south africa

Pack Like a Pro with this  Ultimate Africa Safari Packing List in 2023

The Ultimate Packing List for Your Southern, Middle and East-Africa Safari

Safari to Africa is going to be the best experience of your life. But, you’ll want to minimize surprises by taking the right equipment and clothing with you. Be prepared for hot sunny days and cool nights, as well as unexpected situations. Are you ready to go on safari?

The safari is the thrill of a lifetime. Get ready for hot days in the sun and cold nights. You must be prepared for anything. What should you pack?

You will need to be adaptable because your safari is going to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Your days will be hot and your nights cool, so you’ll need the right clothes. The people you meet will be unlike any others – and might become good friends

Packing for a Southern African safari is somewhat different to most other trips you’ll take. Navigating rural roads in an open-top jeep means that you’ll get covered in dust, so you’ll need clothes that hide dirt well. Because temperatures can change dramatically throughout the day, layers are essential (after all, pre-dawn game drives are often chilly even in the height of summer). If your itinerary includes flights in a bush plane between different parks or camps, you’ll need to pack extra light to comply with charter flight baggage restrictions.

In this article, we provide a comprehensive packing list that should cover most 2-20 day safaris (while still leaving room in your suitcase for a few curios).

  • Camera, lenses and other photography equipment
  • Binoculars and wildlife guides
  • Clothing in neutral colours
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-malaria medication and first-aid kit
  • Repellent
  • Toiletries
  • Cash, credit card and traveller’s checks

Takeaway: You need to pack a lot of things for a wildlife safari in Africa, but if you buy all the items ahead of time you can just spend your vacation enjoying it!

 Your equipment and clothing help you see, blend in with the animals, protect you from the sun, and keep insects at bay.

You will need to be adaptable because your safari is going to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Your days will be hot and your nights cool, so you’ll need the right clothes. The people you meet will be unlike any others – and might become good friends

 Camera, lenses and other photography equipmentThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lens-g551a3f0f4_1280-1024x425.jpg

The most important tool for eCommerce product photography is, of course, your camera. While it’s possible to use a smartphone camera, the quality just isn’t there yet. A DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera with interchangeable lenses is much better if you’re looking to take your own product photos.

If you already have a DSLR, great! If not, there are plenty of solid options on the market without breaking the bank. The key is to choose a DSLR with at least 10 megapixels and an image sensor that is at least half the size of a frame of 35mm film. Most entry-level cameras fit that description.

Why? Because the larger the sensor, the better your images will be. Your product photos need to be sharp and high resolution so they can be enlarged and cropped later if needed. Bigger sensor size also means better low-light performance, which can be useful when shooting products in the studio or around your home or office. Larger sensors also let in more light, which increases image quality and sharpness while reducing noise (that grainy effect you get when a photo looks pixelated).

The Nikon D5600 has 24.2 megapixels and an AP

Binoculars and wildlife guides

So, you’ve decided to explore the great outdoors. Good for you! If you’re going to be out in the wild and want to spot some wildlife, you need to have a comfortable pair of binoculars and a good guidebook. Here are some of our top recommendations for both:

Binoculars

This is not just a guide to buying binoculars. It’s also a guide to using them, with tips on what to look for and how to make the most of your wildlife viewing.

Binoculars let you see things that are far away as though they were close up. The magnification is described by two numbers: 8×32, 10×42 and so on. The first number is the magnification; the second is the diameter of the objective lens in millimetres.

The larger this lens, the brighter the image will be, but also the heavier and more expensive the binoculars will be. The minimum size for most is 42mm, although there are some exceptional models with 32mm lenses that perform almost as well. The maximum magnification should not exceed 12x; anything higher than this starts to become shaky and hard to hold steady.

For birdwatching, 8x or 10x magnification is fine; for watching other animals such as deer or otters, you may want a little more power (10x or 12x).

Vortex Diamondback 8×42 – Perfect for all-around use, this model is waterproof and fog proof, meaning it’ll work no matter what kind of weather you encounter. The rubber armour also adds durability and protection.

Nikon Monarch 7 8×42 – This model features an improved optical system that offers better light transmission and a brighter view. It also comes with a 25-year warranty.

Leica Ultravid BR 8×42 – These are perfect if you’re on a budget but still want excellent quality binoculars. They offer superior brightness, clarity and detail thanks to their HD lenses.

