My mother says ‘pack’ is a four-letter word.
And what to pack for safari is a question that is loaded with concerns about the strange and the unknown. Suddenly pack is upgraded to a daunting and intimidating four-letter word.
What if I lose my luggage in a remote destination?
Will my safari wear be too cold or too hot?
How do I pack for everything with the luggage weight restrictions of micro flights?
Is it true what they say about the best safari clothes being neutrals?
Do I have to buy all new African safari clothes?
What if I forget something?
As far as solving practical problems go, nothing beats experience and luckily that is one thing we have a lot of. Leora Rothschild and all our Travel Designers and Client Managers are constantly traveling throughout Africa and around the world. Over time we have perfected the answer to the question ‘What to wear on safari?’. Without endless lists filled with essentials.
© ray rui – unsplash.com
Here are our
15 top Safari packing tips
1. Keep it simple
Follow the basic rules about what to take on safari and try not to overthink your packing too much. A luxury Safari is designed to have your comfort in mind and you will have kind assistance along the way.
2. Hot and Cold
Africa is generally hot. But it can also be quite chilly and you will be more exposed to the temperature than you might be used to. You will receive a dedicated packing list with every Safari – we have your back – but in general, you can concentrate on lightweight safari clothing that will provide good sun protection and layers that will keep you warm.
3. Every Day Dust
Safaris are dusty. The amount of general dust can be surprising… you may find bits of Africa in your clothes and shoes after you return home. The classic colors you may associate with a Safari blends well with dust. It will also help you blend into the wild effortlessly and it won’t attract unusual interest from insects that use color cues.
4. Let your Shoe Game be Strong
Don’t bring heavy walking boots unless you plan to do heavy walking. Do bring shoes that have already been broken in. Do make sure your shoes are closed. Excellent safari footwear can be considered the foundation of your daily experience.
5. Safari Shopping
If you forget something or leave something behind in a camp you will find replacements. They might not be an exact replica or your favorite brand but you won’t have to worry about going without clothes to wear on safari.
© STIL – unsplash.com
6. The Micro Allowance
You know the word Safari means journey… and you will be traveling between destinations and might take in four or five locations on one Safari. Everything you bring with you will have to travel with you. And your international airline luggage allowance will not translate to a micro plane. There is little room for flexibility here and size and weight restrictions are not merely suggestions (if you are overweight you may have to charter an entire aircraft to have your luggage follow you)
7. Advance Warning
When your Safari does take you away from all access to shops for a number of days your guides and Travel Designers will ensure you have a detailed safari packing list for everything you need.
8. Laundry Day is Every Day. Hooray!
Almost every property we recommend offers daily laundry service with clothes hand-washed, sun-dried, beautifully folded and waiting for you within 24 hours.
9. It Never Rains but it Pours
Do bring a lightweight rain jacket but also note that rain is usually avoided as much as possible on safari: an African shower can easily drench you to the bone within minutes.
10. Two Notable Exceptions to Rule No.9:
If you go to see Victoria Falls during high water you will be supplied with full rain gear as the spray from the Falls can be likened to standing a power shower.
Gorilla trekking may require dedicated raingear.
© Angela Compagnone– unsplash.com
11. A little Color
You will be ready for your bath and a change of clothes after a day of sun, dust, and adventure. Formal attire is almost never a requirement on safari but with a backdrop like Africa you will never be at risk of upstaging your environment – feel free to inject a bit of color or glamour into your evening attire. Do make sure every piece you bring is chosen for comfort first, ensuring it will protect you from dropping temperatures and insects.
Leave your jewelry at home and invest in some African jewels to wear on Safari instead.
Even the big cities in Africa are far more casual than their European or American counterparts. While the dress is urban rather than Safari, there is very rarely a reason to dress for anything but convenience.
12. Colors to Definitely Avoid are:
Dark blue and black may attract tsetse flies (simply trust us when we tell you a tsetse fly bite is something you don’t need to experience).
White will only be white until two seconds after you take it out of your suitcase. Then it will be dirty.
Camouflage is illegal in many African countries as it is only worn by soldiers.
13. Limited Edition Travel
Africa has many regions with specific adventures on offer in each one. Your Travel Designer will always advise you if you need to pack something specific to accommodate temperature, culture or activities.
If you are female and plan to go on game drives a couple of great bras with good support will make you very happy.
If you are male we have detailed, practical lists for all your needs here.
Don’t bring plastic bags as they are prohibited in many countries (yes that includes your Duty-Free bags.)
14. Culture under the Sun
African culture tends towards the conservative and our safari clothing recommendations will always take particular seasons, weather and cultural preferences into consideration. No nudity anywhere outside your personal accommodation and covering up when you are not on the beach is normal.
If you do plan to spend a number of days on a beach prepare to grow quite attached to your umbrella as the African sun is simply too strong to lie in. Sun protection is best bought at home as African products tend to have a lightening element added, there is a very limited choice of brands and the products may not be of a good standard.
Pack a great hat and beware the ‘Game Drive tan’ where you have a single red arm.
(Stay hydrated and do watch for signs of heatstroke.)
Maybe you are not looking forward to packing your safari clothes but you can see yourself investing in a range of safari toys for your trip?
There is no judgment here.
And we won’t tell if you spend hours perusing our handy gadget guide!
© Somalisa – Acacia
Breaking It All Down
The Absolute Essentials Safari Packing List
A High-SPF sunscreen and a sunhat.
Comfortable lightweight clothes in breathable fabrics and neutral colors.
Long sleeves and pants are great for both sun and insect protection.
Comfortable closed shoes that you have already worn in. Light shoes if you won’t do much walking. Boots if walking is the main attraction.
A light fleece or sweater for the evenings. Temperatures can vary as much as 30 degrees (15 degrees C) in one day.
All your personal medication.
Very Lovely Extras for your Safari Packing List
Good polarized sunglasses.
Your camera equipment (include a dust cover).
Small-denomination US dollars.
And Notable Mentions…
Reference books (you can download them to save on space and weight restrictions).
A power strip for charging.
A supply of business/personal cards as you will have many opportunities to connect with other incredible people.
A second bag for your
shopping very important memorabilia.
Anti-nausea bands for micro flights and bumpy rides.
We will do our best to ensure packing for your first safari is a breeze and you will be perfectly prepared for every adventure Africa has in store.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald said:
‘I’m not sure what I’ll do, but–well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow, want to live where things happen on a big scale.’