An African Safari is on most travellers’ bucket lists. Seeing the magnificent wildlife of Africa up close and personal, and wondering just how many of the big five am I going to see today? However, packing for an African safari is vastly different from packing for just about any other trip, and it’s often a challenge for first-time safari-goers.
As annoying as packing is, you must know what to wear on a safari to feel comfortable. As you can imagine, you’ll be in the sun a lot and therefore need clothes that protect you. As well as being in the red dust; hence you will need clothes that hide dirt well. I have gone on several safaris, and I have created this ultimate safari packing list.
PREPARING FOR AN AFRICAN SAFARI
CHECK VISA APPLICATIONS
You will have to make sure your visa application is sorted out before setting sail for your safari. I would suggest you get a multi-entry visa. You will probably need the following things to process your visa online or get it on arrival at your destination.
Proof of accommodation
Proof of funds (i.e., bank statements, etc.)
Return flight tickets
CASH IS KING – BRING LOTS OF USD
The phrase “Cash is King” has never been so accurate as it is in Africa. Before setting off, make sure that you do bring a lot of USD, or be prepared to withdraw a lot when you land at the airport for a better exchange rate. You can use this to pay for your visa on arrival and taxi and exchange it for the local currency to purchase things with ease. It also comes in handy when you want to tip the locals, i.e., drivers, bartenders, tour guides, hotel housekeepers, waiters, etc.
UPDATE YOUR VACCINATIONS
Do this about 4-6 weeks before your travels. I would recommend the following vaccinations, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, and tetanus.
REQUEST MALARIA PILLS
Getting malaria tablets before you jet off is a must. Start taking one week before your trip, and take up to one week after your trip. You can purchase them cheaply in most drug stores and pharmacies.
PRINT YOUR BOOKING INFORMATION
Finally, make sure you print out all your booking information as this will make your life a lot easier. Many things can happen, phone batteries can die, and you might not have wifi at your location. It’s always better to have a backup.
Also, bear in mind you will need blank pages in your passport for your visa and six months left to travel.
WHAT SEASON TO GO ON SAFARI
Africa is a very vast continent covering the north and south hemispheres. The weather in most of sub-Saharan Africa is either wet or dry. The dry season is usually the ideal time to go on safari when it’s more comfortable to spot and see the animals, and the roads and routes are more convenient to navigate.
Dry season: January to March and June to October
Wet season: Around April to June and November to December
Dry season: May to October
Wet season: Around November to April
THE BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR AFRICA
I would never recommend travelling to Africa without proper travel insurance. I use safety wings in all my travels in Africa and beyond.
If you love some rush of adrenaline and adventures, this is the best travel insurance for you since they do have coverage for both – which is very important for African travels. Their customer care is impeccable, and I love that you can file claims online.
“Search below and make sure you are protected during your travels”
WHERE TO GO ON SAFARI
If you have never been to the African continent, then you have a lot to be excited about and look forward to. With half a continent at your disposal, it can be a very daunting task to choose where to go. Where else would you want to experience the taste of Africa other than Kenya? This is where safaris were born,
Kenya’s wildlife offering is fantastic. The main safaris to check out are the Masai Mara, Amboseli, and Lake Nakuru, with Tsavo West, Tsavo East, and Samburu popular add-ons. You would be assured of seeing the big five lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos. You will also see zebras, giraffes, antelope, cheetahs, etc. If you love the adrenaline rush, then do check out Mt Kenya, Africa’s second-highest peak.
“Below are some tours you can take to the Masai Mara or find other activities to do while there ”
WHAT TO WEAR ON SAFARI
It is crucial to pack the right items when going on a safari as you want to be as comfortable as possible.
PLENTY OF UNDERGARMENTS
Plenty of undergarments are an absolute must when you’re on a safari. If you were to visit in the dry season, you’re more likely than not going to sweat under the sweltering sun profusely, and you don’t want to be sitting in wet underwear all day. As someone who can sweat in the middle of winter in England, I can’t stress how vital it is to bring lots of underwear!
Short/long sleeve shirts are another essential item you will need to bring. Without saying, in the daytime, the temperature can get up to 25C, and you will want to wear a short-sleeve shirt. Ensure that the shirt is breathable as you will be under the sun for most of the day looking for most of the animals.
LONG SLEEVED SHIRT
However, the reason you will need a long sleeve shirt is in the mornings and evenings. The temperature can be as low as 9C. If you’re covered up in the nighttime and have more breathable and less covered clothing in the daytime, this should allow you to be much more comfortable on your safari.
A sun hat and sunblock are a necessity on a Kenyan safari. As mentioned above, you will be under the sun most of the day, and a sun hat can be a great way to save yourself from getting sunstroke. It can also help keep your body cooler and refreshed as the sun should be off your face and head.
Sunblock is key to making sure you have a great safari. No one wants to get burned knowing the next day they’re going to be under the sun the entire day again. As you will be wearing short sleeves, make sure you cake yourself in sunblock on your arms and anywhere else exposed to the sun.
A rainproof jacket is also another great shout! Although you’d expect it not to rain in the dry season, it still can hammer it down out of nowhere. Keep your jacket at the top of your bag, so if it were to pour with rain unexpectedly, you could access it straight away! A rainproof jacket will make sure that your dry clothes won’t get wet, and after it stops raining, you can take them back off. You need to remember there isn’t anywhere you can go back and get changed and dried. So also bring a towel with you to dry off!
SANDALS / FLIPFLOPS
On your feet, it’s essential to bring suitable footwear. If you are staying in the truck and watching the animals from a distance, it is recommended to have open-air breathable sandals or flip-flops. Being in the sun the whole day in a truck can be a little uncomfortable. While in the truck, I would strongly recommend having sandals or flip-flops on your feet.
LONG AIRY PANTS
Long airy pants are an item that so many people forget, however, is one you MUST not! Long airy pants will make sure that you have plenty of breathable room not to sweat as much and keep you protected from insects like mosquitoes and keep the sun off you. They are an essential item of clothing, so make sure you have a couple of pairs with you for your safari.
Finally and sticking with footwear, I would also bring some good quality high socks. This is to help keep your feet protected for similar reasons to wearing safari boots. Nevertheless, the two go hand in hand. The high socks will keep you from getting blisters and protect your feet from any insects trying to bite you. Comfortable and high-quality socks will improve your safari experience as you won’t need to worry about foot issues!
If you are leaving the vehicle to find your animals, I would highly advise you to wear comfortable safari boots. You will be going on treks to see gorillas as an example, and therefore, you must have suitable footwear. This will make sure your feet are safe from anything you’re walking on and protect your feet from blisters. The safari boots will also keep off insects and other creatures while you trek through wild areas.
This is very useful –it can be used to protect from cold in the mornings and cover your shoulders from the sun or mosquitoes in the evenings.
- Power bank
- Electrical adaptor
- Spare memory cards
- Binoculars (but the majority of the time the guides always have one you can borrow)
- Small flashlight (for when it gets dark on the campsite/lodge)
TOILETRIES AND FIRST AID
It’s always recommended to bring your supply of toiletries and first aid essentials
- Hand sanitisers
- Sanitary towels/pads for ladies
- Cold and flu medicines
- Diarrhoea medication
- Antiseptic cream
- Mosquito repellent
- Personal toiletries (i.e., soap, deodorant, moisturizer, toothpaste, and toothbrush)
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT BRING
Plastic bags are illegal in Kenya, so please don’t pack any in your bags. If you do, you will have to dispose of them at the airport. Every drink came in a glass bottle. All of the toiletries at our lodges were also in glass bottles. If you use a plastic bag in Kenya, there are hefty fines.