Packing is often one of the most exciting parts of preparing for a big trip, especially if you’re going somewhere as distant as Africa. You need to take plenty of care when packing your bags though, as there won’t be too many opportunities to drop by the shops and pick up something you’ve missed once you’re in the middle of the savannah. Here are some top tips from Safari Consultants, who have been on more safaris than you can count.
First thing’s first: you are likely to encounter luggage restrictions as you could well be using light aircraft to reach remote destinations. Use non-rigid bags that aren’t too large to avoid any complications.
The key for your safari wardrobe is neutral colours and lightweight clothing. Avoid colourful and bright clothing as much as possible. Specialist outdoors stores will often stock appropriate styles and fabrics. Africa can sometimes get surprisingly cold at night (in particular southern Africa winters and also at altitude), so you may need to bring more warm clothes than you imagined. Zip-off trousers are a good idea so that you can use them as shorts in the daytime and cover up at night to avoid insects. You will also need a sunhat and glasses. For footwear, you’ll need a pair of trainers or lightweight walking boots if you plan to undertake any walking safaris, but otherwise lightweight and comfortable footwear will suffice.
You won’t require soap, shower gel, shampoo or towels on a good quality safari, even if it’s in a tent, so this will free up your baggage space considerably. You will, however, need mosquito repellent, suncream, after-sun, lip balm, malaria prophylactics, anti-histamines, antiseptic cream, wet wipes, Immodium, painkillers and any personal medications. If you wear contact lenses, bear in mind that dust is a big problem, so bring plenty of fluid and your glasses, just in case.
You’ll need binoculars, camera, spare memory cards, battery recharger (there are usually facilities for recharging, including an international adaptor in most camps), reading material, a notepad and pens. A small torch and batteries will also be useful – a head-torch is handy a if you’re on a camping safari.
You will need to talk to your tourism provider, who will be able to advise you on exactly what you need to bring according to your destination, the nature of your safari activities and your accommodation.
Vivienne Egan writes for Safari Consultants.