Packing to be comfortable and look smart on safari can be a challenge. In many of the countries our clients visit, transfers between camps are in small planes with strict luggage limits of 50, 33 or even 20 pounds, depending on the destination.
For our clients carrying the larger camera lenses that will capture the amazing wildlife adventures they are sure to witness, the challenge is even greater.
So, what are the most important items to keep in mind for your safari adventure?
Safari Packing Basics
Clothing colors should be chosen based on landscape and vegetation. Khaki, olive and brown work well everywhere and don’t show dirt. If you want to bring white garments, remember that you will often be on game drives in open vehicles and you will get the rich red soil of Africa on everything! In addition, white shirts are not recommended on game walks in Southern Africa and red is discouraged in East Africa because predators may shy away from red; they associate the color with Masai warriors!
Cotton clothes and moisture-wicking fabrics are good for staying cool during bush walks in the heat of the day.
Shorts, slacks or skirts with shirts and a cotton sweater or other layers to shed as the day heats up are perfect.
A hat with a brim is essential, as are sunscreen and sunglasses.
Comfortable walking/running shoes, worn with socks are recommended. I like sports sandals for game drives or around the lodge, but not for walks where there may be thorns. In the early morning and evening, socks with your shoes deter mosquitoes.
Include a lightweight raincoat or jacket, and a swimsuit if your camp has a pool.
Early mornings and late evening game drives can be quite cold. Be sure to bring a warm jacket (fleece or a Nano Puff® Jacket), a woolen scarf and hat and gloves.
If you are staying in small tented camps you will probably not have time to change for dinner… it will be safari wear 24/7. At high-end lodges, guests tend to dress up a bit for dinner. Smart casual is the standard.
Laundry service is available (and free in Africa) at most of the camps we use. I like to take three changes of clothes for a week on safari.
I avoid heavy jeans because they take a long time to dry and I don’t like packing wet clothes!
Marcia's personal packing lists
Remote tented camps:
2 pair of comfortable, lightweight khaki pants
2 pair of lightweight shorts or leggings or a comfortable long skirt
2 long-sleeve shirts that can be worn over T-shirts
2 short-sleeve shirts
3 cotton T-shirts
1 pair of walking shoes, sneakers or hiking boots and alternate pair of shoes such as heavy sandals
1 pair of flip-flops for pool and wear inside your tent
1 wide-brimmed hat
1 lightweight pashmina for cool evenings
1 sweater, fleece or Nano Puff® Jacket for cool evenings
1 long cotton scarf (kanga or kikoy purchased in East Africa are perfect)—adds a decorative touch and can be used to block sun and dust
1 waterproof windbreaker or poncho
1 swimsuit and cover-up
Larger camps & lodges add:
1 pair of slack
2-3 tops for dinner
A pashmina will come in handy for cool evenings
What else should you pack for safari?
Small flashlight with extra batteries
Binoculars for game drives
Journal and pen
Converter and adaptor plugs for electronics