What to pack for safari

Here is a suggested packing list for your safari. In addition to your usual holiday basics (we have not listed clean underwear) you might consider:

  • Neutral coloured clothes – ideally khaki, light brown/ green, tan – including shorts and short sleeved tops. Avoid bright colours and white, particularly for walking, to minimise your visibility to animals. Also avoid black and very dark colours as they attract tsetse flies and other nasty bugs. Avoid camouflage unless you want to be taken for a rhino poacher or a member of the military. Cotton is a great fabric for its breathable properties, allowing the breeze to circulate
  • Cargo pants/ trousers are very useful with lots of pockets to stash your stuff on drives and walks
  • Hat – ideally providing shade to upper face and neck (e.g., wide-brimmed hat)
  • Lightweight rainproof windbreaker/ light jacket
  • Comfortable hiking/walking boots (not white) – should have ankle support
  • Spare laces
  • Long, thick socks (at least above ankle length, for walking)
  • Small plasters if you think you might be in for blisters
  • Flip flops (to air your feet)
  • Sunglasses – make sure they have polarised lenses
  • Sunblock and after-sun lotion; lip balm (if you use it)
  • Water bottle
  • Swimming costume
  • Camera and film/ media; lens cleaner. Tripod or bean bag (if you have either)
  • Binoculars (if you have them)
  • Penknife (if you have; not to be kept in cabin luggage)
  • Small day rucsac
  • Handkerchief in case dust gets up your nose
  • Lightweight loose fitting clothes to cover up against mosquitos – avoid dark colours. Denim is not good as it takes forever to dry
  • One fleece or similar – avoid dark colours
  • Pyjamas
  • Insect repellent/ mosquito coils (do not use coils in a tent)
  • Small torch (in the UK, Boots the Chemist have good halogen ones that double as mini-lanterns at the airport for a fiver; ASDA do wind-up ones for £2)
  • Malaria tablets (very important; check with your health care professional before you travel)
  • Zambia and Tanzania (including Zanzibar) require a yellow fever innoculation and certificate in advance of arrival; South Africa will too if you return via these countries. You will be screened for fever at the Airport This requirement was changed in January 2015. Check that it has not been changed back before you travel!
  • So ALWAYS check with your health care professional for advice before you depart
  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste/ dental floss/ toothpicks
  • Sanitary requirements, birth control
  • 2-in-1 shampoo/ conditioner
  • Some wet wipes or dry wash are useful for mornings when you do not have time to wash
  • A few resealable plastic bags are useful to stop things leaking and dust getting where it shouldn’t
  • Contact lens solution & extra set of disposable lenses (if required)
  • Prescribed medicine (enough to last your trip) – keep packed in your hand luggage in case of baggage delays
  • Painkillers (e.g., ibuprofen, aspirin); re-hydration salts (available in local pharmacies in towns as Rehydrat); anti-histamine/ allergy treatment (as required)
  • Motion sickness tablets if you are travelling on small planes and prone
  • Whistle (if you have one – the small sort sold in outdoors shops)
  • A few midnight snacks (e.g., chocolate). Sweets
  • Three round prong power adapter (South African is Type M – three round pins). European sockets are also common but don’t rely on them
  • Spare batteries/ charger for camera, torch, ..
  • Passport (with more than six month’s validity and at least two blank pages) – keep a photocopy of the photo and opposing page separately
  • Valid Visa (if not issued with a Visitor’s Permit on arrival – check the latest situation online (link)
  • Travel vouchers
  • Travel insurance paperwork
  • Driving License plus separate photocopy
  • Copies of any prescriptions
  • Matches/ lighter
  • Pen/ pencil and notebook
  • Book to read between game viewing and other leisure time
  • Emergency numbers
  • Any fieldguides or guidebooks you have
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary and emergency contact details (including ours) with friends or family
Patience at the Interconti kindly modelling our pith helmet
Patience at the Interconti kindly modelling our pith helmet

If you are going to be travelling in a small charter aircraft then you are going to be limited to 20kg in baggage. Carry-on is limited to 7kg which includes your camera and video kit etc, so take the bare minimum. Use a duffel or soft-sided bag that is no more than 25cm (10 inches) wide x 30cm (12 inches) high and 62cm (24 inches) long to fit through the hold door. Wear bulky items including your walking boots and get your camera around your neck.

The charter companies struggle with people trying to abuse this required operational and safety limit; be warned that you will need to comply or book an extra seat for your kitchen sink. The charter companies that we use offer lock-up facilities at their departure facilities so that you can safely decant and deposit excess stuff for the period of your safari.