My clients often ask me what they should pack for a safari. My safari packing list gives you a good guideline for a 10-14 day safari in southern and eastern Africa (excluding a Kilimanjaro hike). The number one thing to consider when packing for a safari is to avoid overpacking. Small chartered flights on safari adhere to strict weight restrictions for all luggage.
In most cases, you will want to dress mainly for outdoor comfort in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Cotton and cotton/synthetic mixtures are most comfortable. Safaris can also be dusty, and while game viewing, the most practical clothing is tan, khaki, and other neutral colors. In the evenings, you’ll want an informal change of clothing for dinner. In the austral winter, you will need a heavy sweater or jacket when game viewing or spending any time outside in the early morning and evening.
3 pairs of light cotton pants or pants that convert to shorts, or 3 pairs of light cotton pants and 1-2 pairs of shorts
1 pair of long cotton pants suitable for walking in the bush
1 pair of jeans or other casual long pants for the evening
3 short sleeve shirts
2 long sleeve shirts (styles with tabbed, rollable sleeves are most versatile)
3 cotton t-shirts
1 lightweight jacket or windbreaker
1 safari vest for camera equipment (optional). The one by ExOfficio is really nice for all of its interior pockets.
Shoes and Accessories
1 pair of lightweight hiking or walking shoes. I'm a fan of shoes like Merrell sneakers and trail running shoes for how lightweight they are and how well they pack. In most cases, they can pull double duty as hiking/walking shoes, and casual shoes for the evening so you can save space in your luggage.
1 pair of comfortable shoes for the evening
1 pair of flip flops or sandals for use in your room, at the spa, or around the pool
10 pairs of socks
10 pairs of undergarments
1 wide-brimmed hat, especially to wear in safari vehicles while driving in the parks, as the tops are left open for game viewing and photography
1 bandana for dust and/or cooling
sunglasses with UV protection
Optional Items You May Want to Pack:
small personal flashlight
universal wall plug adapter kit
Don’t forget to pack any medications you are currently taking at your time of travel. You should also consider packing your preferred pain relievers, lip balm, sunscreen, antiseptic cream, personal toiletries, and insect repellent with 35% DEET. Most camps will have these items on offer, but if you have a preference and the room in your luggage, by all means, take it with you.
What you Shouldn’t Take with You on an African Safari
The number one rule when packing for an African safari is don’t pack too much. In Southern Africa, each person is limited to 44 pounds on the small aircraft. In East Africa, each person is allowed just 33 pounds. To save on weight, pack in a soft-sided duffel. Laundry service is available at most of the safari camps so you really only need to pack for a few days. There are a few properties that will not wash undergarments, but I can assist you with verifying those properties. If you wish to wash out your personal items while traveling, we suggest using a multi-purpose soap like Dr. Bronners to save space.
To help save on weight, don’t pack heavy hiking boots. Sneakers with a good tread like those I mentioned in our packing list above should be sufficient. Stay away from brightly colored clothing and camouflage patterns. Avoid dark blue and black, which tend to attract insects like tsetse flies. In an effort to reduce waste, don’t pack with plastic bags. When packing your toiletries, use transparent toiletry bags instead.
Remember, countries in Southern and Eastern Africa do not run on 120v like in the United States. In addition, most safari camps run on solar power or generators. They won’t be able to carry the electrical load from your hairdryer, straightener, or electric razor from home.
Ready to Plan Your Own Luxury Safari? I work hard in order to get to know each and every client and partner with you to design the ultimate itinerary. Contact me to customize your own luxury safari.
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