsetse flies. Lighter and more natural colors such as khaki, brown, beige, olive, and green should be worn during the day. During the night, the color of your clothing is irrelevant. From dusk to dawn, it is recommended that you protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and shoes plus insect repellent.
Please see below for a recommended African safari packing list:
- – One pair of comfortable walking shoes (i.e. sneakers, cross-training, or light hiking shoes)
- – Casual, comfortable, and loose-fitting clothing in khaki, brown, beige, green, and olive colors
- – T-shirts and light tops
- – Long-sleeved shirts/blouses
- – Shorts
- – Light long pants or convertible long-short pants
- – One warm fleece or sweater
- – Socks and underwear
- – Pajamas
- – Hat and bandana
- – Heavy sweater, warm gloves, knit hat, and scarf for the cold season (June – August)
- – For the ladies, you may consider wearing a sports bra while out on game drives as the roads can be a bit bumpy
- – Recommended but optional: lightweight jacket or windbreaker
- – Passport, plane tickets, safari itinerary, and emergency contact document
- – U.S. dollars in large and small denominations and credit cards
- – Small flashlight
- – Sunglasses
- – Sunscreen and lip balm
- – Insect repellent
- – Contact lens solution, spare glasses, and extra contact lenses
- – Waterless anti-bacterial gel, hand wipes, and Kleenex
- – Camera, plenty of film, extra batteries, and charger, if applicable
- – UK plug adapter
- – Small battery-operated alarm clock or watch
- – Playing cards, small games, and reading material (see safari reading list)
- – Journal or notebook for recording daily observations and pens
- – Snacks – nutrition bars, nuts, candy, etc.
- – Zip lock bags for toiletries, camera equipment, snacks, and small trash bags
- – All rooms at each lodge/camp have soap and shampoo
- – Small medical kit including aspirin, antimalarial pills, cold and allergy medicine, cream for itches and rashes (i.e. Benadryl itch relief stick), band-aids, stomachache medicine (i.e. Pepto-Bismol), antibiotic ointment (i.e. Neosporin), multi-vitamins, diarrhea medicine (i.e. Imodium), prescription antibiotic effective against a broad range of bacteria including travelers diarrhea (i.e. Ciprofloxacin commonly known as Cipro) and any prescription medications.
- – If you have back issues, you may wish to consider bringing along a travel pillow to pad the safari seat over the bumpy roads (it can also double as a tool to steady your camera while taking pictures)
- – If you wear contact lenses, you should also bring along a pair of glasses in case your eyes get irritated from the dust
- – Be sure to bring enough cash. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, and there are no ATMs out in the bush. See the money section for more information.
- – As a safety precaution in case of a lost passport we recommend that all guests carry a photocopy of their passport in a separate piece of luggage or scan and email your passport to your Bush 2 City Adventure sales representative.
- – Small battery-operated hand-held fan (some come with water reservoirs)
- – Tanzania Visa
- – Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate if traveling from a Yellow Fever infected country such as Kenya, Rwanda, or Uganda
We recommend lightweight clothing with moisture-wicking technology that draws moisture away from the skin to help keep you cool and dry. Many options are available from the various online outdoor outfitters such as REI which are ideally suited for warmer climates and many feature stretchy fabrics for maximum comfort with built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) sun protection and even vented side seams.
Repacking Tips and Luggage Recommendations
When preparing for your safari, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind. Most flights within East Africa, including the one from Arusha to the Serengeti, have a baggage restriction of approximately 15 kilograms (33 pounds) per person. This limit applies to the combined weight of all your luggage and carry-on items, including backpacks, purses, camera gear, and camera bags.
If your luggage exceeds the 15-kilogram (33-pound) allowance, there’s an excess baggage fee of approximately $6.60 per kilogram ($3 per pound), provided it can be accommodated on the flight. Usually, for the standard Serengeti flight included in most itineraries, excess luggage can be accommodated as long as it’s within reason (about 2.3 to 3.2 kilograms or 5 to 7 pounds over the limit). Any excess luggage that can’t fit on your flight will be flown on the next available one; there are typically at least two flights a day to/from the Serengeti.
