What to Pack for a Safari in Africa

Relax - the wildlife won't judge your outfit

So, you’ve confirmed your lodges, activities, transport and flights. Now comes the tricky bit – what to pack for a safari in Africa.   

Even the most seasoned travelers fret about this, and that’s why we’ve prepared this handy guide. While it may answer some of your basic questions, it’s important to let our team know if you have specific concerns.  

Luggage

The most important thing to remember when packing for a safari in Africa is luggage restrictions. Due to limited space, smaller bush flights can only take soft-sided bags (including ones with wheels). They also have a much lower weight allowance than international airlines. Some stipulate as low as 10kg per person, but 15-20kg is generally the standard and should give you enough packing room for a 15-day trip. For total peace of mind, this is something we will flag on your itinerary. 

A practical zip-up day pack (20–30L) is ideal for extra bits and pieces – passport, hat, water, sunglasses, jacket, that sort of thing. Just remember that hand luggage is often included in your overall weight allowance.  

ATC packing tip: Some of our favorite bags to pack for a safari in Africa include the Patagonia Black Hole 70L and the Eddie Bauer Traverse 27 Rolling Duffel

Patagonia Black Hole

Clothing

The time of year you travel plays a significant factor in what to pack, so it’s important to understand what to expect. Generally, we recommend lightweight clothing that can be layered . Pack a variety of comfortable T-shirts, long-sleeve tops, pants,  shorts, and you’ll be well-prepared for most eventualities. Since bright and bold colors pique the attention of wildlife, muted colors like gray, brown, khaki, cream, and green are far more suitable for blending into the bush. Don’t discount a swimsuit for the pool or a warm jacket – you’ll need it while hurtling through the bush before sunrise or up in a balloon above the Serengeti.

 If you’re within your luggage weight restriction, you may want to include something a little nicer to spruce up for dinner.  

ATC packing tip: Most lodges have laundry services with quick turnaround times, so you can get away with reducing duplicate items. We also always pack a kikoy (lightweight scarf) due to its versatility – you can use it as extra cover for warmth or sun protection.

Footwear

You generally don’t need fancy walking boots for a safari. A sturdy pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers with a good grip will suffice. If you’d prefer walking boots, ensure they are worn in. For your time back at the lodge, we’d suggest bringing one pair of relaxed (preferably non-slippery) shoes such as flip flops, sandals, or Crocs. 

 ATC packing trip: Most camps will wash and dry your shoes for you overnight, so you only need to bring one pair of each.  

Toiletries

Do pack a small toiletry bag with personal necessities and medication. Side note: There is always a first aid kit on-site and more than enough insect repellent. Most camps and lodges will supply the basics such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion.  Depending on where you stay, hairdryers, slippers and bathrobes are added perks.  

ATC packing tip: If you suffer from indigestion, Pepto-Bismol and antacids come highly recommended, as you’ll be eating more than you would at home and bouncing around on the 4×4 driving action-packed game drives. 

Electronics

While there’s certainly no pressure to bring a camera if you prefer to use your phone, they are great for capturing awe-inspiring c moments. Spare batteries and memory cards are a must.  A portable power bank is also essentail to keep your electronics charged when you’re on a game drive or in between camps. All camps have facilities to charge your phone, tablet, or Kindle (USB ports), but it does help to have a multi-way adaptor. Not all destinations in Africa use the same plug points.  

 ATC packing trip: Don’t discount waterproof casings for gadgets – be it unexpected rain, or even basking in the spray of Mosi-oa-Tunya (Vic Falls) 

No need for frantic overpacking! Here’s a general list of items to bring from home on safari:  

  • Day pack 
  • Passport & travel docs 
  • Pen & notebook 
  • Reusable water bottle 
  • Brimmed hat 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Electronics (phone, camera, charger) 
  • Travel adapter 
  • Extra power pack
  • Binoculars 
  • Headlamp 
  • Basic personal toiletries 
  • Earplugs – the sounds of the African nights are great, but sometimes turn it down a bit.
  • Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers 
  • Sandals 
  • Swimsuit 
  • Waterproof windbreaker 
  • Fleece jacket or Nano Puff 
  • Loungewear/pajamas 
  • Undergarments (sports bras recommended for game drives) 
  • Lightweight pants 
  • Socks 
  • Shorts 
  • Long and short sleeve shirts 
  • Kikoy or lightweight scarf/buff 
  • Luggage lock for your international flights
  • Apple Air Tag or similar. In case your luggaes decides to stay in Amsterdam. 

*Kenya and Rwanda are polythene-free countries, but reusable Ziplock bags are fine to use for packing  

*Most camps’ electrical systems cannot handle portable hairdryers and electric shavers. Please leave these at home 

So, there you have it, a general guide on what to pack for a safari in Africa. If you have any questions about what you’ll need on the road, please get in touch here. 

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