What to pack when going on safari

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Our Travel Experts have put together a packing list for safari. This guide is a good starting point, but we recommend writing out your own check list and adding all your personal items.

There are three things you need to remember when beginning to think about packing for safari;

  • 1) Luggage. We recommend you use a large soft bag for safari, keeping the weight at 20kg (44ibs) or less. If your safari includes a light aircraft flight in Africa, as many do, you cannot use a hard suitcase or one with wheels and a pull handle.
  • 2) The season you will be travelling. Please remember summer months are generally September - April and winter months are May - August. During the winter months it can get cold at night and in the early morning, particularly when on safari. We would suggest that you pack accordingly.
  • 3) Do not to over pack. Remember our lodges tend to offer laundry services which are usually complimentary.

Clothing

  • Man-made fabrics, such as MaraTech and BUGTech shirts
  • Shorts and/or skirts ( very short skirts are not practical for getting in and out of game drive vehicles)
  • Long trousers/slacks
  • Pyjamas ( lightweight for summer and warm for winter )
  • Underwear (a sports bra is recommended for games drives as the roads can be bumpy)
  • Swimming costume if your camp/lodge has a pool
  • Lightweight jersey or fleece in summer
  • Light rain gear or jacket for summer months
  • Warm jersey or fleece in winter
  • Smart-casual outfit for the evenings (if you like to dress for dinner)
  • A hat that provides excellent protection is important on your travels. One that is waterproof, breathable and can be packed flat is suggested
  • For ladies a silk scarf is recommended.

Footwear

  • Hiking/comfortable socks
  • Comfortable footwear is essential. We recommend trainers and sandals if you will mostly be doing game drives and the occasional walk
  • For walking safaris sturdier footwear is required, as such closed walking/ safari boots.

Packing for children on safari

  • Two pairs safari trousers (ones that can 'zip-off' into shorts are best).
  • One pair of shorts
  • Jeans (an option for cooler nights)
  • Two long-sleeve shirts (that dry fast)
  • Two short-sleeved shirts (again, that dry fast)
  • Closed-toe, thick sole sandals
  • One 'dress' outfit (optional)
  • Walking shoes (optional if you will be doing more than game drives)
  • Underwear (we suggest cotton or thermal vests depending on season)
  • Socks
  • Sun hat
  • Swimsuit and goggles (if your camp has a pool)

Essential documents

  • Tickets for flights
  • A passport that is valid for at least 6 months
  • The required visa for the country/countries you are visiting
  • Children's birth certificates if required
  • Foreign currency and credit cards
  • Travel insurance
  • Emergency contact details and phone number
  • Additional form of ID (in case of passport loss)
  • Maps

Must haves

  • Packing cubes ( to keep everything organised)
  • Good quality sunglasses (UV protected and preferably polarized)
  • Camera equipment including spare batteries, chargers, film, flash cards, memory sticks,cards and a cleaning kit for lenses
  • Waterproof/dustproof bags or cover for your camera
  • Good LED Torch (consider spare batteries)
  • Binoculars ( lodges can provide these but it's good to bring your own pair)
  • The correct plug adapter for the country you are travelling to
  • Sunscreen in the warmer months
  • Hair brush and hair ties for longer hair
  • Hand sanitiser

Medication

  • Malaria tablets (if applicable)
  • Basic medical kit: aspirins, plasters, Imodium, antiseptic cream, antihistamine cream or tablets and anti-nausea tablets etc
  • Insect repellent

Extras for adults

  • Small hold-all bag to use on game drive (handy if you wish to take your personal belongings, passport etc, along with you)
  • Money belt
  • A deck of cards for any long hours spent travelling
  • Mini-sewing kit

Extras for children

  • Books or electronics for long journeys (plus chargers and extra batteries)
  • Heahphones for electronics
  • Sharpie (for labelling water bottles)
  • Baby wipes (very useful when on the move)

Remember - Mahlatini customers get 10% OFF at The Safari Store.

We asked safari clothing expert Steve Adams his top tips for what to wear on safari. Read all about it here