What to pack and Safari Advise
This is the ultimate safari packing list and we believe offers the best response to the frequently repeated question "What should I pack for my safari.
Packing and general advise
This packing list has been in the making and has been made compiled by previous guests and safari experts to ensure that you pack the correct safari clothing and gear for just about all types of safaris: game drive safaris, walking safaris, canoe or paddling safaris, horse safaris, gorilla safaris, and mountain trekking safaris. In a sentence: we are dedicated to ensuring that you have the most incredible time on safari and packing the right safari clothing, luggage, binoculars, and all the other important accessories is key to this.
As a general introduction to the safari experience, most safaris start early in the morning and will be on open safari vehicles with little protection from wind and rain. The rule of thumb is to dress in layers for all activities.
How to use this safari packing list
Please also note that if your safari is longer than 12 days - and if you will have a laundry service available on your safari - that you should only take the recommended number of items for a 12-day safari or you will run out of space in your safari luggage.
We have also included accessories you may need for add-on safari activities such as gorilla safaris, plus everything else you will need to remember to pack in your bag.
Top safari packing advice from our safari experts
When packing for your safari, select safari clothing which offers some or all of the following six key travel garment technologies:
1. Safari clothing which is easy to pack, dries quickly, and wicks moisture away from the skin;
2. Safari clothing which offers a built-in insect defence.
3. Safari clothing that offers protection from the sun. This will be shown as an SPF rating. 50+ is the highest rating available today;
4. Safari clothing that is lightweight.
5. As we all prefer to smell fresh, select safari clothing that uses an anti-microbial or anti-bacterial fabric. This also means that you will be able to wear the same safari clothing for longer and so pack less and travel lighter.
6. Add to the protective performance of the safari clothing which you take on safari by packing a wide-brimmed, packable safari hat, an effective sunscreen, and insect repellent which has been proven to work to spray onto your safari clothing, safari hat, and skin.
Safari Packing List Pre-Departure Timeline
8 to 12 weeks before departure
Visa: If you require a visa and want to get it beforehand, make sure that you apply for the visa as soon as possible.
Passport: Check that your passport has sufficient pages as most African countries require two blank pages or more, and that your passport does not expire within 6 months. Apply for new passport if needs be.
Medication: Ensure that you visit your doctor and tell him where you are going. He will then advise you on malaria prophylactics, and other injections or medication that is necessary for your trip
Make sure that you have settled your balance due for your holiday with your tour operator.
8 Weeks Prior to Departure
Safari supplies: This is a good time to start shopping for your safari supplies
Re-confirm: If travelling independently, you must go through your itinerary, check that all flight times (including dates) coincide with your holiday dates, and contact all lodges, camps, hotels, transfer, private guides & car hire companies to re-confirm your holiday details
Pets, houses etc: Make sure you have made arrangements for your pets, booked a house sitter, and any other arrangements you may need to make for services and so forth.
4 Weeks Prior to Departure:
Departure-day planning: A smooth departure day takes 3/4 of the stress out of your holiday. Make sure that you arrange your transport to and from the airport, taxis, trains, buses etc.
Travel money: Work out what you are going to do to pay for tips, purchases, extra tours etc while travelling. Arrange cash, credit & debit cards, travellers cheques accordingly (travellers cheques tend to be problematic to use in most parts of Africa - cash and credit cards are best! Take small denominations in cash in US Dollars - US$1, 5, 10 & 20 for tips and sundry purchases).
1 to 2 Weeks Prior to Departure
Pack: If you are organised, this is a good time to start packing for your trip. Ensure that you have all the correct safari clothing and luggage. Also work out what you are taking as hand luggage, and what will go into the hold.
Check: Check again that you have your passport with visa, correct travel documentation, travel vouchers, confirmed itinerary, tickets, etc
Inform: your bank & credit card provider that you are going away so they know to expect transactions from outside your home country; Let your mobile phone company know too, and set up your preferred setting for roaming; Remind friends and family that you are going away - passing on your itinerary, with hotel/lodge/camp contact details to people involved in managing your affairs while you are away is also a good idea.
Confirm: Taxis, train times, pet & house sitters. This may also be a good time to check on exchange rates for the country you are going to.
