You will need a smaller safari bag to take with you on all safari activities - whether a few hours or a few days - including game drive safaris, walking safaris, horse riding safaris, mountain biking safaris, boating safaris, fishing safaris, canoeing safaris, and mekoro (dugout) safaris.
Into this smaller safari bag will go any number of safari essentials such as sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, binoculars, waterproof jacket (assuming you are wearing your warm-layer safari jacket or fleece), a safari beanie, any books you want to take on safari with you, water bottle, perhaps your passport if you prefer to keep it with you - and any other personal effects you want to take with you on safari.
The nature of your safari will determine which bag - or bags - you decide to take with you on your safari. For example, if you are only planning on going on game drives, then you will be fine to take any safari satchel, safari backpack, safari tote, or over-the-shoulder safari bag as you will just be walking with it from your room to the safari 4x4 and then placing it on the seat next to you. If you also want to do walks from the lodge (recommended), then you would need a safari satchel or safari backpack and, if you are on a proper walking safari, then you would need a safari satchel or safari backpack which you are happy to have over the shoulder or on your back for many kilometres or miles of walking.
Your choice of smaller safari bag (or bags) could and should also double as your safari carry-on bag for flights to and from Africa. If you prefer a larger carry-on to carry some clothes, then take this bag in addition to your carry-on. Some brands of holdall/duffel luggage - such as the Mara&Meru™ Voyager range - also allow you to zip and lock the ideal safari satchel-backpack combination bag as an end pocket on to your main safari bag, which means that you simply unzip it when you get to your safari to use it as your smaller safari bag. That way you are able to check it into the aircraft hold for your international flight to Africa.
Number of smaller safari bags to pack for your safari:
1 x smaller safari bag per person.
If you are going on a classic game drive type of safari, then pack comfortable women's safari shoes to wear on game drive but which are able to double as good walking shoes for a walk in the bush - an activity we highly recommend. Note that if you do not have walking shoes with you on game drive then your guide may decide against a quick impromptu walk in the bush
Also take a pair of women's safari shoes to wear around the camp. These may be the same pair as your select for the above, but it may also be a pair of cooler sandals, pumps, or similar.
For full-on walking safaris make sure you take women's safari shoes which are made for longer hikes - and ensure that you walk them in properly before you go on safari. You may prefer low rise canvas trail shoes or leather higher rise boots - the preference is purely personal.
If you are going on a walking safari in sandy areas (check with the walking safari company you have booked with) then we suggest that you pack higher rise boots with a built in tongue - such as our Rufiji™ APU Safari Combat Boots - as this will minimise the amount of sand which goes into the shoe which will cause discomfort.
We would still take a a pair of cooler women's shoes or sandals for before and after walks when around the camp.
Safari tip: always check your shoes for small snakes, scorpions, spiders and insects before putting them on.
Number of women's safari shoes to pack for your safari:
Up to 4-day safari: x 2 (1+1); Up to 8-day safari: x 2 (1+1); Up to 12-day safari: x 2 (1+1)
*"(1+1)" explained: Walking shoes + shoes to wear around camp.
For the best protection from the strength of the midday sun in Africa - for your neck and face - pack a wide-brimmed women's safari hat.
With mean high temperatures reaching mid-20 to mid-30 degrees Celsius on most safaris and with safari areas in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and Zambia high above sea level, the effects of the sun will be pronounced and the risk of being burnt by the sun will be high. A wide-brimmed women's safari hat is literally your first line of defence against sunburn.
Wide-brimmed women's safari hats also provide shelter when it rains. We find that a wide-brimmed safari hat definitely makes it more comfortable when you are caught out on a walk or game drive by a sudden thunderstorm or tropical shower, as at least your face remains dry and fewer drops go into your eyes.
Colour is key when choosing a women's safari hat - with neutral shades such as khaki, green, or brown the best. Your safari hat will often be the most conspicuous part of you while viewing wildlife on a walking safari.
Pack a women's safari hat which suits your safari style. Fortunately, there are more styles available for women today which range from leather hats to classically-styled indie and panama-shaped hats.
Modern wide-brimmed women's safari hats are also conveniently packable and are easy manipulate back into shape. A note though: not all hats are packable and should be carried with your carry-on luggage - and, even when a hat is packable, never crush your safari hat under a hard object - such as shoes or binoculars - when packing.
Number of wide-brimmed women's safari hats to pack for your safari:
1 x wide-brimmed safari hat per person.
*Pack a warm and cosy safari beanie for cold mornings and the African winter too.
