Packing for an African safari is always a challenge, and Bushtracks often takes last-minute calls from guests seeking help packing their bags, which is understandable. You’ll be away from home over two weeks, traveling in places where it is hard to pop out for extra socks or your favorite brand of sunscreen. And maximum weight limits for luggage can be as light as 33 pounds per person in East Africa, or 41 pounds per person in Southern Africa. Here, one of Bushtracks’ most well-traveled safari-goers, Cynthia Tuthill, shares her secrets for packing everything she needs for her safari into a single carry-on.
We pack everything in a small backpack, rather than use the duffel bags which Bushtracks supplies, which would need to be checked. We love not having to check any baggage!
Wear Your Safari Clothes on the Plane
We wear one set of safari clothes (colored beige, khaki, green, or brown) on the plane. This not only saves packing space, but leads to rather fun conversations (typically starting with “Are you going on safari?”). Here is what I wear:
on one of our trips!)
Pack Fewer Clothes, and Use Laundry Services at Camp
We have found that no matter how long the trip, we only need a few items of clothing since all the camps wash, dry, and press your clothes daily (most camps can get clean clothes back to you even if you are staying for only 2 nights; my packing list allows me sufficient clean clothes to wear when I hand over the ones to wash). Here is what I pack (in addition to what I’m wearing on the plane):
Pack Small Amounts of Toiletries for Carry-On
In order to carry on our luggage, we each have one 1-quart stiff reusable clear plastic bag, with the following liquid items:
First plastic bag, with everyday use items (which I place in the bathroom in each camp):
Second plastic bag, with backup items:
Other Non-Liquid Toiletry Essentials for Camp Are Packed Separately:
My Must-Have Safari Items
or walks, so that I can take notes about what we are experiencing
tsetse bites; DEET does not help so we don’t bring it, as we don’t travel where there are
mosquitoes and DEET can dissolve plastic on cameras and binoculars)
getting in his eyes)
Camera gear is an essential part of your packing list
53. For camera gear we bring one “point-and-shoot” (primarily for landscapes), one SLR with a large lens (we rent a 100 - 400mm Canon), and a small video camera (with a “dead cat” to cover the external microphone, to cut down on any wind noise). We also bring a small tripod for selfies and a monopod for walks and on the safari vehicles; and of course all the memory cards, chargers, cords, and country-specific adaptors for the various cameras.
Cynthia Tuthill ready for her 11th safari
What NOT to Take on Safari
I would never bring: “American” style t-shirts with logos; short shorts; clothing that is dark blue or black (attracts tsetse flies!); bright colored clothes (i.e. non-safari colors) … our guides have told us that not dressing in the typical safari colors can decrease the experience as it can startle animals (and other guests) and isn’t therefore “respectful” of the type of trip we are on.
For more great safari packing tips and information, please email email@example.com or call one of our expert safari planners at: 800-995-8689.