Safari Packing List – What To Pack For Your African Safari Tour

January 21, 2020
Tanzania Safari Guide

The first thing to say is that everyone always takes too much so try to be different; most of the smaller camps have excellent and often complimentary laundry services, which are able to return clothes the same day (weather dependant). Very few camps require anything too smart and as a rule layers is the name of the game.

For game drives you’ll find that shorts and a long sleeved shirt will be perfect (long sleeved so you have the option of rolling up or down). In many parks it gets quite cold in the mornings and evenings so you will need a light jersey and warm (probably sleeveless) fleece at these times. A light rain jacket (easily stuffed in the bottom of your bag) could just save the day if you’re traveling in the green season.

For walks we usually wear shorts and a long sleeved shirt, though some people prefer to walk in long trousers to keep grass seeds and ticks at bay. A good compromise is those trousers that zip apart at the knee to become shorts. Unless you’re climbing mountains you won’t need heavy-duty boots; the most important thing is that they are comfortable and well broken in. Lightweight Gore-Tex boots or something similar with a bit of ankle support work well. Light & comfortable slip on shoes are also useful in and around camp.

Colours; khakis and natural colours are probably best, but people can get carried away here. The most important thing is not to wear bright colours on safari in Africa.

Make sure you take hats, ideally wide brim and tight (with a tie as a last resort) so you don’t lose them from cars or boats, and plenty of sunscreen/block. If you have even remotely sensitive eyes, after a few days of glare and dust you will almost certainly be thankful for eye drops or eyewash of some sort. Game driving vehicles are either totally open or have large open roof hatches so you are often in direct sunlight. As it’s often quite a pleasant temperature or even fairly cool in the mornings you can easily forget how strong the sun is.

Take swimming/beach things for anywhere on the coast as well as areas like Mahale (or any of the camps with swimming pools). Kikois & kangas have a multitude of uses as sarongs, scarves or whatever so worth snapping up a few at the earliest opportunity. If you’ve got long journeys or waits, it’s an ideal time to listen to music – we’d highly recommend bringing an iPod for these moments. Likewise consider a small travel set of chess or backgammon – to be whipped onto the vehicle bonnet as you wait for your plane to arrive on some far-flung bush strip.

This list below is purely a guideline, and will depend on the duration/length of the safari as well as month/season traveling. Additional warmer clothing may be required during June/July/August:

  • 1-2 pairs of smart/casual trousers
  • 3-4 pairs of shorts
  • 7 Shirts/T-shirts (any combination)
  • 1 light cotton dress/sarong for the ladies 1 jersey for the evenings (April to August)
  • 1 tracksuit (April to August)
  • 1 windbreaker rain jacket (December to March)
  • 1 warm jacket (May to September: winter nights can be very cold!)
  • 1 pair of walking/running shoes
  • 1 pair of sandals/thongs/rafting or canoeing shoes
  • Underwear and socks
  • 1 swimming costume
  • 1 sun hat
  • 1 towel

In Zanzibar as a form of respect to local customs and Islamic religion, ladies are requested to dress discreetly by covering their knees and shoulders while visiting Zanzibar towns and local villages. Strappy dresses and G-string costumes are not allowed.

Binoculars, photographic, and video

Binoculars: We think these are the single most important element of your packing. We would recommend bringing the best pair you could afford and (most definitely) try to take a pair each. If you are buying binoculars, try lots of different pairs, don’t be tempted to buy anything too small and avoid gadgets like zooms. Roof prism binoculars with internal mechanisms (Leica 8 x 32 my personal choice) are likely to give you the best quality.

Photography and Video: Bring lots of extra camera memory – you will undoubtedly use it. If you’re still that way inclined, bring plenty of film – best not to assume that you can buy it out there although the reality is its probably available in any decent sized town or major lodge, albeit expensively. 100 – 200 asa is perfect for most places but pack a couple of faster films for use in any thickly forested areas. The ideal all round lens for a trip such, as this is probably a 28 – 300 mm zoom. A small beanbag is often very useful to rest the camera on to stop camera shake. If you bring the bag with you beans can be supplied locally. If you can’t find a bag an old sock would work was well.

If you need video batteries charging, this can be done at most camps. You will need a UK type 3 pin plug and electricity is generally 220 V AC. Give your charger and batteries to the camp manager or your guide and they will organize charging for you. Bring plenty of spare batteries so some can be left charging during the day whilst you’re out and about – the peace and quiet of smaller camps can be shattered by having to run generators into the evening solely to recharge peoples camera batteries. If you can find a 12V charger for use with a vehicle cigarette lighter, bring that too as a back up.

Baggage: Baggage allowances on light aircraft is 15kg (32lbs) per person, this must be packed in soft bags, not hard suitcases. It is often helpful to have two or more small bags rather than one large one – and an easy way to make bush pilots happy. We recommend that you utilize old or inexpensive luggage. You may use a small/medium-sized rucksack, provided that it has no frame.
Also remember the following:

  1. 1 liter water bottle (essential)
  2. 1 torch + batteries (essential)
  3. 1 roll toilet paper
  4. Bath soap, toothbrush/toothpaste
  5. Shampoo & hair conditioner
  6. Deodorant
  7. Comb/hair brush, nail brush
  8. Razor & blades (preferable battery operated shaver)
  9. Suntan lotion/Sun block
  10. Lip balm
  11. Hand cream & moisturizing cream
  12. Insect repellent
  13. Tissues or disposable moist tissues (e.g. Wet Ones)
  14. Washing powder, plug for sink
  15. Washing line (length of cord) pegs
  16. Plastic bag (to pack wet/dirty clothing)
  17. Sunglasses
  18. Spectacles (if worn) – some people have trouble with contact lenses & dust
  19. Pen for immigration formalities
  20. 1 notebook
  21. Multi-purpose knife (e.g. Swiss Army knife

NB: small sports/kit bag for excursions as mentioned under “Luggage”

Personal medial kit

We suggest that you take along the following:

  • Plasters
  • Aspirins/paracetamol
  • Anti-diarrhea pills and laxatives (consult your pharmacist for advice)
  • Throat lozenges
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Insect bite cream
  • Eye drops
  • Anti-malaria tablets (refer MALARIA section)
  • Any other medicines & toiletries you regularly use
  • Energy bar drink for canoeing safari
  • Rehydrate powder/sachets.