Packing for an African safari? Here's all you need to know
Far & Wild's handy guide to help you pack for an African safari holiday
Operations & Marketing Development
07 May 2021
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Whether you’re heading on holiday for a once in a lifetime safari in Africa, a city and cultural break or for some beach serenity (or a combination of all of the above) there’s always the temptation to overpack and take much more than you’ll actually need. If you are doing a multi-destination holiday such as a safari followed by a few days exploring a city or relaxing on the beach – try to pack mindfully so that items are useful for more than one purpose or occasion.
Our helpful packing list guide will help you on your way and leave the kitchen sink firmly at home.
Weight limits: Check your routes – International airlines have varying weight limits with some having a much greater allowance that others so it’s definitely worth checking their website for the most up to date baggage weight restrictions. If you do go over these weights, the airline may decide to charge you extra when you check in or drop your bags.
If you are taking internal flights in small, light aircraft, remember to check the total baggage weight limit (often between 15-20kg per person), so try and keep your packing to a minimum if taking this kind of flight. Read about what it's like to fly in bush planes here. There is no need to pack too much of everything as the vast majority of safari lodges and camps will offer a laundry service.
Another way to save a little weight and space in your luggage is to wear your heaviest and bulky items when you travel such as walking shoes or hiking boots.
Temperature: Africa is generally a very warm continent but can be very seasonally dependant. At times of the year it can get cold at especially at night, so don't forget to pack some warm clothing too.
Baggage: Soft bags such as duffel bags are preferable to suitcases, especially if you're flying on smaller aircraft between safari camps as it will pack more easily. Please make sure your checked bags are within preferred dimensions. Some airports are placing restrictions on this due to oversized bags are too large for airport conveyor belts and will not be accepted on the flight. Or you may be expected to pay an extra charge for oversized bags.
Hand luggage: Always pack some essentials like underwear, toothbrush etc in your hand luggage, in the rare event that your checked baggage is lost or delayed.
It’s always better to carry items such as laptops, tablets, cameras (and lenses) and binoculars in your hand luggage as air carriers will often not accept responsibility for items that go missing or are damaged if you pack them in to your checked baggage.
Currency. Make sure to take some local currency but also USD$ are widely accepted for tipping and gratuities. If you’re taking your own bank credit or debit card, it’s a good idea to let them know beforehand so they won’t automatically flag and block your card, potentially leaving you in a tricky situation. Also check to see if you will incur any charges whilst spending abroad. If so, it might be worth looking at getting a Travel Credit/Debit card which could save you money on hidden bank charges.
Travel documents and emergency phone numbers.
Your Far and Wild Itinerary.
Passport and applicable visas.
Copy of your passport (kept separately from your actual passport) - it's also a good idea to scan and email a copy to yourself so you have a copy online should you need it.
Travel Insurance Policy – make sure that you’re covered for activities during your holiday as well as the more standard inclusions. If you haven’t already arranged travel insurance. We’ve partnered with Campbell-Irvine who are experts at providing bespoke cover for safari holidays.
Vaccination certificates if applicable (e.g. a Yellow Fever Certificate if you're travelling from a country with a history of Yellow Fever)
If travelling with children under certain ages, some African countries will require you to take their birth certificate with you. Please speak to your Far & Wild consultant to get the most up-to-date information if you are affected.
Sun block, after sun
Any personal medication you require; painkillers etc…
Contact lenses and solution
Malaria tablets (if applicable and advised by your doctor)
Washbag with personal toiletries, hygiene products and accessories (hair ties etc)
Hand sanitiser – most accommodation and travel providers will have this readily available but it’s always good to carry your own.
Travel first aid kit (including blister plasters) – these don’t have to be large or too comprehensive but it’s handy to carry a few of the essentials with you.
Weatherproof bag to protect camera if travelling during the rainy season
Mobile phone and charger
Appropriate power/plug adaptors – Top tip - why not take a mini extension lead. Then you only need one adapter and can plug everything else in.
Playing cards, book/Kindle
Guide books – wildlife or cultural
Lightweight travel towel
Refillable water bottle – why? It may help reduce the use and waste of plastic bottles whilst you’re on holiday.
Combination lock for your luggage.
What to take on safari
There’s a whole host of different types of safari holiday, whether you’re going for to Botswana for a luxury safari, Zimbabwe or Zambia for walking safaris or to Rwanda to trek for mountain gorillas, there’s so many variations it can be hard to decide what and what not to take but here are some of what we know are the essential clothing items you’ll need. Generally layering of clothing works best if you’re going someplace where temperatures can drop and also check when the dry, green and rainy seasons are likely to occur as this can play a big part in your packing choices.
Sun hat, sunglasses, prescription glasses/contact lenses.
Clothing in neutral colours if possible (avoid bright colours for better wildlife viewing, especially if you're doing a walking safari, and avoid dark colours (which can attract the flies).
Lightweight jacket/fleece for cooler mornings and evenings.
Lightweight rain jacket if travelling during rainy season - also useful for cooler mornings and evenings.
Comfortable short and long-sleeved shirts, t-shirts and tops.
Shorts and long trousers. Zip-off trousers are a great option to keep weight and space minimised.
Swimwear/beachwear – if your safari property has a pool.
Flip flops – useful for showers or by the pool depending on where you’re going on safari.
Comfortable walking shoes or boots depending on the terrain you’ll be walking and hiking through. Top Tip – make sure these are broken in as uncomfortable footwear can become painful.
Comfortable lightweight pyjamas – some nights in African be cool.
Comfortable dress or shirt for the evening meals. These don’t have to be too smart but sometimes people like to make an effort for meals or meeting new-found friends around a welcoming bar. Some properties do have a dress code for dining, so it is worth checking.
A note on plastic bags
It’s preferable not to take any with you. In the African continent there are currently 34 countries with many more countries following suit - putting stringent regulations in place to ban plastic bags so it’s certainly worth checking with a country’s specific travel advice page so you can avoid any awkward situations when arriving at your destination.
By this we don’t mean that the majority of belongings you pack need to be green in colour – we mean pack responsibly and sustainably.
Pack responsibly - Even making small adjustments to how much you take can have an impact on the environment. The more you pack, the heavier your luggage and the more fuel it takes to get you to places.
Pack sustainably - Be mindful of what disposable items you take with you. For example: a plastic toothbrush – your home country might have better plastic recycling facilities in place than at your destination. If you throw your plastic toothbrush away in another country, it can be much more of an environmental problem to dispose of correctly. There are so many greener and sustainably minded alternatives to those that appear easy.
Pack For A Purpose – This wonderful organisation work with others around the world to benefit local people by those who travel. Their mission is to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travellers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit.
If you would like to learn more about how to make your holiday more sustainable – we’re in the know and have jargon-busting, easy to follow info on how you can make a difference when you travel sustainably – Read more