Smart packing for your safari

What to wear

Dress code in safari camps is casual and practical, even in the fancy ones. Neutral tones are best (strong colours and white can be more easily seen by animals).

Light cotton is good for hot daytimes, but Africa can be surprisingly cold at night – you’ll feel it on on early morning drives, so pack layers which you can shed as it warms up. A padded jacket is essential. Remember it’s winter in the southern hemisphere from June-August!

Your safari vehicle will likely have blankets and ponchos for any serious weather, and your guide will have bird and mammal guidebooks.

Pack light!

If you’re taking a charter safari flight, you’ll be limited to around 33lb/15kg. And they’re strict about this! So pack as light as you can. Most camps offer a free laundry service.

If you’re not a light packer, then bring a soft bag which you can take on safari, and leave your main luggage at the airport – your tour operator can arrange this.

I’m a great believer in packing light, and this is how I do it;

Small case on wheels: 6 t-shirts in light/neutral colors, plenty of underwear and socks, 2 long sleeved shirts for dinners, 2 pairs shorts, sweatshirt, khaki cotton long pants, jeans, swimsuit, toiletry bag (the kind that hangs on a hook, helpful in small bathrooms), cotton laundry bag.

Small backpack: passport, cap, shades, sunscreen, small binoculars (Leica 10×25 Trinovid are handy), flipflops, small flashlight (the one that you wear on your head), light scarf, wet wipes.

Don’t forget:

  • Binoculars –good compact ones are easier to carry
  • Camera with a lens – most cellphones take lousy pics of wildlife
  • Small wipe-on insect repellant
  • Pen for filling in forms at customs
  • Notebook
  • Kindle or a good book for during the day
  • Cellphone charger
  • Cash for tips – dollars are well received almost everywhere