How to Pack for an African Safari


When planning to travel to Africa to experience safari tours, it is important to pack properly. Most times, first-timers going on African safari pack too many things and the trip becomes more daunting due to weight restrictions on baggage. Thus, it’s crucial to know the appropriate things to pack for the bush. To help you plan and pack well, here are some essential things you’ll need for an African safari holiday.


1. Luggage

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The most important part of preparing yourself for an African safari is choosing the right bag. Safari planes and trucks are small, thus there’s not enough space for big bags and hard suitcases.(All airlines flying into and out of safari destination have a 15kg weight restriction on checked-in baggage and a strict 5kg maximum on cabin baggage) .Moreover, you’ll be traveling with other people. Big luggage will be difficult to carry around during your safari adventures. Therefore, it’s important to pack light in a soft-sided bag or backpack. Bags with a good carry handle or strap are essentials. You will also need a daypack to keep your water, camera and other essential items you want to bring along with you on the game drives or walking safaris.


2. Clothing

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You need to prepare for the heat you will face even in a safari truck. You need light and comfortable clothing that will allow you move around easily. Nylon and synthetic are not advisable but cotton and other breathable materials are the best. You also have to plan for how to wash them - so packing garments that are easy to wash and quick to dry is a smart move. Jeans are a staple for most people but they are not suitable for safari and can take a while to dry.

It's not always hot on safari in Tanzania and other East African countries, especially at night, or the early morning which is a favored time for game viewing activities. A suitable jacket with pockets is a must, as is warm headgear. Many people find light thermal underwear useful.  

For footwear, pack comfortable walking shoes, light hiking boots, or well-built athletic shoes.This protects your feet against rocks, stones, uneven ground, the grass and insect bites. Don't forget hiking socks and wool socks, which wick moisture or sweat away from your feet to avoid blisters and leave your feet drier.

If you're a lady packing for the safari, pick a sports bra as most roads are quite bumpy.

Whatever you do, keep the dark and red clothing at home. The red clothes and other brightly colored clothes do not blend in with the environment,  while dark clothes will attract insects. Plain muted colors like cream, khakis, soft olive, are favored for the safaris.


3. Toiletries

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A steady supply of wet wipes and tissues should always be around you. Taking a shower is easy in Africa but out in the bush, in a safari vehicle, there can be lots of dust. Additionally, it’s common out on a game drive to stop for refreshments and snacks in the middle of nowhere. Apart from your toothbrush and toothpaste, other toiletries that will serve you well include shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, razors, moisturizer, comb or hairbrush, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and toilet papers. You should also get a tropical strength mosquito repellant that will be helpful for you when it's time to sleep.


4. Camera

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Going on a safari adventure in Africa is an unforgettable experience, thus, it’s important to take good photographs for lifetime memories. Pack the right camera for the trip. You should not rely only on your smartphones for this beautiful experience.

There are different types of cameras and suggesting a particular camera for you might not be a good idea. No matter what type of camera you carry, it’s always the best whenever you see and capture an elephant wandering around the bush or a lion feeding on its prey. The right camera for you is the one you can use comfortably and can give you the results you want. If you’re not a professional photographer or you don’t even know anything about cameras, a compact camera may be the best for you. This is because safari holidays are not the perfect time to start learning the complexities of photography.

However, a compact camera does not have the settings, features and picture quality of a DSLR camera – Digital Single Lens Reflex. If you’re good with cameras, a DSLR camera is suitable for a safari holiday. If you can’t afford one, you can hire or borrow from a friend. Another factor to consider is the weight of a camera; so you should go for a DSLR that have small and light bodies for game drives and bush walks.

Don’t forget to always keep the camera lens clean from fingerprints and dust particles. If any sand particle or dust gets into the camera, it can cause damage to its functionality or deface your photos. You should not forget to carry a spare memory card - just in case the one in your camera is full. A spare battery is also essential; you can get lithium batteries for your camera.


5. Binoculars

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Apart from digital cameras, binoculars are essential tools you will definitely need for your safari adventures. In fact, they are the best tools for bird watching. You need a quality pair of binoculars that can help you get close up with the animals. For game viewing and bird watching, a binocular with 8  x 10 power and stabilizing feature is perfect for you. If you can’t afford to buy them, you can borrow or rent them.


6. Sun Protection

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The sun is intense in Africa. Invest in sun protector to avoid getting burned... You’ll also need a hat or cap that can cover your ears and sunglasses. You can bring a scarf or get a local scarf called Kikoy, which is made of 100% cotton when you get to Africa.


7. First Aid Kit

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Although most safari trucks have first aid kit, it’s important that you have yours in case of an emergency. Apart from your personal medications, your first aid kit should contain the following:

1. Antiseptic cream, disinfectant and antibiotic ointment – useful for mosquito or insect bite

2. Vitamins

3. Ibuprofen and aspirin – painkillers

4. Cotton wool and plasters, gauze bandages and tape – for treating wounds

5. Antihistamine

6. Motion sickness tablets

7. Imodium - to treat and control diarrhea

8. Anti-malaria tablets



For your personal medication, you should not forget to bring a letter from your doctor in case of any corner at the point of entry.

Quick Packing Tips: You can place your clothing, electronics, and accessories in a packing organizer to help you stay organized at all times. It makes it easy for you to access what you need and set aside what you don’t need. Similarly, to help you pack light, you can buy things like toiletries when you get to Tanzania so you won’t have to pack more than you should.

Irrespective of the items you decide to pack for your trip to Africa, safaris are always the best way to experience everything the continent stands for. Get a great flight deal to a safari destination in Tanzania with Flightlink. The excitement of an African safari doesn’t start when you pack your suitcase or when you’re already at the airport. It starts right now, right here when you book your safari holiday.

Published on:
November 1, 2017
Authored by:
Oluwakemi Ojo
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