What to pack for safari
Packing for a safari should be as much fun as the safari itself. Keep in mind strict luggage limitations and potential baggage loss when you pack your safari clothing, safari equipment, toiletry & medical kit, and documents.
What to expect from us:
Most camps that we transport clients to, provide the following:
Shampoo, body lotion, body soap, towels and face cloths, and insect repellent.
A torch / flashlight for each tent
Bed clothing and Mosquito nets
Drinkable Water (and other drinks) – so you won’t need to bring water filtration tabs.
1st aid material is also available in each camp.
Same-day laundry service is offered in all our camps and this is included in the cost of the safari – so you do not need to bring your whole wardrobe. However, please note that camp staff will not wash underwear.
All our camps are situated in remote areas and we generate our own electricity, to provide lighting in the tents. Electrical plug outlets are not available in the tented rooms with African Bush Camps so it is not possible to use appliances such as hairdryers or electric shavers.
Pack your Safari Clothing
Most people make the mistake of taking along too much clothing. Take along comfortable, casual and semi-casual, “wash and wear” clothes that will fit into the bush as well as to relax in, at your lodges or hotels.
Safari colors & material
Although you don’t need to dress fully as in ”Out of Africa”, you must avoid Hollywood-style or military clothing.
The sensible colours for your clothing are the classic safari colors (khaki, stone), that can be worn with Taupe, Pecan or Cadet colours as long as it remains neutral to the environment.
Avoid black and blue if you are going to an area with tsetse flies as they are attracted to both colours. Also avoid white for walking in the bush, as it stands out against the muted brown and green tones of Africa, and will also immediately show dust and dirt. For the majority of African countries, it is still not recommended to wear camouflage clothing that is associated with the military.
Always prefer non-synthetic, comfortable fitting.
Light & warm clothing
In the summer (October to April), temperatures can be very hot (40 Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit). You will feel most comfortable in shorts and T-shirts during the day. You will appreciate long sleeved shirts and pants to avoid sunburns, they will also protect you from mosquitoes in the evening. Temperature may drop sharply at nights: also pack a jersey, pullover and warm jacket, you will enjoy sitting by the campfire at night.
If you plan your safari in the winter (May to September), when the temperatures range from 23 – 28 degrees Celsius (73-83 Fahrenheit). during the day, but early mornings and evenings can be very cold (temperatures can go as low as 2 – 10 degrees Celsius). Be sure to have adequate warm comfortable clothing includes a warm jacket, especially for the early morning game drives.
Do not forget a rain jacket.
Bandanas, cotton scarfs and a sarong or pashmina may be very useful as well.
Safari hats are very important: they must provide you with complete coverage from the sun (including on the back of the neck area), your hat must allow your head to “breathe”, and be perspirant absorbent on the inside, while waterproof on the outside – to protect you in case of a storm. Ideal is a safari hat which you can flat pack in your luggage, and that is easy to clean when you get home. It is also a good idea to have a wind cord or cinch strap to secure your hat especially when travelling in an open safari vehicle or on a canoe.
Pack the right shoes for your safari: If you are going on a walking safari, you must take real safari boots (or rather two pairs of them). But if you are only going to go on an occassional walk, and go on game drives please bring a pair of shoes that are comfortable. Light, comfy sandals which are easy to slip off may actually be the perfect companion, allowing your feet to breathe. Sandals should be able to provide enough protection against thorns, stones and dust.
So the smart choice may be to pack both sandals and a pair of safari boots, trainers or normal shoes.
Clothing for canoeing safaris
You must bring a pair of rafting or canoeing shoes. You may appreciate having a long sleeved shirt to protect you from the sun, as well as a pair of gloves and a sarong. Most essential is a hat as described above and lots of sun block.
Example clothing list:
Adjust depending on the length of your safari and the season you are travelling:
2-3 pair of smart / casual trousers and 2-3 pairs of shorts
1 light cotton dress or sarong for the ladies
7 long-sleeve shirts or T-shirts
1 jacket, anorak or parka (winter), 1 windbreaker or rain jacket (summer)
1 pair of walking or running shoes, 1 pair of sandals, rafting or canoeing shoes
underwears, 5 pairs of sock, 1 swimming suit, 1 belt
Pack your safari equipment:
Optical & electronics:
Binoculars (ideally 1 pair for each participant, or 1 per couple)
Your camera (200 mm lens and longer) and/or video camera, films, memory cards, batteries and charger – please see our camera advice
Southern African outlets have 3 round prongs (with 1 bigger than the other 2) or 2 small round prongs. Power goes 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz.
