How to Pack for Your First African Safari

So you’ve decided to finally buy that ticket to Africa and journey forth on an African safari! Before you start packing your suitcase and throwing in everything you think you might need, there are a few things to consider.

Packing for an African safari is  different to any other adventure holiday. You need to take into account where in Africa you will be, the time of year, travelling far lighter than usual and your wardrobe colour scheme.

Here are our top tips for packing the essentials to get the most out of your African adventure!

What to Wear on Safari

Packing light for your African safari is essential.  You will be flying between camps on light air craft with little cargo space. As a rule of thumb, always assume you will have a limit of 15kg per person – including your camera equipment and carry-on bag.

Most camps will provide a free laundry service so you don’t have to worry about having to pack clothes for the full length of your trip.

Pick out neutral tones for your safari. Whilst this doesn’t mean rushing out to kit yourself in head-to-toe khaki, light colours will help you blend into your surroundings as much as possible. Bright colours, dark blues and blacks will signal to the animals where you are and irritating bugs like tsetse flies will be more attracted to you than usual.

Once you have your colour palette sorted, the next thing to remember is Africa’s varying temperatures. As most game drives occur right after sunrise and right before sunset, the two coldest times of the day, it is essential to wear layers. Lightweight, durable, quick-drying garments are best.

Add a few accessories like a hat to combat the midday sun, a pair of sunglasses, hiking boots (or light-weight walking shoes) and don’t forget your  binoculars.

Packing Essentials for Specific African Safari Locations

Depending on when and where you are travelling in Africa, your safari packing list will change accordingly.

During the hot season (October – February), remember to pack MosiGuard to repel tsetse flies. May to August are the continent’s winter months and the weather can be icy cold at certain times and in certain areas. Pack warm clothes and layer up to avoid shivering away during your early morning game drives.

If you are planning to visit Botswana during their rainy season (November – February) pack a rain poncho and a waterproof bag for all your electronics. Trekking in The Congo, Rwanda and Uganda requires silica gel packs to protect your devices from the high humidity. Furthermore, if you are going on a walking safari in Zambia, wear a pair of gaiters to avoid bringing ticks back to camp.

Camera Equipment

No safari would be complete without taking photos. From your basic point-and-shoot cameras to your high-end DSLRs, being able to capture your African journey is all part of the fun. Our African Travel Specialists recommend a camera with a good telescopic lens. It doesn’t have to be expensive, there are many cameras out there with great zooming capabilities! Whatever your level of photographic ability, it is important to remember at least one spare battery and a couple of memory cards. This way, you won’t run out of space and consequently ruin your safari by being under-prepared. Other photographic accessories to consider are lens wipes, an air blower, lens hood, and country-specific adapters.

Often overlooked when packing are a good pair of binoculars. An absolute essential, a good pair allows you to see animals and, particularly, birds that can be at quite a distance. They will also allow you to see the full detail of the animal or bird, which is often harder to see with the naked eye. Whilst cameras will provide you with memories, binoculars allow you to experience to moment fully.


Most safari lodges will have a basic first aid kit.  However, here are a few essential toiletries that will make your adventure a little more comfortable:

  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunblock and after-sun
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Band-aids
  • Cortisone cream for itchy bites
  • Spare contact lenses
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Medication such as paracetamol, malaria tablets, travellers’ diarrhoea medication

Last, but not least, remember to pack your sense of adventure! Let Africa sweep you along on an exciting journey of discovery.

References:  Thank you Travel and LeisureBush Tracks and Wendy Perrin

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