WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR AFRICAN SAFARI
Your Insider’s Safari Packing Guide
Everything You Need To Take...And Some Things You Don’t
When does your safari adventure become real? Is it the moment you first dream of tracking the big cats on the plains? Or maybe it’s when you speak with an Africa Kenya Safaris travel expert about which parks to discover the elephants, giraffes, and zebras?
Perhaps your upcoming safari becomes undeniably real when you begin shopping and packing for those warm days out on the savannah and cool nights sitting by the campfire.
No doubt about it – there is something truly exciting about gathering the specialized clothing and gear for your safari that says you’re about to go on the adventure of a lifetime.
So let’s explore and have fun with our many insider tips about how to pack for a successful and comfortable safari.
Some Important First Steps
But before we jump into safari shopping let’s review some important packing and travel guidelines that will help your trip be safe and hassle-free.
- Sometimes things happen… like one of your suitcases not arriving with the other. An easy workaround for this – divide some of your clothing between suitcases.
- Important stuff. Meds, jewelry, cameras, phones, binoculars, visas, passports, wallets, vaccine certificates – keep them all close in a hand-carry shoulder bag.
- Speaking of jewelry… and fashion in general, we’re going on safari – it’s all about the land, the wildlife, and the cultures we’ll discover. Try to keep jewelry and high style to a minimum, especially bright clothing.
- Photocopies of important docs. Nothing beats the security of having color photocopies of your passport, visa, travel insurance, emergency contacts, additional forms of ID, credit card contacts… you get the idea.
- Plastic Bags. You know, the type you find in supermarkets? They are illegal in Kenya. Bring fabric bags instead.
- Weight. If your safari includes in-country flights on small aircraft please be aware that there is a weight limit per passenger of 15 kilograms (33 lbs.) and that includes your hand luggage.
- Soft sides. Whether you are safari-ing by road or air, your luggage needs to be of a soft-sided configuration for easy packing in your 4 x 4 Jeep or light aircraft.
Important Info About Safari Clothing
We’ll get to your actual clothing items in a moment but first a few general notes about clothes, comfort, and culture.
On safari, neutral colors like khaki and forest green work best. Bright colors can alert animals and definitely attract insects! Also, beige and green neutrals do a good job of hiding the safari dust.
Before your trip, talk to your Africa Kenya Safaris travel specialist about the upcoming weather. Will it be hot, mild, cool, or cold? Perhaps some parks like the Masai Mara will be warm but upcountry spots on your itinerary like Mt. Kenya or Aberdare Park could be decidedly cool. You’ll need to know the expected weather to bring the right items.
Layering. It’s the secret sauce of comfort and convenience while on safari. Wearing clothing in layers allows you to be warm on that first early morning game drive but then peel off a jacket or long-sleeved shirt as the savannah warms up.
Come late afternoon and evening, the process is reversed, adding more layers to keep you comfy as the sun goes down.
Laundry. Most lodges and camps provide laundry services, some at no cost. So there is no need to bring excessive amounts of clothing on your safari.
Camouflage-style items. While fashionable, this is where different cultures may clash. Please avoid any clothing – even a hat – with a “camouflage” or military-type pattern. These may considered illegal in East Africa as this is the uniform or look worn by military forces and you could be questioned about it. Best to avoid.
Now To The Clothing
By now you know an extensive and glamorous wardrobe is the last thing you need on safari, so here’s our list of smart, practical clothing to ensure your comfort.
- 1 long-sleeved safari shirt of breathable organic cotton or man-made fabric that is thick enough to keep out flies and mosquitoes.
- 2–3 T-shirts
- 2 pairs of safari shorts and trousers with plenty of pockets. Try the long pants-to-shorts combo – very convenient.
- Long-sleeve, full-leg pajamas.
- Bathing suit
- Jacket or fleece – lightweight for summer, heavier for winter
- Light rain jacket
- A scarf or bandana
- A sunproof hat, lightweight and breathable
- Closed sturdy shoes for general activity. Hiking boots if you’re going on trails.
Toiletries and Medicines
We already advised you to hand-carry your prescription medicines but don’t forget to pack these essentials along with your toiletries:
- Aspirin/pain relievers
- Malaria pills
- Insect repellent
- Hand sanitizer
- Allergy pills
- Lip balm
These days almost everyone has a cell phone with a built-in camera. This small camera is fine for many situations but the world of safari can be bigger than life. When you come upon that lion or cheetah staring down from a nearby hill, you may want to be ready with a telephoto or zoom lens to capture the look in its eyes!
Digital cameras have gotten smaller and lighter with great quality optics and many now have built-in video capabilities as well. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries or a charger and plenty of memory cards as well as a blower/brush to clean off any safari dust.
At Africa Kenya Safaris, we always provide high-quality Olympus binoculars in your 4 x 4 Jeep. But you might want to bring along your own pair for instant accessibility. A good size is 8/10 x 40.
Power adaptor: Your many devices: camera, phone, shaver, electric toothbrush, etc., are all power-hungry and need their daily dose of electricity. A power adapter with multiple sockets will ensure they can all be charged at the same time with only one outlet.
We’ve mentioned some of these earlier and some are new. Let’s go through a final checklist of these necessary items:
- List of telephone numbers for blocking lost or stolen credit cards
- Passport that is valid for at least 6 months
- Any required vaccination certificates
- Any required children’s birth certificates
- Local currency and credit cards
- Travel insurance is always recommended
- Emergency contacts with phone numbers
- Second form of ID in addition to a passport
Just a few more items to go and you’re ready for your safari adventure. A money belt is always a good idea to protect your cash, credit cards, and passport.
The equatorial African sun is strong so a good pair of sunglasses is essential to shield your eyes and you’ll get a clearer view of that family of elephants parading by.
A flashlight can come in handy – especially convenient is the lightweight type worn on the forehead, leaving your hands free.
A good book is always a trusty companion for relaxing in the evenings and a small journal for recording your safari impressions can become a moving souvenir of your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
And there you have it – our insider’s packing guide based on hundreds of safaris and the feedback from our thousands of happy and satisfied safari-goers.
And now we look forward to adding you to this all-important list of valued guests.
Any questions? Just contact us here for all the answers!
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