Wildlife Guides

National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America – Whether you’re an experienced birder or just getting started, this full-colour guide will help you identify birds across North America. There are over 850 species covered with information on size, colour, habitat, behaviour and

Clothing in neutral colours

I have a safari trip planned for January. What sort of clothing should I pack?

You’re going to need clothing in neutral colours — khaki, beige and olive green are good choices. Bright colours can frighten the wildlife, so you want to blend in as much as possible. You’ll want to pack lightweight, quick-drying clothing, along with a lot of insect repellent.

Bring along neutral colours for an outdoor safari. Nothing attracts mosquitoes more than bright colours, like neon orange and bright red. To avoid irritating bites, opt for browns, khakis, and whites. You should also avoid any clothing that has a distinctive scent.

Lightweight clothing is another must-have item for your camping gear. Stay away from heavy cotton t-shirts and jeans, as the excess moisture will make you cold. The best types of clothes to pack are those made of moisture-wicking fabric. This type of material pulls the sweat away from your skin and allows it to evaporate faster, which means you won’t feel as hot or sweaty.

The final clothing item on our list is one you’ll definitely want to bring when camping in the rain – a waterproof jacket with a hood. While your waterproof jacket might be a little warm for day trips, it’ll keep you dry and comfortable during wet weather!

A hat

Things to keep in mind while picking a hat for an outdoor wildlife safari

Whether you are going on an outdoor wildlife safari or trekking in the wilderness, having the right gear is important. A good hat is one of the most essential parts of your gear.

The sun can be harsh on the skin and cause skin damage as well as heatstroke especially if you are out in open with no shade. A good hat will help protect from sunburns and even insect bites!

When you’re out in the wild, you need to be prepared for anything. A hat is a great way to protect yourself from whatever nature throws your way, but not all hats are created equal.

Our Outdoor Wildlife Safari Hat is designed with the adventurer in mind. It’s made from 100% cotton and comes in both khaki and black. It’s water-resistant, so it’ll keep you dry through light rain or snow.

It has an adjustable chin strap and a built-in neck flap with a secret pocket. The neck flap can be tucked away when not needed, but if you need some protection from the sun or wind, just pull it down and you’re covered.

The best part? This hat has built-in netting that provides protection against bugs. It’s perfect for outdoor expeditions where bugs can be an issue.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen for wildlife outdoor trips

If you are going on a wildlife trip, whether it is a safari or an expedition, then you need to be careful about your health and skin. The climate and conditions will not be the same as what you are used to in your own country. Moreover, there will be insects and animals around that can cause skin problems. So it is important you take extra care of your skin before, during and after the trip.

Make sure you use good sunscreen when you go on such trips. It is also recommended that you use insect repellent if it is a jungle safari or if there is a possibility of mosquitoes or other insects in the region. You should also pack some moisturizer with SPF so that your skin stays protected even after a bath or swimming in the sea.

Sunglasses

For many of us, a wildlife trip is the vacation of a lifetime. It’s common to spend months planning and saving for this special journey. But once you’re there, it can be easy to forget what you need for your eyes.

Sunglasses are an absolute necessity when travelling outdoors—regardless if you’re in the jungle or on the beach. The sun never stops shining, and ultraviolet rays are always present.

To help you pack your suitcase, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 pairs of sunglasses to take with you on your next wildlife trip.

1. Serengeti Lince

2. Costa Del Mar Fantail

3. Oakley GasCan

4. Maui Jim Cliff House

5. Smith Outlier 2 Carbonic Polarized

6. Ray-Ban Predator 2 Polarized RB2027

7. Oakley Holbrook Metal Sunglasses

8. Revo Baseliner Sunglasses

9. Tifosi Tyrant 2 Sunglasses

10. Julbo MonteRosa Goggles

Anti-malaria medication and first-aid kit

Every camp or lodge will have at least a basic first aid kit, and most safari vehicles will too (especially those operated by higher-end camps). However, it’s always a good idea to bring your own small supply of hygiene and health essentials. 

Insect repellent

Insect repellent is a must-have item when you’re spending time outdoors. Not only are insect bites itchy, but they can also be dangerous. Staying protected with insect repellent is crucial to having an enjoyable experience in nature.

What is the best insect repellent?

