A safari is a journey – and on a journey, the glamour is in the experience – not in the way we dress or what we take along! There are of course some standard items you definitely need and which you can find below. There are also some little-known items that will greatly enhance your time. Yet there is hardly any specialised clothing required for a safari itself – and more over it really does not need to cost as much as your safari itself again! Over the years we have found that the below is just fine for a week away – if diving, then of course you will need to add that packing list to the below.
Most of this you probably already have lying around
Below list is itemised on importance and practicality. We find this list will cover for ladies and gents alike. Where applicable, we have added specifics for either of you. In each section you will also find a suggestion, a recommendation based on our long years of doing safaris, and a little known secret item… ENJOY your Trip!
ELECTRONICS – Gear, gadgets and your memories – (possibly the most important items to buy and pack… )
Camera – bring lenses, all cables, multi socket / adapter and (Spare) SD cards
Bring (recharge-able) battery / batteries and bring spares !
If using film: bring film rolls.
Carry a small cool or foil lined bag to keep used film in.
Bring a USB stick (2)
Binoculars – for good game viewing see if you can find a min x
Torch or headtorch
- To save space, check with other members of a party what lenses they plan to use and what could / would be shared. But make clever swaps – the last thing you want to do is wait for a lens while seeing that cool shot happening…..
- download your pictures daily onto a USB stick!
-For animals & birds photography a good size all round lenses would be:
-Africa is dusty. Rather then bringing compressed air or a sensitive blow-brush: why not bring a 2$ synthetic large make-up brush with you for cleaning your gear (buttons and screens).
-Bring a large sock and a freezer / Ziplock bag. Fill the Ziplock bag with rice or beans (uncooked) from a local shop and stuff this inside the sock. Use as beanbag / support for that large lens in a moving or idling vehicle. After using, dump the rice / beans (and the single sock..) and voila – the cheapest beanbag ever. And: no extra weight with you.
While it may be tempting to try and dress as if you are on the scene of Out of Africa, the era in which bathtubs, gramophones, ice makers and crystal dinner sets were taken along into the bush are over. Dressing sensibly and comfortably is much more important ! Some outdoor outfitters would like you to take out a second mortgage on a wardrobe but again: this part of your journey should not have to cost the earth. So be clever, layer up, use items for multiple purposes, and simply stay warm / cool / dry / safe. Being fashionable is really not the point during a wildlife safari.
So in spite of being in Africa, make sure you stay warm and secondly stay protected from the sun.
Wind / water proof jacket(light weight, foldable, store in a small stuff bag when not using)
Fleece or warm sweater (not a parka) for evening & morning game drives or walks and for parks at altitude.
Woolly hat – it is COLD in an open car early AM !
Long trousers: light fabrics and light coloured. Look for cotton. Not too tight – you are likely to sit in the sun in them.
2 pairs of shorts: keep 1 for the ‘dirty work’ like game drives and hikes or picnics, and use 1 for evening wear – keep this pair clean. Wear the dirty set daily – and swap at end of day into the clean set!
-Ladies: a skirt can be comfortable – but choose a skirt that reaches at minimum to the knees as any shorter would be not be easy to get into cars / planes or be appropriate for local visits.
2 t shirts: one for the dirty work, 1 to keep clean. Light coloured like sand, olive, khaki.
1 long sleeved shirt – for warmth and sun protection
2 tank tops – layer up or catch some sun.
Swimwear: most lodges have a pool.
Socks & underwear: take for 1 week – you are likely to hit a laundry service within the week.
CLOTHING – OUTERWEAR:
-A light weight, multi purpose jacket for the transit sections would make the actual travelling a lot easier. When choosing one, make sure it has a few pockets and that these are actually large enough (try it out!) for a passport / folded money / a pen / a printed ticket. This jacket will help navigating messy airports and can serve you going for walk without carrying an obvious handbag.
-A good watch is essential in Africa – not too many frills and if diving: combine this piece of gear.
– Shoes: 1 light pair like sandals or beach flip flops, and 1 sturdier pair for a hike or walk in dirty streets. You do NOT need heavy duty hiking or climbing boots if you only tend to visit national parks by car. Light profile walking shoes or trainers are sufficient to wear in the parks – use socks to keep sticky grass of legs and bugs of ankles and to avoid blisters in heat.
Bring a pair of flip flops or comfy sandals to wear during transfers and evenings and during any dive section.