Ready: Nice & relaxed, with the proper preparation this should be as simple as picking up your luggage and travel documents, locking the front door, jumping into your transport, or walking to the train station, checking in and taking off. Allowing yourself sufficient time to check in at the airport is vital in reducing the stress of travel. Arrive early, rather than late. Use own email address to send the link to this page to yourself for easy reference.
Find below your custom Safari Packing List
Safari Clothing to Pack for Your Safari
Safari Shirts, Safari Trousers and/or Shorts
Safari Jacket or Fleece
Keep warm and cosy on any safari by packing a safari jacket or fleece.
Wide-brimmed Safari Hat
A wide-brimmed safari hat is very useful on all safaris, no matter the weather
Women's Safari Dress(es) and/or Skorts, You should pack a safari dress or safari skorts - and also learn what "skorts" are and why they are great for safari game drives. Add classical style and versatility to your safari look.
Blister-proof socks for walking safaris
To find out which Blister-proof socks for walking safaris are best to pack for your safari
Safari Beanie & Scarf
When you get chilly on safari, will you will definitely wish you had packed some small, light layers to keep your head, neck, and hands warm.
Safari Shoes (walking shoes + camp shoes)
Large Soft-sided Safari holdall or duffle
Small Safari Bag for Game Drives, Walks, and Safari Activities.
Safari Hydration Backpack
Collapsible Luggage Trolley
Keeping all your travel documents, money and cards in a travel wallet makes good sense - especially as the more disorganised the border the more organised you want to be. As always be savvy and keep some money and cards in another location just in case your travel wallet goes missing.
Safari-suitable camera and lenses
Insect Repellent (Africa-tested)
Given that we only have one pair of eyes, wear a good pair of sunglasses.
Keeping your various devices fully charged is key to recording, sharing and staying in touch with loved ones on safari. Make sure to work out how many devices you need to charge and take enough adaptors and charging cables with you to simultaneously charge all your devices.
Spare batteries, chargers, memory
Always take spare batteries and make sure you pack chargers for your smartphone, torch, camera, laptop, tablet computers, and any other electronic devices. Our rule of thumb is to always take more batteries than you think you will need - and the same is true for memory cards for your photographic devices. It would be very sad to run out of power and memory on your camera halfway through your safari. Also investigate what power source will be available to you for charging devices while you are on safari.
Specialist Safari Clothing And Gear To Pack
Anti-chafe tights for walking & active safaris
Bad chafing - as with bad blisters - may make your walking or active safari very uncomfortable. We recommend that you wear a pair of anti-chafe running tights under your safari trousers or safari shorts just to make sure that your inner thighs do not chafe.
Pair of gardening gloves for gorilla safaris
The forests of Rwanda, Uganda, and eastern Congo where the last remaining mountain gorillas are found can be challenging, thickly-vegetated places to go trekking. As this vegetation is made up of all sorts of plants with thorns, serrated leaves, and sword-like fronds, it is advisable to pack a pair of gardening gloves so that you do not cut your hands as you scramble up steep slopes and pull back bushes to make your way in search of these elusive great apes.
Dry-bag for water-based safaris
For water-based safaris such as canoe safaris, boating safaris, green-season safaris, and dugout/mekoro safaris, pack your valuables into one of our smaller safari bags and then pack that into a waterproof dry-bag to keep your essential safari gear dry. We recommend that you first test your dry-bag by filling it with tissue paper, closing it, and submerging it under water in your bath or a pool. If the tissue gets wet, then try re-sealing your dry-bag or get a better dry-bag.
Pair of ankle gaiters for walking safaris
Get extra protection for your ankles and your socks by using ankle gaiters.
General Clothing To Pack For Your Safari
Non-safari shirts for travel and around the camp
While safari-coloured clothing is ideal to wear when travelling to your safari and relaxing around camp, sometimes nothing beats a crisp white shirt to wear around camp or to dinner at night. After a long hot day in the sun, take a long bath or refreshing shower and put on a crisp white shirt or a stylish travel shirt for the evening to look and feel great.
Packing extra safari shirts will, of course, depend on how much space you have left in your safari luggage once you have packed the essential safari clothing and gear.
