The ultimate packing guide for your African safari

The ultimate packing guide for your African safari


African Safari is an increasingly popular activity for adventurous travelers and casual holiday-goers alike. Ever since David Livingstone discovered the African heartland in the mid-1800s, travelers have been captivated by the romance of exploring nature’s wilderness, which is no longer the realm of only the rich and the brave. With several choices now available, there are many things to take into consideration when planning a safari.

Safari packing list tips & tricks

Generally, travelers bring extraneous items of clothing & accessories whenever they travel. The Pareto law dictates that 20% of our clothing will get 80% of the use, and this applies on holidays. You have booked your safari, now you need to be sure you don’t get charged by airlines for extra luggage, or miss that charter flight between safari lodges because your luggage went over the allowed maximum weight limit.

Below are the top 10 recommendations on packing the necessities for a safari:

  • Bring 3 outfits for game drives, including 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of shorts and 1 long-sleeved shirt, and 2 short-sleeved shirts. Game viewing clothes must be a neutral color.
  • Bring one hat (the neutral colors are great).
  • Swimming gear is important in case any of the lodges you stay at have swimming pools.
  • 1 pair of hiking boots/running shoes suitable for walking in the brush, and 1 pair of sandals for relaxing at the lodge.
  • Bring two “evening” outfits: depending on the caliber of your accommodation, this can be anything from fleece and jeans to khakis, button-down shirt, and blazer.
  • Bring a travel alarm, travel pillow, and a deck of cards to play during down time.
  • Bring a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport in the event it is stolen. Print out all phone numbers, names, locations, and email addresses of all lodges and contacts and bring a list of immunizations and or shots you have received for your trip and any visas necessary for your entry into a foreign country.
  • Bring a small amount of medicine, including anti-diarrhea, Advil, antibiotics, and of course prevention against malaria.
  • Purchase a couple of books on the region you are going to or take an E-book reader with you. This can include histories of the area, a travel guide, or a guide on the animals, birds, and fauna in the area.

Pre-Safari Checklist

There are many things which you still may need to sort out to enable you will have a good and comfortable holiday.

Many people get stressed out as well as excited on the build-up to their safari holiday due to the amount of effort which goes into preparation. To ensure that you only get the excitement minus the stress of the build-up to an African safari vacation, here is a quick checklist that should put your pre-safari arrangements on the right track.

#1 – Vaccinations

Before visiting African countries, it is important to get vaccinations against some diseases which may be present in some of the areas you may visit. Your doctor is probably the best person to advise you on which vaccinations to get. It is necessary to note that some country’s border patrols will require that you have had a Yellow Fever vaccination, and you must have a certificate on arrival to prove this.

#2 – Packing

It is important to pack the correct objects for your safari and this for many reasons, here is a quick list of items you shouldn’t forget to add to your suitcase:

  • Clothing – Pack neutral beige colored clothing, as brighter colors tend to attract unwanted attention from insects, such as tsetse flies who seem to like the color blue.
  • Health and safety essentials – Sunscreen, sunglasses, lotion, and a sun hat are all important to protect yourself from the strong African sun. You must also use insect repellent to keep mosquitoes away, and if advised by your doctor, also take anti-malarial pills.
  • Misc. safari essentials – Bringing a camera and a pair of binoculars will only enhance your safari experience and ensure you get the most out of it.

#3 – Research

There are several different things that you need to research before committing yourself to your African safari holiday, such as:

  • Destinations – Choosing which safari reserves and landmarks you’d like to visit can be a hard task, but it is best to take your time and research into every possibility before deciding. Distances between each park is usually a common factor also, as you don’t want to spend more time than you have to travel.
  • Activities – There are many extra activities you can participate in such as horse riding, tribal village tours, and hot air balloon tips in many African countries. You should inform your tour operator about these if you would like to do them so that they can be booked in advance and added to your itinerary.
  • Accommodation – It is good to research a few different accommodations in or around your destinations to ensure you are choosing the best-suited location for you.
  • Tour operator – Choosing a local tour operator a good few months in advance is always the best way to make sure that you can read past client reviews of the company and also get to know them and work on a customized itinerary with them. Ensure to choose a private safari, as otherwise, you may end up taking a shared safari with many other random people.

What to pack for a safari?

Most safari travel specialists will tell you never to leave behind any essential item as they may be difficult to get once you are in the wilderness. It is therefore essential to do a proper inventory of what to carry for your African Wildlife Safari.

#1 – Safari outfits

It is important to take note of the clothes you carry on safari as they shouldn’t only be for protection but also comfortability. Long sleeve shirts and long pants are essential to protect you from annoying mosquito bites and to keep your skin covered from the hot sun. Most safari guides will tell you to avoid brightly colored clothing because it can attract animals the reason why most safari clothing comes in khaki, tan, and light brown. Neutral colors are effective in making you cooler during warm days. They are mainly cotton. Don’t forget to carry something for warmth as the nights might be a little bit chilly.

