The popularity of safaris is on the rise across Africa. Some are so remote, travellers are limited to as little as a carry-on bag for a ten day trip. Small charter aircrafts can only hold so much so what do you pack if a safari is on your next holiday itinerary?
The packing predicament. It’s always the same before every trip when you finally get around the pulling out your case (ideally not the night before or the morning of your flight). “What on earth am I going to wear?” It’s hard enough to pack for a beach holiday in Spain but what about for an African safari?
Instead of packing for every “what if” scenario possible, research the best luggage, clothing and gear that will have your back in any situation. Then, take only the essentials. It’s easy to over-pack, especially if you’re travelling to a climate and region you’ve never visited before.
Start by choosing the right piece of luggage. If you will be taking smaller bush planes later in your trip, research your luggage allowances. Take a sturdy suitcase as your hold baggage but tuck inside at least 1 smaller (lighter) duffle to use for your safari trip. Alternatively, pack all your luggage into two duffle bags and plastic wrap them together at the airport (problem solved!) Luggage locks are a good idea for all travel in Africa.
Your safari wardrobe
There are two things to remember when packing for a safari: pack light and pack for the appropriate time of the year. These days many lodges offer a laundry service so it’s not necessary to pack enough clean clothes for the entire length of your stay, you can also do a bit of laundry mid-way through.
For a ten day trip this should be enough clothing to get you by:
- one safari hat (do not leave your house without one!)
- two pairs of hiking pants that can zip off into short (cringe yes, but it’s a 2-for-1)
- three short sleeve T-shirts
- two long-sleeve shirts
- one warm fleece (even if you’re travelling in summer)
- three pairs of socks
- four pairs of underwear
- one cosy cashmere sweater
- one pair of tights or yoga pants to wear in the evenings
- a pair of lightweight shoes or sandals to wear in the evenings
- a waterproof bag to keep your clothes dry and dust-free
- sunglasses with polarised lenses to reduce glare
- a pair of lightweight, durable shoes that are breathable and have good soles for during the day
- a pair of strong binoculars to seeing across the plains
- in the wet season it’s essential to also pack a pair of rain pants and a windbreaker
Keep your colours neutral so as not to scare away the animals! Sand, khaki, olive, green, grey… You get the picture. A good basic first-aid kit will go a long way on any trip and while most camps will have the essentials it’s a good idea to pack extra remedies for upset stomaches, headaches and other illnesses. Don’t forget blister bandages!
Pack a water-bottle so that you won’t be tempted to continuously buy bottled water.
Finally, weigh your bag before you leave for the airport. No stilettos, no hairdryer, minimal make-up and you’re ready to go!
Have you ever been on a safari? What do you recommend taking with you?