An African safari is the pinnacle of adventure. You may have seen a few wildlife docs in your time, but nothing can prepare you for the real thing – the glorious sun emerging over folding plains, illuminating some of the world's most impressive wildlife.
Fortunately, when it comes to packing, we can prepare you for the real thing.
To khaki or not to khaki? Presumably you’ve imagined yourself doing an African safari in full 19th century explorer outfit, complete with khaki shorts, moustache and brimmed hat. Unfortunately for your romantic side, this will probably make you stand out rather than disguise you.
Full khaki isn’t really necessary on a modern safari, but it’s probably a decent idea to avoid fluorescent orange. Clothing-wise, the most important thing is that you pack for varying temperatures. If you’re camping, temperatures can go from swelteringly hot during the day to freezing cold at night. The key is lightweight, skin-covering clothes that you can layer or remove as necessary.
Here are the clothing essentials:
- Lightweight, long sleeve t-shirts
These will keep mozzies at bay and are perfect for layering at night.
- Lightweight cotton cargo trousers
- Lightweight cotton cargo shorts
- Pair of thermals.
Decent, insulated top and bottoms will be a life saver if you’re camping.
- Packable rain jacket.
Something light, easy to pack but with quality insulation. You don’t want to be caught under Kenyan rain without something waterproof.
- Comfortable underwear
Can you really overpack underwear?
- Something a bit smarter
You may not want to be in your baggy, dirty safari outfit when you sit down at night for dinner. Bring a nice shirt or dress.
You’ll be happy to know that the classic safari hat isn’t just a gimmick. It’s an important accessory for protecting your face from the relentless African sun, whilst shielding your eyes so you can get a good view of the wildlife. A baseball hat will be fine, but opt for a good wide-brimmed hat with a strap to ensure the wind doesn’t claim it.
You probably picture yourself walking cracked plains in your heftiest hiking boots, but these are heavy and will take up a lot of space. Something lightweight will do much better, such as a pair of waterproof, lightweight trail runners. In this heat you’ll want something as breathable as possible.
Don’t be without these essentials:
- Insect repellent
Skin-covering clothing is important, but If you go on an African safari without insect repellent you’ll likely be massacred. You’ll want to bring an insect repellent with you, with a high DEET count (at least 95%). These products don’t smell pleasant, but are vital in keeping the insects at bay. One application should last around eight hours.
Factor 50 is a good idea – you don’t want to come home looking like a flamingo.
- First aid kit
When you’re getting this intimate with adventure, health and safety should be a high concern. For starters, you’ll want some antidiarrheals, malaria tablets, hand sanitiser, anti bacterial cream and bandages or plasters.
It’s not really necessary or wise to bring a heap of gadgets with you on your safari. Most camps won’t have WiFi or electricity, and conditions won’t generally be conducive for keeping your expensive electronics in good shape.
However, there are a few things that might be a lot of help. We recommend:
- A camera
While your memories will be precious, it’s always good to bring a decent camera with you, to preserve the wonders you’ve seen (and to show off when you get home).
- An e-reader or tablet
Neither are essential but a Kindle is always a good idea whenever you need some downtime. Lighter than a book but with almost bottomless storage – why not read through Isak Dinesen’s mesmerising book, Out of Africa? A tablet is handy whenever you get an internet connection and want to learn more about the local area or plan your post-safari routes.
- Battery packs
It’s a good idea to have a portable power bank to give you some juice on the road, allowing you to charge up your phone or camera when you don’t have access to electricity.
It’d be nice if the animals posed for close-ups, but sometimes you’ll need a bit of assistance to see them in all of their glory.
It’s essential to have a light source when in a pinch, and I’d recommend a sturdy flashlight or headlamp with a reliable, lengthy power source.
During the day
Packing your daypack is a vital part of your safari trip. This is where you put all of the essentials that you should never be without. Choose a comfy bag with padded straps, and fill it with:
- Insect repellent
- Sun cream
- Lots of water
- Lightweight top for layering
Looking for the ultimate adventure? You’re now perfectly prepared for our awe-inspiring East Africa safari trip.