Note: If space is limited, only take an extra non safari-coloured shirt and wear it with your safari trousers or shorts.
Casual trousers and/or shorts
While safari clothing doubles well as everyday clothing to wear when you travel and relax around the camp in the evenings and during the day, pack casual shirts and/or t-shirts if space allows. Also see "non-safari shirts for travel and around the camp" on this packing list.
Swimming costume or trunks
Many lodges have a pool and it is great to be able to take a dip during the day.
Underwear : The estimated underwear quantity to pack is based on being able to wash underwear quickly and easily.
Pyjamas : If you sleep in pyjamas, pack one or two pairs. Most top-end safari lodges do provide gowns should you opt out of wearing pyjamas on safari.
Kikoy or Sarong: A safari-coloured kikoy is very useful to pack for your safari simply as they are very versatile. Wear your kikoy as a scarf, on your head, or even as a skirt or dress. They are very useful for around the pool too. Also learn what a Kikoy is.
Gym gear or Sportswear: If your safari camp or lodge has a gym, then by all means pack your gym clothing to stay fit on safari - and to counter all that delicious safari food and drink you will be served.
If you enjoy running, then some lodges may be able to take you for a run with one of their fitter guides - at your own risk of course. The way this would usually work is that you would drive in a safari 4x4 game-viewer to a big open plain or to the airstrip and then your guide would run with you while someone drives the safari 4x4 game-viewer close behind you.
Be sure to drink lots of water whenever you exercise in Africa as safari areas are often high above sea level and, if you exercise at midday, then pretty hot too. It is also a good idea to take some rehydration sachets or drink tea before and after exercising.
Seasonal Safari Clothing To Pack
Waterproof Safari Jacket for the rainy season
Important Items To Pack For Your Safari
Safari Packing Advice for Passports:
For your safari, always ensure that your passport has two blank pages and is valid for 6 months after the end date of your safari.
Double check visa requirements and find out whether or not you are easily able to get visa on arrival at your safari destination or if getting visas beforehand is advisable.
Leave yourself with enough time before your safari to obtain visas should they be required.
Keeping a certified copy of your passport with your travel documentation and separate to your passport may come in handy should you lose your passport.
If you have more than one nationality and passport, we advise that you travel on safari with both just in case one goes missing so that you are able to prove who you are.
If you have another form of identification such as an identity book or driver's license, then travel with this also. Keep this separate to your main passport.
Another option is to leave your spare passport or certified copy at home with a trusted family member or colleague for them to courier to you should your passport go missing on safari.
Health card and insurance details
Pack your health card and travel insurance details for your safari - and let your health insurer know that you are travelling to Africa. They will usually ask you for the dates for your trip too. Double check that you are covered for repatriation and medical expenses should anything go wrong while you are on safari.
Air tickets & travel vouchers
We advise that you take hard copies for your air tickets and hotel and travel vouchers on safari. Technology might run out of battery life, whereas paper does not.
Credit Card : We find that Visa is most widely accepted in Africa, but note that not all lodges accept credit cards, so it is best to find this out from your lodge or tour operator before you travel.
Translator app and Calculator : Find a suitable translator app, most African countries speak English, however download a suitable app just in case and always great to learn a few words in a different language. Take a calculator on safari or use your smartphone for conversion calculations.
Money pouch with some cash in it
We prefer to use credit cards where possible, but taking some smaller denominations of US dollars is always a good idea for tipping and any emergencies. Opt for mostly US$5, $10, and $20 notes with a few $50 notes just in case. Do not travel with large sums of money, however, and note that many countries in Africa have cash points (ATMs) where you will be able to withdraw local currency too. Again, however, don't overdraw as you do not want to be heading home with a wallet full of a currency you cannot use.
Prescription Glasses & Hard Glasses Case
It would be a pity to travel all the way to Africa but forget to pack your glasses. Pack them in a hard suitcase so that they outlast even the roughest safari transfer or game drive - and also pack an extra emergency pair just in case you drop yours.
Safari reading material
Take along a small selection of good safari guides books, maps, and fiction and non-fiction books which cover areas which interest you. You will add to the enjoyment of your safari by being able to read up on the wildlife you view while on safari - and you will have lots of spare time between morning and evening safari activities. Always keep in mind the luggage allowance and how much you are able to carry on active safaris such as walking safari.
