An endless sunrise over the Serengeti. Midnight marauding alongside ferocious predators in the Masai Mara. Roaming with giants across the Okavango Delta. African safaris conjure images of raw, wild nature and a glimpse into the remote unknown. Attempting this adventure should be on every world travelers bucket list and is a guaranteed unforgettable experience. While the scope of the journey may seem grand, packing your safari bags right is a simple, yet crucial element to the trip of a lifetime.
Packing light is critical. To access the most serene and far flung locations you will need to take a variety of small planes and ground vehicles. These transports will literally not have room for your stuff if you over pack! Weight and space restrictions will often limit your luggage to the basics so you need pack smart. Assume your limit will be that of a small carry-on (33lbs/15kg).
The Basics and Essentials:
You won’t have access to all the niceties of home but many African cities and towns/villages along your route will have more available than you’d imagine. Pack these along if you can.
- Camera (plus spare batteries, external hard drive, other gear depending on your level of photography skills)
- Head Lamp/Flashlight
- Binoculars (worth the investment, especially for safari)
- Universal charger and 3 plug adapter (most lodges/camps have a limited number of outlets so bringing a multi plug adapter can help your camera gear and other electronics stay charged and ready for action)
- Cash for tipping guides
- Reusable dry bags (to keep gear everything dry and keep away from plastic zip-locks. Kenya and Rwanda have banned plastic bags outright)
If you’re wondering what to wear on safari, don’t overdo it and think function over fashion. Many lodges and camps will have a laundry service where you can get clothing hand washed, dried and fresh for the next adventure. Pack layers for varying weather conditions to be prepared for anything. Neutral colors are important as to not broadcast your whereabouts to large predators and sneaky animals.
- Nice Hat (here’s your chance to blend fashion and function)
- Good athletic shoes/boots (lightweight hikers or boots that you can get muddy and wet)
- Long Sleeve Shirt (for warmth and to keep away the bugs and sun)
- Lightweight Down or Fleece Jacket (late-night and mornings can get chilly, even in Africa)
- Pants/Shorts Zip-Away Style (while painful to look at stylistically, these are perfect for safari)
- Socks (several pairs of athletic/cotton style and at least one wool)
- Comfy pants, sandals/slippers (for post exploration lounging)
Bring your standard essentials (toothbrush, deodorant, razor, etc.) but keep it minimal as you need to bring a variety of tubes, potions, and pills in case anything goes array.
- Bug Spray (widely available all over the country but needed!)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Anti Malaria Pills/Antibiotics (just in case)
- Antihistamine (Benadryl or similar)
- Antibiotic cream (Neosporin or similar)
- Athletic tape (for blisters, scrapes or sprains)
- Advil/Tylenol/Generic Painkiller
- Cortisone Cream (for insect bites/rashes)
- Eyemask/Earplugs (if you prefer not to be serenaded by wild creatures)
The list isn’t long but filling your safari luggage with these supplies will cover your basic needs and ensure you have some creature comforts and the ability to document and enjoy the journey. Make tweaks to the above as you find necessary but know this blueprint will keep the lions at bay and your bag light enough to cruise comfortably into the African sunset.