We learn something new on every safari. At this point, we’ve gone for enough game drives and full safaris to have become experts in packing. Here are some tips from what we’ve learned from our experiences.
Hiking boots/shoes or trail running shoes are great. Closed-toe Tevas (or similar) are also good if you’ll be in the vehicle the whole time. But bring along sneakers or hiking boots just in case. If you do any hiking, biking, or walking you’ll want your foot fully protected. Also, some lodges and camps have graveled areas. It’s not fun to constantly wiggle rocks out of your shoe.
It’s all about the layers. It will be cold in the mornings, and game drives start very early. It will also get cold at night. Also, even though things heat up during the day, if you’re in an open vehicle, the wind will chill you. But you also don’t want to roast at midday and on sunny afternoons. Here’s how I layer:
- Tank top or t-shirt
- Long sleeve shirt or long sleeve t-shirt
- Fleece jacket or other light jacket
I layer on and off as needed and it works well. For the bottoms, I’ll wear shorts or long cotton pants. That will depend on my mood and weather predictions.
It’s not a bad idea to bring one pair of jeans for evening. A light sweater for evenings is also helpful. I’d also recommend a light rain jacket or poncho in case of rain.
The key message is that Africa gets colder than you’d expect, especially in Kenya…especially in the Maasai Mara where you’ll be at altitude. It’s hot in the sun, but when the sun is gone, it gets cold!
Color wise, wear colors you’d see in nature. There is a reason why so much safari wear is the in the same gray, tan, and green shades. A bright red top is going to stand out for the animals. Also, bright blue attracts biting flies. You do not want to wear any kind of blue unless it’s pale (almost white) or a very dark navy.
Bring sunglasses. Wraparound styles are best but any will do. It’s not just the sun but also the the dust. You want your eyes protected.
You will also need a hat. A baseball cap will do in a pinch, but a hat with a brim all the way around is better. Your neck and ears need protection from the sun.
If you have long hair, you will want a headband or hair elastics to tie back your hair. The breeze from the open vehicle or open windows will whip your hair into a dusty frenzy. You also don’t want to be that annoying person whose long hair flies into other people’s faces. Everyone hates that person.
I’ve mentioned dust a bit. While, you don’t need to wear a mask at all times, it’s good to have some kind of bandana or something like a Buff Band to wear around your neck. You can pull it up when things get dusty, like if another vehicle passes by or you’re behind a car kicking up a lot of dirt.
Photo & Electronics
People take photos on safari. I’ve seen everything from photos taken by phone to huge camera rigs. Whatever you take, bring along spare batteries with you (along with spare memory cards) in the vehicle. If you’re using your phone, bring along a portable charger.
For those with cameras, it’s worth nothing that you don’t have to buy a super-fantastic zoom lens. There are a lot of places, at least in the US, where you can rent them. The insurance is included in the cost. You rent if for the number of days you’ll have it, and then you give it back. No need to shell out a ton of cash for something you’ll only use once.
If you’re in Kenya or elsewhere in Africa, invest in a decent telephoto/zoom lens. You’ll use it on every game drive or really any trip out to the country. In that case, it’s worth it.
If I go anywhere that’s far from my doctor, I pack antibiotics. I don’t want to have to deal with additional hassle if I’m sick. I definitely pack them when I go on safari. I also take:
- something to make you go (poop)
- something to make you not go (poop)
- allergy medicine
- Anti-Malaria medicine – check with your doctor if where you’re going in a Malaria zone.
There are other tips I can give, but those become specific to the particular reserve you’re visiting or what camp or lodge you’re using. I hope these are helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have specific questions. Also, if you have some tips, please share in the comments!