Packing for your grand safari adventure is different from packing for a trip to Disney Land or a weekend in Las Vegas. While you are dreaming of excitement and vistas that take your breath away, keep in mind that you are going to spend the majority of your time out of doors, and you do not want to get dirty or be schlepping four bags in your wake.
The name of the game is pack light. In fact, if you are planning on doing any plane hops between sites, you could be limited to less than 25 lbs. Your best bet is not to bring things you do not need, and, if possible, to bring a small duffel bag of absolute essentials to take on your safari, while you leave your larger roller bag and less needed items in your arrival/departure city. Check with your tour operator to find out any luggage restrictions they may have, as well as to get details about lockers or other long-term storage options for while you are “on safari.”
The Wearables: Clothing and Accessories
Temperatures can fluctuate wildly from day to night, so packing in layers is important. Bringing specialty travel wear, or anything that dries quickly, can save you space as you can wash them in the sink and air dry overnight. You want to avoid any brightly colored items, including white, to ensure you do not stand out and distract the animals.
Loosely fitting clothing will help prevent over-heating in the day time, and a fleece or sweatshirt will keep you cool in the chilly morning or evening. A thin roll-up raincoat can be packed in an outside pocket or bottom of the bag and will be needed during the rainy season. Long pants and sleeves will protect you from the elements as well as mosquitoes.
For a typical safari of a week to ten days, the following items should be sufficient, but again, check with your tour operator.
- Tops: 3-4 T-shirts, 2 long sleeved shirts
- Bottoms: 1 pair comfortable, loose shorts, two pairs of long cotton pants (avoid jeans)
- Outerwear: 1 sweatshirt or fleece, 1 thin raincoat
- Undergarments: 2-3 pairs of socks, 4 pair underwear, 2-3 sports bras (if needed) all in a material that can be washed in sink
- Shoes: 1 pair water shoes/ flip flops for shower, 1 pair waterproof, comfortable, lightweight shoes for everyday
- Pajamas: 1 pair warm pajama pants can be paired with your t-shirts or sweatshirt to keep you warm during the chilly nights
- Accessories: Sunglasses and a hat with strap to protect you not only from the sun but also the dust
- Your swimsuit
You are going on a safari to see the scenery and wildlife around you, so you do not need to pack a lot of “extra” entertainment. You are, however, going to want to capture your trip, so a camera is a must. With the camera make sure you consider extra batteries and/or charger, as well as additional SD/memory cards. You should also consider bringing binoculars to spot birds and hiding wildlife. Other items to include are a flashlight for walking around at night and a cell phone with an international plan (and the charger!)
Toiletries and Medicines
You do not need to go overboard with medicine and first aid, as the tour company will have first aid kits, but it is always a good idea to have a small stash on hand. When packing for your safari, consider packing Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, antihistamine (pills or creams), bug spray/repellent, sun block and antacids/antidiarrheals. You can also pack hand sanitizer for when hand washing water is unavailable. You will also need to pack any feminine hygiene products (if needed) and you should consider panty liners—toilet paper is nowhere to be found nor is there any place to dispose of it while on a game drive.
You are Ready To Go
Keep in mind when packing for your safari that you are limited in the space you can bring. You will be spending the majority of your time outside in the dust and sun; you do not need to bring a fashion runway’s worth of clothes. Pack light and with layerable items for fluctuating temperatures. Moreover, don’t forget your camera! Bon Voyage!
Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa