We realise someone going on safari is not likely to be a first time traveller, but even regular travellers sometimes need a helping hand with what to pack!
Now that you know what to wear, decide on what to pack along with your clothes. Like most things, the best place to start is the beginning. Your destination plays an important role in just how prepared you have to be. If you are doing a self-drive tour through Kruger, there are shops at most restcamps with all your basics, and supermarkets just outside the park. However, if you are heading for Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, there really is no such option. Knowing what to pack becomes much more important.
Once you have chosen your destination, understanding how much luggage you can take with you, is the next step.
Generally, if you will be travelling overland, the luggage weight is not an issue. However, size can be a problem and we always recommend soft bags if possible.
If you are going on a fly-in safari, then weight and size become a major factor in your planning. Most flights to lodges and camps in remoter areas of Africa are by small aircraft. See the picture on the right for a typical aircraft used. Strict luggage restrictions are in place, always in soft bags. Weight restrictions are usually between 15-20kg (33lbs – 44lbs), but sometimes as low as 10kg (22lbs). This means you really need to prioritise what is important for you to pack.
Sunscreen – even in winter the sun can burn. Remember you will be spending several hours a day out in the sun. The less greasy the sunscreen the better. You will be in an open vehicle with a lot of dust and with a greasy sunscreen you may end up with a dust-mud facepack!
Camera WITH spare batteries! There is nothing worse than your battery dying when you finally get to see that leapard in a tree! If you are using your phone for pictures remember to take a power bank with you.
Adapters and chargers. Before going check what type of plug points/power outlets are used in the countries you will be visiting. Try and get at least one adaptor. Most lodges will have adaptors for you to borrow while there. However, if you have your own it is much less hassle. They probably won’t have battery or phone chargers – so make sure they are packed!
Back brace / support if you suffer with back problems. You will be spending a lot of time in a 4×4 vehicle in some pretty rough terrain. This can take its toll on your back. If you do suffer from back pains speak to your ranger. Ask if you can sit as far forward in the vehicle as possible. Maybe even in the seat next to the ranger – this is the least bumpy part of the vehicle.
Yellow Fever Certificate – if you are travelling to a country that is recognised by the World Health Organisation as having yellow fever, you will need to get inoculated against the disease and will be issued a yellow fever card. PLEASE carry that card with you throughout your journey and all the way home. If not you have no proof of having the inoculation. In extreme cases may be denied entry to a country.
Medication. If you take particular medication, please remember to bring it with you. There is very little chance of getting it while out on safari. Remember to bring enough to last your whole trip. Whenever possible pack your medication in your hand luggage on your flights. That way, if your hold luggage goes missing you still have your medication.
Torch/flashlight. A small torch / flashlight can be indispensable. You will be in the wild, and lighting may be limited. Especially so if staying at a property that runs on generator electricity .
Malaria medication and insect repellent. Many areas of Africa are home to malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Please consult a medical professional prior to travel to seek advice on what is the best anti-malarial treatment to take. In addition a general insect repellent is a must. Most lodges will provide some form of repellent, not always the best quality, so rather pack your preferred brand.
Binoculars can be handy. If your luggage has the space and weight allowance we recommend a good small pair of binoculars. Some of the high-end lodges do provide them for use while at the lodge. The majority do not. They are particularly important if you are a keen birder.