For your main large safari duffel or safari holdall, choose safari luggage which is soft and squashable and which has no frame. This is especially true for safari travel to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya and the reason for this is rather a practical one. The majority of safari lodges and camps within these countries are accessible only by light aircraft. As a result, in order for your pilot to fit your luggage into the small, cramped hold, your luggage must not have hard sides, nor rigid frames or structure, and should rather be soft-sided so that the pilot is able to fit (squash) your bag into the plane. The same is true for some overland and expedition-style safaris where there will be limited space for luggage in the safari 4x4.
Please check with the safari company you have booked with about luggage limitations for the internal flights on your safari, as the requirements may vary from safari to safari. Where luggage weight limitations are specified please note that - as the maximum take-off weight in any aircraft has to be strictly adhered to by pilots to maximise your safety on each flight - you may find that your pilot will not be able to take any luggage over the maximum allowed weight per passenger. In this instance, you may have to pay for your luggage to be flown separately.
Use a travel trolley to carry your main safari duffel or safari holdall as you are not meant to take safari luggage with a frame. Simply remove the travel trolley from your safari luggage when you do not need to wheel your safari luggage, collapse it, and either stow it in the hold or take it with you into the cabin. Your safari pilot will be able to advise which option he or she prefers.
Number of large, soft-sided safari bags to pack for your safari:
1 x large safari duffel or holdall bag per person.
Pack high-quality sunglasses for your safari which have very good lenses to avoid any damage to your eyes from the harsh rays of the African sun.
The majority of safari activities take place early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This means that you may be staring into a rising or setting sun during your safari, which makes packing good safari sunglasses even more important.
At midday, the light may also be quite harsh depending on which areas you visit and the terrain prevalent in that location. As an example, in areas of Botswana, there are large salt pans and the sand is bright white, which reflects the sun's rays and may be uncomfortable for your eyes.
Number of safari sunglasses to pack for your safari:
1 x pair of high quality sunglasses per person.
A high-quality pair of safari binoculars is, without doubt, the number one safari accessory. You will use your safari binoculars more than any other safari accessory on your safari.
Simply put, safari binoculars will add tremendous value to the enjoyment of your safari experience by allowing you to safely and intimately view mammals and birds through the lenses.
You see greater detail on the mammal, bird, reptile, insect, or vegetation you are viewing by either looking through your binoculars the normal way or by turning them around to magnify unseen, smaller details.
Safari binoculars also allow you to keep good distance from any bird or animal you are viewing, which gives you a better chance of not impacting on their behaviour by being too close. The net effect is that safari binoculars allow you to view the secret lives of Africa's fauna and flora, rather than only viewing how they react to your presence.
This then also highlights another important aspect of using safari binoculars: you don't have to get so close to larger mammals and reptiles , which means that you view them from a distance which not only increases your safety on safari, but also the the safety of the animal you are viewing.
Pack high-quality safari binoculars which have the following features for the best game-viewing on safari: multi-coated lenses for best light transmission on safari; nitrogen-filled lenses to avoid fogging on cold safari mornings; adjustable eyecups for comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses; adjustable dioptre to set the binoculars up for your eyes; centre focus wheel to get the best, crisp image (rather than auto-focus binoculars); and always get the highest quality lenses which you can afford. The better the lens, the greater the quality of the image you see and the longer you will be able to use your binoculars.
Optional but useful binocular features for your safari: field of view - the greater the field of view, the greater the area you will see at any one time while looking through the binoculars, making it easier to find your subject; rubber armour to protect your binoculars from bumps and falls; waterproofing - especially important for travel over the rainy season or for water-based safaris. Note that binoculars do not float, so always keep them around your neck, tied to you or the boat, or use a floating neck strap.
We recommend 10 x 42 safari binoculars as the safari standard for most safaris. "10x" refers to the magnification of the safari binoculars; "42" refers to the aperture of the lens at the front of the binoculars and is a measure of the diameter of the lens - here it means 42mm.
The larger the magnification, the closer the subject you are viewing will appear, but the harder it will be to keep the binoculars steady. The larger the aperture, the more light which is harnessed by the binoculars and the brighter the subject appears in your view finder. Larger apertures are useful for forest birding and low-light game-viewing. Given that most predators start hunting at dusk and stop hunting at dawn, a larger aperture may prove particularly useful.
Always blow off any dust from the lenses of your binoculars before cleaning with a clean cloth or lens cleaning tissue. Dust + cloth = sandpaper which will damage your binocular lenses.
Two top safari binocular technique tips: 1. Always set up the dioptre for your eyes so that the left and right lenses are set up for your left and right eyes, which will have some variation between the two. There is a video on how to do this on our dedicated safari binocular advice page; 2. When viewing a subject, many people struggle to find the subject through their safari binoculars. Simply look at the subject and then, without looking away from the subject, bring the binoculars up to your eyes.