-A Hat, cap or sunhat: tropical destinations have strong sun, and you have to be vigil about staying hydrated / shaded / cool. Use a hat at sea, and for shade on your hat. Dehydration and heatstroke can ruin your day or even trip.
** A note on Dinners in Park lodges and the safari dress code:
These are not journeys where the day ends with a fancy dinners at the Captains Table. Safari Lodges are aware that there is only limited space for clothing and gear on these trips. Not all itineraries allow for daily laundry – so the only standard expectation really is to show up for dinner in the lodges in clean clothing – clean and comfortable. Your Clean Set can be used for this daily !
Long and short trousers for gents and ladies alike and a shirt with a fleece is entirely acceptable – just try and get cleaned up before heading to the bar….
-Carry a few (lightweight) D-rings or plastic karabiner hooks with you. Clip these onto your belt and use to carry your sun cap/hat or head torch or water bottle with you. You don’t always want to carry your entire backpack with you just to go to dinner and this frees up your hands / avoid forgetting torch etc.
-Choose (if available)light fabric like cotton for all clothing: more comfortable in heat and dust. If going on a walk amongst animals: avoid the smart fabric of many ‘trekking’ pants. When walking these make a swishing sounds and are likely to scare of small animals you may hope to see !!
-do NOT wear dark blue, black, bottle green. Many insects like flies and horseflies will mistake you for a buffalo or cattle (big and dark) and you will get bitten more when wearing dark colours then in the classic grey, green, sand, khaki.
Cleaning up: soap, shampoo, toothpaste & body lotion can easily be bought anywhere. Carry enough for 2 or 3 days.
Do bring copious supplies of: sunscreen, anti bug spray, aftersun if you use it, anti itch / bite spray. These are VERY expensive and mostly very hard to find in remote areas.
Carry lip balm or chapstick when hiking/game driving and planning to dive afterwards. Chafed lips are very painful in the ocean. Unavailable locally.
… and there will always be someone who runs out….
Female hygiene products: always bring with you. Do not count on finding these out in bushland.
Small first aid kit: besides bringing personal / prescription medicine, you should carry:
Basic painkillers (headache etc), some plasters, some fabric bandages, tape, anti septic cream / wash, anti diarrhoea pills, a few ORS sachets, a clean needle (blisters) and a set of clean surgical gloves.
Suggestion: Bring some Cup A Soup powder with you (after stomach bug)
Recommended: spray the edges of trousers, some socks, and the back of a fleece with bug spray before departure. This will add resistance once in the car and you don’t annoy your fellow travellers with spraying.
Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ lotion is a great body lotion BUT it is also the only lotion we know of that effectively deters the tse tse fly – their sting hurts.
Always inform yourself with the latest information available on local conditions, outbreaks, availability of medical help – or none. Check the need of vaccinations or updating them. Carry a translation card of any existing condition in the local language if you go somewhere you don’t know the language off !
Always Check again with a reliable local source on the latest details.
To stay healthy is your own responsibility – a lot of trouble can be avoided by awareness and the simply rules of hygiene: wash your hands, eat cooked food, drink clean and lots of water.
MALARIA & ANTI PROFYLAXIS:
We often get asked about this. Talk to your doctor first – but the best way to avoid getting malaria simply is: don’t get bitten. So wear sleeves, spray, use a net and check with the locals.
-if you have an existing medical condition / allergy / prescription medicine, try and find an accurate translation of these in the local language and print this on a card (plastic) – medical knowledge and languages are not always widely spread in remote areas. Think for example of finding the local word -or an image of!!- for any item you are allergic for, asthma, epilepsy, diabetes or tablets you may need.
Check this app:
….. Be aware of asking Google Translate for this… you may be having a very different disease according to google language…..
So, what do you use to pack all this in ? The jury is still out. It has to be easy to carry, move, pack, unpack. Sturdy zips, safe, but light…. So many demands, and no 1 bag fills them all !
We have travelled extensively with the hybrid style bags: backpack that have wheels. This makes travelling toi remote dive areas easier, climbing on busses or trains and reaching smaller off the grid hotels – the wheels wok as soon as you hit pavements and roads again…. However, smaller ladies may find it hard to use these are backpacks and may prefer a ‘real’ backpack…..
So: the only we can say: make sure you can close it, lock it, that it survives the toughest of travelling transit treatments, and – well – besides that: whatever you choose: don’t take a hard shell suitcase. Does not fit into any smaller car, truck, airplane. We tried. Does not fit.