Generally, the 110V video chargers work safely on the 220V supply.
1 torch or flashlight and spare batteries if you like to have yours (while you rest in your camps, one will be provided in your tent)
Small compass if you like to use one.
Pen for immigration formalities
Locks for luggage
Calculator (or use your cellphone) for currencies
Travel alarm clock
Mini sewing kit
1 multi-purpose knife (not to be packed in your hand luggage to avoid confiscation at the airport )
a canteen or water bottle
ziplock & other plastic bags (to pack camera, toiletries, wet/ dirty clothing, muddy shoes, non-organic garbage, …), especially if you go on canoeing safaris
Books for reading during leisure time
Books on birds & wildlife – although you will find interesting ones in our camps
A diary to write your journal and record the wildlife you see.
A guide book and maps for the area you are visiting
Deck of cards
Pack your toiletry, medicine & 1st Aid
Toiletries such as soap/shampoo, toothbrush toothpaste, etc
Comb/ hair brush, nail brush
Moisturising Cream, Lip balm
Razor & blades (preferable battery operated shaver), shaving gel for the gentlemen
Small scissors, if not on your Leatherman/Swiss knife
Small unbreakable mirror
Light towel and wash cloth – towels are supplied though in our camps
Toilet paper and / or kleenex, wet wipes/hand sanitizer or no-water/antibacterial soap – very handy in the safari vehicle.
Sanitary requirements (shops may be basic or not easily accessible)
Birth control (for the whole trip, as there will be no pharmacies in the bush)
Suntan lotion/ Sunblock (lots of it)
For your eyes:
Sunglasses with polarized lenses
Reading glasses (if you wear contacts bring glasses as it can be very dusty)
Contact lens solution & extra set of disposable lenses
1st Aid / Medical kit:
We have 1st aid kits in the camps, but if you travel otherwise you may like to carry your own kit, and also you must include your own malaria tables and personal medicines.
Malaria tablets (very important if you traval to Hwange National Park, Victoria Falls, Mana pools, Okavango Delta, or other malaria-prone areas)
Painkiller, Ibuprofen, Cold/flu tablets, Allergy remedy
Motion sickness tablets
Heartburn remedy, Anti-diarrhoea medicine, Re-hydration salts
Antiseptic cream, anti-histamine creams
Some people take a basic antibiotic in case
Sterile needles (in case you need an injection and don’t trust the hygiene conditions)
Prescribed medicine (enough to last your trip).
Basic 1st Aid kit with band aids & moleskin – though we have the necessary in the camps.
Passport valid for at least 6 months, and the required visas
Air tickets & vouchers
Emergency phone number and contact details
Credit cards, traveller checks and/or cash in currencies
Additional form of photo ID (e.g. driving license),extra passport photos, photocopy of passport, visa and travel tickets to carry separately from your travel documents
Vaccination certificates (if required), medical history and copies of prescriptions.
Luggage weight, type & size limits
When travelling on normal scheduled international flights, the luggage limit is usually 20kgs per person.
On light aircraft transfers there is a 20 kg per person limit on luggage. This is for safety and space reasons. Please note that this 20 kg includes any cameras, camera bags and associated equipment.
No hard suitcases or bags with wheels can be transported as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft. We insist on a soft carry-on (instead of a suitcase) with the following maximum dimensions: 80 cm by 30 cm.
If it is necessary to bring extra bagagge, we can usually “sell” you an extra seat, allowing you to bring an additional 70kgs (154lbs). The cost of this extra seat varies depending on your safari.
The luggage limit is taken very seriously by charter companies. Additional luggage can result in an extra aircraft being used and charter companies reserve the right to charge at least US$600 per person.
Ideally, you will carry 1 large travel bag and 1 hand luggage bag only – amounting to a total of 20 kgs.
Potential baggage loss
We have a regular client who has arrived off his international flights without his luggage on three seperate occasions. Take his advice: make sure you have a small bag, taken as hand luggage, packed with essentials such your toiletries, a change of underclothes, spare shirt/shorts etc., as well as binoculars and camera(s) and any special medication you may be on.
It can take many days for your belongings to catch up with you once you have gone into the bush. Our problem is that the luggage that goes missing on scheduled flights is beyond our control, and often that of the airline as well. Also, the scheduling and costs of charter flights may hamper us in getting your goods back to you. This also applies if you leave belongings behind at any camp.