Number of safari binoculars to pack for your safari:
1 x pair of high-quality safari binoculars per person.
Packing a good safari torch (flashlight) is an important essential for all safaris as it increases your safety while in the safari camp and may also add to the enjoyment of your safari.
Your safari torch should be used in the evenings as you walk around the safari camp to shine on the ground in front of you to avoid standing on any snakes (and other reptiles), spiders, scorpions, or insects which may bite or sting you. This is especially important when wearing open sandals or shoes around the camp area.
Use your safari torch to shine in the bush around you as you walk around the camp at night to spot and avoid wildlife which may have wandered into the camp in the evenings. Please note that this is important as many camps are unfenced - and, even for those with fences, some mammals are able to jump over fences. For unfenced camps, should you spot any of the predators (lion, leopard, hyena, and cheetah) or any of the bigger herbivores (elephant, rhino, buffalo), take care to avoid them as as they are all potentially dangerous. Very important tip: do not shine into the eyes of any of the bigger herbivores listed above, with particular attention paid to not shining into the eyes of elephant.
The safety aspect of safari flashlights aside, safari torches are very useful for trying to view nocturnal wildlife from the safety and comfort of your room or from the safari lodge. It is also a great way to show others the constellations in the night sky and to shine in your tent or room should the camp you are staying in have limited power for lights late into the night or on more basic walking and adventure safaris.
For safaris which are not lodge or camp based - or where amenities are limited and you have to use a torch to light your room, look for your clothes, and check for scorpions in your shoes - then packing a small battery-powered safari lamp which offers more diffuse and less direct lighting is a great idea. These types of lamps or lanterns are also great for reading a book at night where a torch would be too bright on a white page.
Number of safari torches to pack:
1 x powerful, compact safari torch per person; 1 x small battery-powered lantern or lamp per person for safaris where strong lighting is not provided in the room or tent.
*Pack extra batteries and a charger if the torch, lantern, or lamp is rechargeable. If there is no power source in the camp, then pack a small solar charger and recharge your torch, lamp, or lantern during the day. We often recommend that clients pack extra batteries for rechargeable torches and lanterns which are pre-charged at home as it is easier to replace a battery when it runs out - often when you really don't want it to - than to wait for a battery to recharge.
It can and does get cold on safari. See our Womens Safari Jackets and Fleeces page for more information on why this is the case.
Pack women's garments and accessories for your safari which keep you warm. Women's safari scarves, safari beanies, and safari gloves should be considered a packing essential over the African winter - and may also be required for some mornings on summer safaris too.
At the very least, we recommend packing a safari beanie on any safari as they are so small and light to carry in your luggage, yet have a big effect on how warm you are should you get cold. Keep your safari beanie in the bag you take on game drives. You may well get some envious stares from others who have not had the foresight to pack a safari beanie.
Further to the point above, for the African summer, pack a women's safari beanie just in case. For the most part, your women's wide-brimmed safari hat should keep you warm enough, but why take the risk? Please also take note of the altitude of the area in which you are going on safari. The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, as an example, is over 2000 metres above sea level and most camps are on the rim of the crater and so may have cold temperatures (morning and evenings in particular) and precipitation throughout the year, so we would recommend taking warmer safari accessories just in case.
Pack safari scarves, safari beanies, and safari gloves in safari colours.
Number of women's safari scarves, safari beanies, and safari gloves to pack for your safari:
1 x women's safari scarf; 1 x women's safari beanie; 1 x women's safari gloves - although you should be fine tucking your hands into your women's safari jacket or fleece to keep them warm.
Pack a highly-effective safari insect repellent for your safari - whether or not you are going to a malaria area. If you don't pack an effective insect repellent, the constant annoyance of insects such as mosquitoes, midges, and flies may dampen your enjoyment of your safari.
In areas with tropical diseases which are carried by insects - such as malaria - the higher the quality of the safari insect repellent you pack and constantly apply while on safari, the lower the chance of contracting any disease or illness. "Don't get bitten" just about sums up this line of thinking.
Insect repellents that are made and tested in tropical areas - and which are used daily in places such as Australia - we have found to be the best on numerous field tests in Africa. This is the reason why we personally use Australian-made insect repellent on our own safaris and expeditions and why we believe that you should too.
Apply insect repellent frequently to both your skin and clothing. For your face, spray the repellent into your hand and then apply it to your skin. Do not get it into your eyes and follow the instructions on the insect repellent bottle. For your clothing, check first that the safari insect repellent you use does not stain or damage your clothing and then apply it all over your trousers, shirt, hat, and shoes.
Always re-apply insect repellent after physical activities, sweating, swimming, or towelling yourself down.
