Essentials to pack for your African Safari
Packing for an African safari can be a challenge. Most guests will be away from home over two weeks, travelling in places where it is hard to pop out for extra socks or your favourite brand of sunscreen. And maximum weight limits for luggage can range from 12kg person to 20kg per person, depending on your itinerary. Plus, your bags need to be 100% soft-sided – no suitcases or bags with wheels.
Below are a few essentials that are a must on safari. Plus, do not forget to read out Packing for an African Safari blog post.
- Valid passport
- Valid visa – if required
- One other picture identification (e.g. driver’s licence)
- Photocopy of passport page to carry in wallet
- Air tickets
- Vaccination Certificate
- Credit Cards and Cash
- Comprehensive Travel Insurance Policy
Dressing for Safaris
On safari, most people wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day and put on long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the evening for warmth as well as protection from mosquitoes. Should you be particularly sensitive to the sun a loose cotton shirt is essential during the day. Khaki, brown, olive and beige colours are best for and safaris and game walks.
White is not a suitable colour for these activities, as it increases your visibility to wildlife you want to get a closer look at and it will get dirty very quickly. Fleece or sweater and a windbreaker for game drives, because it is highly possible that you may go out on a hot day, but be faced with a chill evening on your return. Remember that layering your clothing will keep you warmer than relying on one thick item.
Suggested clothing to Pack for a safari:
- 2 pairs of cotton pants
- 2 pairs of 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 shoes
- 3-5 short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
- 5 changes underwear and socks
- Hat with a brim (baseball caps might cover your nose but not your ears and neck)
- 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. However many do not wash underwear/smalls but provide washing powder so you can do these yourself.
- Toilet kit
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
- Good quality sunglasses
- Hand wipes or ‘Baby wipes’
- Stuff-sacks or plastic packets; to compartmentalise items within your travel bag
- Repair kit: needle and thread, nylon cord, rip-stop tape
- Spare batteries or charger. You will probably take more photos than you think, so be prepared with extra memory and batteries.
- Paperback reading/kindle, writing material (keep weight at a minimum)
- Sunscreen or block
- Moisturiser, lip balm
- Personal first-aid kit (headache pills, rehydrate sachets, antihistamine pills/cream etc.)
- Towel and washcloth (both thin, quick-drying) – if required for camping safari
If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring a sufficient supply with you. If you are on a lengthy holiday, we suggest that you carry a copy of your prescription with you.
The best type of luggage to bring is a soft bag or backpack with an internal frame. Suitcases or bags with wheel are not suitable. The packing space in a safari vehicle is limited, only one bag is allowed, but you should also have a daypack for all of your personal items/camera/binoculars.
If part of your itinerary includes light aircraft flights, there are serious weight restrictions. You are usually restricted to 12 to 15kg, per person, in a soft bag. Storage space in a light aircraft is at a premium, and the pilot may refuse to take on bulky or excessive luggage. The most common aircraft types used for charter work are Cessna 206 or 210, and Cessna 208 Caravans. Slightly larger aircraft are often used in East Africa, but luggage is still restricted.
Remember that the pilot has the final say in terms of taking the luggage and you will be responsible for costs should your luggage need to be forwarded for you, or should an extra aircraft be required for transportation.