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.
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.
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.
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.
Pack a multi-functional Head&Neck scarf for just about all outdoor adventures, including safari. Head&Neck Scarves keep your neck and head out of the sun when it is hot, and provide an element of warmth too when it starts to get cold. They offer maximum versatility.
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.
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.
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