What to Pack When You Go on a Safari in Africa

A lot of people going on a safari for the first time ask me what they should pack with them to take on their safari in Africa. So, here are some useful tips to smooth your journey, to make packing easier, and to ensure that you don’t leave any essentials behind.

5 Things to Remember When Packing for a Safari in Africa

1) Worried about What to Wear? Clothes to Pack for a Safari:

What to wearFirst, bear in mind that generally you are restricted to 12 kg in luggage (in soft bags) as you’ll be flying in light aircraft where weight restrictions are a serious matter. Comfort is essential, fashion statements immaterial. Shorts and pants are best as you’ll be doing a lot of climbing in and out of small aircraft and 4 x 4’s. Then pack a selection of tops to go with the bottoms – but not too many.

You don’t need a lot of clothes because laundry facilities are available and usually complimentary. Generally, you’ll be staying at least two to three nights in each place so getting things swashed and ironed is no problem at all. Just expect to wash your own underwear.

Something warm is very important as you’ll be driving early morning and at night in an open vehicle – even in summer months the wind chill can be mighty cold. I always take a lightweight warm jersey and a windcheater.

Comfortable walking shoes are a must and ladies – please leave your high heels at home! I usually throw in a pair of slip on sandals for wandering round the camp. I know it seems a cliché to recommend khaki or neutral clothing as ideal but this really is true. You are in the bush to observe wildlife and the more you camouflage yourself the better. Creeping up on a shy animal kind of works better if you’re not in a screaming pink T-shirt.

I personally like to freshen up and change for dinner in the bush, so often take a long skirt and a nice top for evening wear. However it’s perfectly acceptable to go to dinner in what you were wearing on the game drive. Life in the bush is very casual and anything goes.

When thinking about what to take on safari in Africa don’t forget sunglasses and sunhat – the African sun can be vicious, especially if you come from a relatively sunless place.

2) Cleanliness. What Toiletries to Bring on a Safari:

ToilettriesYou do not need stacks of creams and lotions in the bush. The more compact your selection of toiletries and products, the better. I usually take a moisturizing cream in a tube and let it double up as a night cream. Avoid anything in glass bottles as this is just not practical in the bush and adds weight to your luggage. Take small tubes of toothpaste.

Most camps supply basic toiletries – shampoo, body lotion etc in your room. Ladies – if you want to use cosmetics don’t take the whole collection. Rather do as I do and be very selective. Don’t take perfumes as they are not appropriate on safari. I always take a personal insect repellent in cream or stick form – easy to carry, easy to apply. The camps/lodges supply a spray insect repellent in your tent/chalet.

3) Feeling Itchy? How to Deal with Mosquitoes and Avoid Malaria on a Safari:

MosquitoeMosquitoes – these little biting bastards are a real nuisance that hit you at dusk. They are not such a problem in the winter months but are prolific during the hot, rainy season. These days, there are good prophylaxis products on the market, without side effects, to help prevent you from catching malaria. It’s best to consult your doctor or local travel clinic before you leave home.

Once you’re on a safari, it’s best to avoid getting bitten in the first place, so cover up as much skin as possible with long pants/skirts, and long-sleeved shirts/tops, then use insect repellent on your exposed bits.

4) Medications and Emergencies on a Safari!

Being in the bush involves being in the middle of nowhere, so if you are on medication don’t forget to take it with you. Be sure that your partner or friend that you are traveling with, the tour guide or someone on the tour knows about your medical conditions and where to find your medication, should an emergency come up.

5) The Last but Most Important Thing to Pack:

Remember that on safari, you are a privileged visitor to the animal kingdom, an honoured guest. Wild animals need to be treated with great respect. In return you’ll have a safari of a lifetime, with memories to treasure for ever.

Also – for your own peace of mind, since you run the chance of meeting something four-legged and wild in the dark after dinner on the way to your room, a trained resort escort is usually provided to escort you between destinations.

Jacquie Stafford has lived in Africa for over 40 years and brings you these tips based on personal experience. For more insights on safari life visit

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