Learn more about the different types of insect repellents and find out how to choose a product that’s right for you

Types of insect repellents

Topical (spray-on) repellents: The most common type of insect repellent, these products contain chemicals that mask the smells that attract insects. Chemicals used as active ingredients are typically DEET or picaridin, although others such as oil of lemon eucalyptus are growing in popularity.

Insecticide-treated clothing: You can purchase clothing treated with permethrin (an insecticide) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. Permethrin kills insects on contact, so it’s very effective in keeping them away from your skin. This type of treatment may last up to 70 items of washing and offers protection even after repeated laundering. Additionally, pre-treated clothing is available at most sporting goods stores or online in several styles and sizes, including

Takeaway: Your equipment and clothing help you see, blend in with the animals, protect you from the sun, and keep insects at bay.

Toiletries

Here are some important items you should carry with you when going on wildlife outdoor trips.

Toiletries for wildlife outdoor trips

1. Lip Balm:

As mentioned earlier, it is a good idea to carry a moisturizer for your lips. The best way to protect your lips from the sun, wind and cold is by using lip balm.

A lip balm not only provides moisturization; it also provides a protective layer for your lips. This can be very helpful when you are travelling in extreme weather conditions.

2. Moisturizer:

Although it’s easy to find moisturizers in the form of lotions, creams and gels, if you are looking at packing light, go for a moisturizing stick instead.

If you have dry skin, you can use shea butter as a moisturizer. It is great on the skin and smells really nice too. Just make sure that you do not rub it like a lotion; rub your fingers on the surface of shea butter until they’re warm and then just pat it onto your skin.

Cash, credit card and traveller’s checks

You are taking the trip of a lifetime. You need to know what money to bring and how to access cash while in Africa. Money is also one of the top things that people worry about while on safari, so I will try to calm some of your fears here. It is not that complicated, but there are a few things you need to know.

In general, we do not recommend bringing traveller’s checks for an African Safari. They are difficult to convert and often require a lot of personal information to cash them. Don’t waste your time with them! You can safely bring only cash and/or credit cards if you follow the guidelines below.

Many people are unsure of what to do with their money on safari. Here are the options:

Cash – this is the best option for paying for items in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In the tourist areas, US dollars and pounds sterling are widely accepted (and some hotels will take euros). In Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the official currencies are the Kenyan shilling, Tanzanian shilling and Ugandan shilling respectively. You can easily exchange your cash for these currencies at banks or bureau de change in urban areas such as Nairobi or Kampala. However, you should not take shillings outside of their country of origin; they are not accepted elsewhere in East Africa.

Credit cards – credit and debit cards are widely accepted in most of the Southern African countries and Kenya’s urban centres (Nairobi and Mombasa). They may be accepted in some upmarket resorts in Tanzania. They certainly aren’t widely used elsewhere in East Africa.

Traveller’s checks – these days, traveller’s checks have been replaced by cards as the preferred method of taking money abroad. Traveller’s checks can be difficult to cash in East Africa (you will often need an ID card) so we don’t recommend using them.

Takeaway: You need to pack a lot of things for a wildlife safari in Africa, but if you buy all the items ahead of time you can just spend your vacation enjoying it!

Final Useful Tips

Before you start packing, make sure to explore and research your options carefully. If there are two parts to your trip, you may be able to pack a separate duffel or backpack for the safari trip and leave your main suitcase with your tour operator or hotel back at base. This keeps things light for your bush flight to Ngorongoro Crater, for example, while still allowing you to pack your scuba gear for your second week on the beach in Zanzibar.

 

You should also try to find out ahead of time whether your safari camp or lodge offers a laundry service. If not, you can recycle clothes by packing a small bottle of travel detergent and a length of thin nylon rope to serve as a makeshift laundry line. 

 

When choosing your suitcase, a soft-sided duffel is almost always a better bet than a rigid hardshell case. Duffels are easier to fit into narrow overhead compartments or into the back of a safari vehicle – and they’re more likely to withstand the wear and tear of life in the bush. Because poverty and corruption lead to theft at many third-world airports, we recommend plastic wrapping your bags before your flights and investing in a decent luggage lock. Always pack your valuables (and especially your camera with all your precious memories) in your hand luggage.

South Africa
South Africa

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you think there are more things to do in South Africa that are not included please let me know in the comments.


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