Only use insect repellents for your safari which contain up to a maximum of 40% DEET. Some manufacturers include more DEET than that in their formula, but it does not increase the efficacy of the repellent - only the length of time it stays on your skin. Rather re-apply more frequently than use a repellent with more than 40% DEET.
Travel tip: Many of our clients make the mistake of only packing insect repellent for their safari and not for their beach holiday after their safari. Simply put, the risk of malaria is greater in coastal, tropical areas where there are usually much higher concentrations of people than in the wilderness and back country of Africa where you will go on safari. Pack enough insect repellent to cover your beach holiday - or onward travel in Africa - too.
Number of bottles of safari insect repellent to pack:
Up to 4-day safari: 1 x bottle per person; Up to 8-day safari: 2 x bottles per person; Up to 12-day safari: 3 x bottles per person
*Local conditions such as the time of year and presence of rain will determine the number of insects you may encounter on your safari. We prefer to err on taking a few too many bottles on safari than running out. For any extras after your safari, note that most insect repellents should last for a number of years and you will be able to use them at home during the summer months.
Walking in the bush while on safari is the quintessential experience. We recommend it to all who go to Africa.
Whether you go for a short nature walk with your guide or a multi-day walking safari, please ensure that you pack safari-coloured safari socks which offer a double layer for blister protection. Bad blisters ruin good walks.
Ankle gaiters are ideal for walking in the bush as they offer both your ankles and socks more protection from thorns, wet grass, grass seeds, and anything scurrying around at ankle level. A must-have for longer walking safaris, but useful on any bush walk.
Number of blister-proof socks to pack for your safari:
Up to 4-day safari: x 2; Up to 8-day safari: x 3; Up to 12-day safari: x 4.
Number of Ankle Gaiters to pack for your safari:
Pack 1 x Pair per person.
When the African sun gets to full strength from midday to early in the afternoon, it can be fierce. Pack a highly effective safari sunscreen which has been proven to work under an intense sun.
It is sensible to select a sunscreen which offers a broad spectrum, long-lasting transparent protection from both UVA and UVB light.
As most safaris are active, also opt for a sunscreen which allows you to perspire without losing the efficacy of the active ingredients. As a general rule, we recommend sprays over creams for this reason.
Apply sunscreen before you head out into the sun to allow it to absorb into your skin.
Re-apply safari sunscreen frequently. Also re-apply safari sunscreen after prolonged physical exertion and if you have towelled yourself down, worn a shirt over skin which you have treated with sunscreen, and after swimming.
Even if conditions on safari are overcast, we still recommend that you apply sunscreen as your skin may still be affected by the UVA and UVB light.
Number of bottles of safari sunscreen to pack:
Up to 4-day safari: 1 x bottle per person; Up to 8-day safari: 2 x bottles per person; Up to 12-day safari: 3 x bottles per person
*Take into account how many hours of the day you will be in the sun when on safari in determining how much sunscreen to take - and the strength of the sunscreen. For game drives, you will usually be in the sun for 4 to 6 hours but, for longer walking safaris and certainly for canoe safaris, this may be quite a bit longer than that. For canoe safaris, also bear in mind that the effect of the sun is strengthened by light bouncing off the water.
While safari-coloured clothing is ideal to wear when you travel to your safari and to relax in around camp, sometimes nothing beats a crisp white shirt to wear around camp - or to dinner at night.
When our founder, Steve, worked as a safari guide, this is exactly what the guiding team used to do for dinner. After a long hot day in the sun, take a long bath or refreshing shower and put on a crisp white shirt or a stylish blue travel shirt for the evening to look and feel great.
Packing extra safari shirts will of course depend on how much space you have left in your safari luggage once you have packed the essential safari clothing and gear.
If space is limited only take an extra shirt which is not safari-coloured and wear the shirt with your safari trousers or shorts.
These weekender and carry-on bags are ideal for short trips away and for use every day. They may also be used for very short safaris and adventure travel.
If you are looking for a bag which is suitable for both short and long trips then please look no further than our Voyager range. These bags all adjust from weekender sized bags to large duffels - simply by zipping on end pockets. You get to decide which version of the bag to take on your next adventure.
A soft and squashable bag is a safari packing essential.
Number of weekender bags to pack for your short trips and safaris: x1
Pack a travel trolley for your safari to help you carry your soft-sided luggage.
You are not meant to take safari luggage which is hard-sided or which has a rigid frame
and so using a travel trolley which is collapsible is a good idea.
Simply remove your safari travel trolley from your safari luggage when you do not need to wheel your safari luggage and either take into the cabin with you or see if you can check it in for your international flights.
Number of safari travel trolleys to pack for your safari:
1 x safari travel trolley per large safari bag.
*Note: Please ensure that no part of your safari luggage is touching the floor when you are wheeling it as this could damage your bag.