#2 – Backpack

For many people on an African Safari a sturdy, waterproof backpack is an efficient way to bring your essential items. As a rule, when packing, try not to have your pack weigh more than 50 kg since you will be lugging it around from one safari lodge to the other. Make sure the straps on your pack fit you comfortably. Talk to your travel specialist because you may only need a few days of clothing supply because many of the camps and lodges do have laundry facilities. It is also important to ask your tour operator what to carry when on specialized outdoor activities that include mountain climbing, bungee jumping, gorilla trekking, or water rafting.

#3 – Sun and Mosquito Protection

In the wild, you will encounter mosquitoes so it is important to have a strong mosquito repellent. Be sure to spray your clothing and any exposed skin. Avoid the use of perfume, hairspray, and other scented products because they may attract mosquitoes. Around the equator and especially Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania is located on Equator the temperatures are high. It is therefore important to have a good sunscreen to protect you from the sun rays

#4 – Polarized Sunglasses

Another item not to be left out is a pair of quality, polarized sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses are best for the strong, bright sun.

#5 – Walking Shoes

Remember to have a good and comfy pair of walking/running shoes that fit you well. Don’t forget to pack quality socks too. You’ll probably need to also bring a pair of comfortable walking sandals.

#6 – Rain Gear & warm Jacket

Depending on the timing of your African Safari, there is a need to bring light rain gear for short rains (October – Early December) and long rains (March – April) and a warm jacket for the cold season (May – June).

#7 – Swimming Suit

Many lodges in the national parks and game reserves have swimming pools. Many safari experiences include the opportunity to swim in these pristine pools. Be sure to bring a good quality swimming suit so you can enjoy the water!

Other items you may want to bring such as:

a) Personal care products.

b) Camera equipment & accessories- always ensure that the equipment plug and electric cables conform with that of the country you are visiting.

c) Extra contact lenses or glasses.

d) Binoculars.

e) Basic medical supplies.

f) Waterproof bags – for your camera and other electronic devices.

What to wear on a safari? safari clothing

Safari clothing is essential when you are visiting a desert climate, especially if you are not accustomed to the rapid temperature changes and intense heat of the day. With the proper clothing, you can avoid sunburn and stay comfortable throughout your journey.

#1 – Think Breathable Fabrics

Lightweight cotton and linen are great choices for desert safari clothing. When shopping for your desert wardrobe, think about choosing items that are neutral in color, such as white or tan, to avoid soaking up the heat of the sun. In most cases, you will find that safari wear is already very lightly colored, so focus on choosing those items that will be comfortable even in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

#2 – Layer Your Clothing

You will also want to choose safari clothing that is easily layered, especially if you are going to be staying overnight in the desert. Temperatures in the most extreme deserts can change quickly, and range from an intense 120 degrees Fahrenheit to a chilling 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. Bring along a warm jacket in addition to long-sleeved, lightweight shirts that can be worn together during the evening and night hours.

#3 – Sand Protection

Depending on the location you are visiting, you will also want to think about protection from the wind and sand. Sandstorms are common in many desserts, such as the Sahara, so bring along sunglasses and protection for your face and mouth in case you encounter one of these natural occurrences.

#4 – Sneakers or Sandals?

It is typically going to be very warm in the desert, making the sand in the region warmer than what you might find on your average beach. Depending on your personal comfort level, you will want to consider either sneakers or sandals as a part of the safari clothing you take along. Sandals are best if you don’t mind the warm sand, while sneakers are more protective. Keep in mind that sand tends to get into sneakers as you walk through the desert.

If this is your first desert safari, you may want to consider taking a pair of each type of shoe to experiment with.

#5 – Check the Facilities Available

You don’t want to bring along two whole weeks’ worth of safari clothing if you plan on carrying all of your things with you as you travel, so make sure that you check the agenda to see when you will be stopping at a lodge or motel with laundry facilities. Most tours include at least one stopover, allowing you to reduce the amount of clothing and supplies you need to take along. Not only will you feel less burdened by your gear, but you will also save a little on your travel budget by planning.

Some safari clothing, including your jacket/vest, can be worn daily without needing to be replaced. Make sure you have plenty of handy pockets in these items for frequently used items and choose a color that is neutral to avoid showing dirt or absorbing heat. Khaki, olive, and other neutral colors work best.

Final thoughts

A safari has plenty of adventure and more, especially, the wildlife. Its distributed in all countries of Africa and at each destination, you decide to visit, you will get the best of Africa’s beauty. The rules are quite simple and must be considered. You are always advised to travel light; this is because you will not be disturbed on your flight with check-in and out. Light luggage will make you enjoy your safari.

African Safari FAQs

Q: What should I pack for the Tanzania safari?

Outerwear must consist of 1 sweatshirt or fleece jacket for morning and evening wear, sunglasses, a safari hat with a chin belt that withstands winds, a swimsuit if your lodge has a pool, and a thin waterproof raincoat, especially if you are traveling during the winter.

Q: What colors should you not wear on safari?

Stay away from black and dark blue clothing, and leave bright-white objects at home; safari parks are often dusty, and white clothes may get dingy.

Q: What kind of shoes should I wear on safari?

We find that light trail shoes and hybrid shoe/sandals (Keen, Teva, Merrel, North Face, HiTec, Garmont, Salomon, etc) are adequate for regular travel and normal safari conditions. Even fly-camping trips and walking trails on fairly rough terrain don’t warrant hiking boots when conditions are dry.

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