If you’re a serious photographer with heavy gear, you may consider purchasing an extra seat for your internal flight(s) to avoid luggage restrictions. While soft-sided luggage is preferred for the flight to the Serengeti, hard-sided luggage is allowed. However, please ensure that your luggage dimensions do not exceed the cargo pod measurements, which can be as small as approximately 37 centimeters by 69 centimeters (14.5 inches by 27 inches).
If you have extra luggage that you won’t need for the safari (e.g., extra luggage for pre-safari or post-safari travel, books you read on the international flight, etc.), you are welcome to leave these items with our staff in Arusha for safekeeping. We’ll store them securely at our offices in Arusha and redeliver them to you before your journey back home.
It’s crucial to carry all valuables in your carry-on bag and avoid checking in luggage containing items like camera equipment, tablets, laptops, etc., to prevent theft. Please note that the flight to the Serengeti might make multiple stops before reaching your destination airstrip. The pilot will ensure you disembark at the correct airstrip, but be prepared for potential inconvenience. These flights can be quite loud, so you may want to bring disposable earplugs.
We recommend packing light, as formal clothes are not necessary, and most lodges and camps offer laundry services either free of charge or for a small fee (approximately €1.80 to €2.70 per item).
Lastly, please be aware that delayed or lost checked luggage is common on international flights arriving at Kilimanjaro, Nairobi, or Dar es Salaam. To safeguard against this, we advise carrying all luggage, including a carry-on suitcase (normal carry-on size that fits typical overhead bins) and a separate camera bag and/or shoulder bag per person. If you decide to check your luggage, make sure to carry all essential items, such as prescription medicines, camera equipment, essential toiletries, and at least two changes of clothes. Remember that you’re traveling to a remote location where it may be impossible to purchase such items in case your luggage is lost or delayed.
As you pack, consider whether an item is essential for your trip, and if it is, pack it in your carry-on bag. If delayed luggage is a concern, it’s also a good idea to include a duffel bag or similar item in your carry-on luggage so you can quickly transfer critical items if forced to check your luggage. Checked luggage is often delayed (estimated at roughly 20% of the time) on flights from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro, but it can usually be delivered to us within 24 to 48 hours. There are daily flights to the Serengeti, so once we have your luggage, delivering it to you during your safari is not an issue.
While some clients have expressed interest in mailing items to Arusha ahead of time, we generally don’t recommend it. The mail service in Africa is extremely unreliable, and the cost can be rather high.
You may also leave extra suitcases at our office in Arusha upon arrival, and we can redeliver them to you after your safari. This is particularly useful for individuals combining their safari with vacations in Europe or other destinations with different clothing requirements and climates, especially in the winter. We can securely store all non-safari-related items at our office. Some guests prefer packing two different suitcases, one for the safari and one for Europe or other destinations.
Note on Dress Code in Zanzibar:
If you plan to visit Zanzibar, please dress modestly when not at the beach or beach resorts. Away from the beach and beach resorts, women should avoid sleeveless tops and short skirts (pants or at least knee-length shorts are fine). Men should wear shirts, pants, or knee-length shorts. During Ramadan, show respect by not eating or drinking in the street or other public places.
Many people prefer a lightweight rolling duffle bag as it offers reasonable capacity without adding much weight. This allows you to allocate your weight allowance to the contents rather than the bag itself. Alternatively, a lightweight bag will also suffice. Several reputable luggage manufacturers offer suitable options. To find the right one for you, consider searching online using terms like “lightweight luggage.”
As for carry-on luggage, it’s essential to stay mindful of the airline’s regulations. Some airlines, like KLM, have been enforcing carry-on weight and size limits more rigorously, even for carry-on items that have rarely been checked in the past. To avoid potential issues, pack as lightly as possible and do not overstuff your carry-on luggage.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to include a duffel bag or similar item in your carry-on luggage, just in case you are required to check your luggage. This allows you to quickly transfer essential items like prescription medicine and a change of clothes to carry on board the aircraft.
Note: The above information is provided as a reference and not an exhaustive list. Your specific packing needs may vary based on personal preferences and the nature of your safari.