Super glue. It can come in handy.
Toiletries To Pack For Your Safari
Malaria prophylaxis for malaria areas
As a team, we sometimes do and sometimes don't take malaria medication. We always recommend that you discuss where you are going and the recommended medication to take with your medical doctor.
Motion sickness pills
Only if needed for light aircraft flights on safari.
Only pack lip balm for your safari if you use it regularly. We find that, by using it, you need it but, if you don't use it, then your body does a pretty good job of looking after your lips.
Most safari camps have shampoos and conditioners available in your room, but you may prefer to use your brand of choice on safari.
While some safari shirts feature technology which will keep your shirt smelling fresh for longer - always take deodorant. We usually pack roll-on simply as it lasts so long and is less bulky.
Toothpaste and toothbrush
This isn't usually something which safari lodges offer in their room so pack your toothbrush and favoured brand of toothpaste on your safari.
This is something we always take with us as it is surprisingly useful beyond being great from getting stuff out from between your teeth - it can be used as emergency twine too for repairing safari clothing, safari luggage and so on.
Hair brush / comb Pack Or take a break and let your hair go a little wild. Most of the animals are not judgemental.
Razor, tweezers, etc.
If you are not sure about the availability of electricity at your safari lodge, then either find out from the lodge or take a normal razor and shaving cream. Tweezers on safari are very useful not only for preening - annoying splinters on an active safari could hamper the enjoyment of your safari.
Hand & body lotion
With many safari areas high above sea level - and with all that dry dusty goodness - you may wish to moisturise your hands and body.
Take sufficient amounts for the length of your stay in Africa on safari.
Contact lenses and fluid
An African safari can be dusty so pack extra contact lenses and fluid.
The visa requirements vary for each country depending on your nationality, so please check with the lodge or your travel agent to confirm visa requirements for your travels.
If entering South Africa, please note that you will need 6 blank facing pages in your passport.
Malaria is prevalent in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and some parts of South Africa. It is highly recommended that you consult and obtain a malaria prophylactic from your local physician prior to travel.
You must also have a yellow fever vaccination if entering Tanzania, Zambia or Zimbabwe after coming from an infected area.
Up to date Tetanus and Hepatitis injections are required for some countries, but recommended for all.
Please ensure that you have medical insurance for your travels. All of the lodges have First Aid trained staff and medical insurance for emergencies, but in many places, like Namibia, you may need to pay up front to receive medical attention, due to the remoteness of many of the lodges.
Please make sure to lock all of your bags when travelling and to obtain travel insurance prior to departure. It is recommended that you travel with a set of clothes and essential items in your carry-on bags in case of luggage being lost.
Most airlines travelling to Safari Camp destinations have a luggage limit between 12-20 KG and require luggage be packed in soft bags, please confirm prior to departure.
Lodges accept all major currencies (USD, GBP, and Euro). If using USD, please make sure to bring new notes as most countries do not accept old notes (with smaller heads). Many lodges accept credit cards, but generally only Visa and MasterCard, please check with the lodge if they accept your particular card and if any fees will be incurred. Cash is the easiest form of payment during your stay.
In some countries like Tanzania and Zambia, you may be required to pay departure tax when departing from the airport on an international or domestic flight. Please confirm with the lodge prior to departure if you will need to pay departure tax and what the current rates are.
Voltage is AC 220V at most lodges, but plugs vary from country to country, so make sure to travel with a set of adapters to ensure your ability to charge and use your appliances on your safari. Some bush camps may not have power in the rooms, but do have a facility to charge cameras, etc.
Water which is served is safe to drink at all of the camps, but if you would prefer bottled water, please request from staff and they will be happy to accommodate your wishes. Please be careful when consuming water in rural areas.
Please make sure to inform the lodge staff of any dietary requirements or allergies prior to travel.
Tipping is not required at any of the lodges, but if you feel the service was deserving of a tip, a general guideline is $5-$10 per person per day for guides, valets, and general lodge staff.
Thank you for using our safari packing list and advise to help you plan and pack for your safari. We are confident that by following this list you will make the most of your incredible safari experience.