Packing for your African safari is a tricky business as you balance between being well-prepared for a two-week plus adventure in variable temperatures and staying within baggage weight restrictions. To help, our expert safari planners share packing tips: from must-have items to what you should leave at home.
All Bushtracks guests are supplied with a detailed packing list and a complimentary soft-sided wheelie duffel. But after a trial-run packing your duffel (which we strongly recommend doing in advance of your trip), you may find that your bags weigh more than the 33 to 41 pound weight limits for your itinerary. To help you with some tough decisions, our team recommends the following.
Must-Have Clothing Items
1. A beige button up shirt with sun protection and roll-up sleeves like Columbia's Silver Ridge long sleeve shirt, available for men and women. “Honestly, I’d say pack two, it’ll be the thing you wear the most,” says Shelly. “And avoid white shirts,” adds Sam, “A bright white to animals is like waving a red flag. In nature it’s a warning color, not something you want to wear when you’re trying to quietly observe wildlife.”
2. Roll-up or convertible lightweight pants. Kuhl is an office-wide favorite (even when not on safari) and you can’t go wrong with their Splash Roll Up pants for women which convert to capris, or for men, the Renegade Cargo Convertible. “The low side pockets are perfect for stashing camera lens caps while you’re out in the vehicle,” notes Daniela.
3. A brimmed hat with a chin strap like a classic Tilley hat – “You’ll want a chin strap to keep it from flying off when you’re in an open vehicle, and a brim to keep from burning the back of your neck,” says Gayle. Also – keep this item in your carry-on, so you are safari-ready and sun-protected when you step off the plane.
4. “I always bring Teva sandals with me,” adds Lyn. “They’re extremely versatile to slip on in your tent, for strolling in camp, and you can add socks if it gets cold.”
5. A few minimal accessories will come in handy for evenings or any city layovers. Women should consider packing a scarf, like this one from TravelSmith, a wrap, or a lightweight pair of ballet flats.
1. A small flashlight or headlamp for finding the bathroom at night
2. A good travel adapter so that you can keep all your devices charged
3. Anti-bacterial handwipes in your carry-on and checked baggage, as well as a small packet of tissues
4. Packing cubes to organize your duffel
5. A cooling towel may be helpful during the summer months (October to April)
But Leave These Things At Home!
1. Hair dryer. Your camp will supply one if there is power to operate it. Many remote camps operate with solar and battery power which can't support a hair dryer, so save the space in your bag, and rely on your sun hat.
2. Jewelry that you don’t wear all the time. If you leave your heirloom necklace on your nightstand when you leave camp, you may be two countries away by the time you realize it’s missing. Bring minimal jewelry, and pick up a brightly colored beaded bracelet in the camp gift shop if you want to accessorize.
3. Regular purse or handbag. Don’t add the weight of a leather handbag to your luggage weight, but instead buy a small cross-body travel bag that can fit inside a backpack or camera bag.
4. Hiking boots. Since most of your walking is on the paths that go from your room to the dining area, you’ll be just fine with a pair of running shoes for even a walking safari, but go with trail running shoes if you want something a little sturdier. If your plans include gorilla or chimp trekking, however, you will want lightweight trekkers like Merrell's Moab hiking shoes.