The golden rule here is to pack as lightly as possible. You don't want to be stuck with a lot of heavy baggage that you might not use anyway.
Space will be at a premium on your international flight, light aircraft transfers and safari vehicle so with that in mind, the safari packing list below will help you to pack only the necessary and correct items.
It may look long at first glance but depending on your personal circumstances and the type of trip you are going on some of the items won't be applicable to you and you can safely ignore them.
The safari packing list is based on the advice and recommendations from all the trip reports over the years at African Safari Journals and my own experience in packing for the hundreds of safaris (including self drives) that I have been on.
- There are specific clothing mistakes that many people often make when they go on safari. Find out how to avoid them...
- Safari hats must do three things well to be effective.
- Clothing in neutral colours: khaki, light brown/green, tan. Avoid bright colours & white for improved game viewing, especially when on foot. Not as important in a vehicle.
- A safari jacket is a very handy accessory to take with on your trip.
- Comfortable short- and long sleeved safari shirts (2 or 3 of each)
- Comfortable shorts and long trousers (2 or 3 of each)
- About 5 sets of underwear
- Swimming costume
- Flip-flops or sport sandals (public showers, airing feet)
- Comfortable safari hiking/walking shoes (not white). These are very important on a walking safari.
- About 5 pairs of socks
- Extra shoelaces
Some of these supplies might be available in the first aid kit that every safari company should carry but make sure before leaving them off your safari packing list.
- Insect repellent/Mosquito Coil (do not use coils in a tent)
- Mosquito netting - Your safari company might supply these so find out from them first
- Sunblock and after sun lotion
- A travel towel is light and takes very little space
- Skin cream
- Malaria tablets (very important)
- Citronella or other body soap/shower gel
- Sunglasses - make sure they have polarised lenses.
- Biological Water Filtration Bottle or you can stick to the bottled water
- Wet wipes/hand sanitizer or no-water/antibacterial soap - very handy in the safari vehicle.
- Pocket Knife (Swiss/Leatherman type)
- Small scissors, if not on your Leatherman/Swiss knife
- Toothbrush/toothpaste/dental floss
- 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner
- Lip balm
- Q-tips & cotton balls
- Razor & shaving cream/gel
- Birth control (enough to last your trip)
- Sanitary requirements (shops are sometimes few and far between, and very basic)
- Contact lens solution & extra set of disposable lenses
- Band aids & moleskin
- Antiseptic cream
- Motion sickness tablets
- Heartburn remedy
- Anti-diarrhoea medicine
- Re-hydration salts
- Small unbreakable mirror
- Plastic bags (wet washing/muddy shoes/organise clothes in suitcase)
- Small compass
- Deck of cards/travel size game
- Book to read between game viewing and other leisure time
- String/rope (washing line, tying sleeping bag, multitude of uses!!)
- Cold/flu tablets
- Allergy remedy
- Some people take a basic antibiotic in case
- Sterile needles (in case you need an injection and don't trust the hygiene conditions)
- Prescribed medicine (enough to last your trip) - keep packed in your hand luggage in case of baggage delays
- The thing to remember when choosing safari luggage is mobility. You will probably be moving between several different modes of transport (airplanes, cars, light aircraft, trucks, boats) so plan accordingly.
- Suitcases with wheels don't work very well in the African bush but they are adequate if you don't mind carrying them. A good safari company will probably have someone on hand to carry your luggage for you.
- A daypack is very handy to transport the items you need while driving around in the safari vehicle or walking through the bush.
- Safari Binoculars. Essential for a successful trip. No safari packing list is complete without them.
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Camera, memory cards, extra batteries, battery charger and lens cleaner
- Read the free "Better Safari Photography" ebook for information on the best safari cameras and lenses to take with.
- Small bean bag to substitute a tripod
- Sleeping Bag if on a camping safari (may be supplied by safari company so check first)
- Travel pillow, or you can use your polar fleece/windbreaker
- Small calculator (or if you're taking your mobile phone) for currency calculations
- Money belt
- Washing powder/travel soap for laundry
- Plug adaptors - generally in Africa it's 3-prong round or square
- Lighter/waterproof matches
- Travel alarm clock
- Mini combination locks (keys get lost)
- Mini sewing kit
- Passport & correct visas
- Emergency phone numbers
- Africa travel insurance policy
- The African Safari Journals travel dairy book - to write your journal and record the wildlife you see. Also includes a hard copy safari packing list
- Guide book(s) covering the area you're visiting - it should include animals/birds pages for easy identification
- Your itinerary
- Addresses and mobile numbers (postcards/e-mails/texts)
- Any vaccinations certificates
- International Youth Hostel card (depending on your type of trip and accommodation)
- Phone card and international access numbers
- Extra passport photos
- Copy of your passport, kept in a separate place than your passport
- Copy of marriage certificate, if applicable especially if you recently tied the knot
- Medical history
- Copies of prescriptions
- Small stickers to label your used films, if you still use film
Follow this safari packing list and you will never have to worry about the frustration of leaving something behind or taking something that you won't need on your African safari.
Print the safari packing list out and tick the items off as you go along to make sure you don't miss anything.
If you're planning to do a self guided camping safari, find out what to take from our camping checklist.
Did I miss anything? What did you find really valuable on your safari? Let me know here...
Top Three Safari Companies
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