My mother says ‘pack’ is a four letter word.
And when you are faced with preparing to visit a continent that is a strange and unknown place pack is upgraded to being a daunting and intimidating four letter word.
What if I lose my luggage in a remote destination?
Will I be too cold or too hot?
And how do I pack for everything with the luggage weight restrictions of micro flights?
Is it true what they say about only wearing neutrals?
Do I have to buy everything new?
What if I forget something?
When it comes to practical problems 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. Over time we have perfected the art of packing for a Safari. Without the list of endless essentials.
Here are our top Safari packing tips
Keep it simple
Follow the basic rules 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.
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 clothes that will provide good sun protection and layers that will keep you warm.
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.
Have a strong shoe game
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.
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 something you need.
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)
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 everything you need.
Laundry Day is Every Day
Almost every property we use offer a daily laundry service with clothes hand-washed, sun-dried, beautifully folded and waiting for you within 24 hours.
It never Rains but it Pours
It is highly likely that you will never get wet. Rain is usually avoided entirely as you will be completely drenched within a few seconds of being exposed to African rain.
There are two notable exceptions:
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 raingear.
A little Color
You will be ready for your shower and a change of clothes after a day of sun, dust, and adventure. It is fine to inject a bit of color or glamour into your evening attire but formal clothes are never required. 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.
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 comfort.
Colors to Definitely Avoid are:
Dark blue and black may attract tsetse flies (trust us when we tell you a tsetse fly bite is something you don’t need to experience)
White will only last for a second. Then it will be covered in dust.
Camouflage is illegal in many African countries as it is only worn by soldiers.
Africa has many regions and each one offers specific adventures and 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 are always advised.
Don’t bring plastic bags as they are prohibited in many countries (yes that includes your Duty-Free bags.)
On Culture and Sun
African culture tends towards the conservative. No nudity and covering up when you are not on the beach is normal. If you plan to spend a number of days on a beach prepare to spend them under an 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.
Breaking it down
The Absolute Essentials
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
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 memorabilia
Anti-nausea bands for micro flights and bumpy rides
Image via Tom Cleary, Fancycrave, STIL, Shannon Litt, ray rui, jean wimmerlin, Nicole Olwagen, Martin Fennema