We recommend that you still use the full safari packing list on this page to ensure that you get the right clothing and gear for your safari - and the best advice.
Safari packing list introduction
⊙ This is the ultimate safari packing list and we believe offers the best response to the frequently repeated question "What should I pack for my safari to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa".
⊙ This safari packing list has been a decade in the making and has been made by our safari packing list experts to ensure that you pack the correct safari clothing and gear for just about all types of safaris: game drive safaris, walking safaris, canoe or paddling safaris, horse safaris, gorilla safaris, and mountain trekking safaris. In a sentence: we are dedicated to ensuring that you have the most incredible time on safari and packing the right safari clothing, safari luggage, safari binoculars, and all the other important safari accessories is key to this.
⊙ As a general introduction to the safari experience, most safaris start early in the morning and will be on open safari vehicles with little protection from wind and rain. The rule of thumb is to dress in layers for all activities. For more in-depth information on what to pack for your safari - and why - we recommend that you read through our safari clothing advice, safari luggage advice, safari binocular advice, and our safari accessories advice pages.
⊙ This packing list calculates the total number of items you will require for the number of men, women, and children you have indicated above. Simply divide by the number of men, women, and children should you wish to work out the number of items required on a per person basis or, of course, set the number to one for each in the form above.
⊙ Please also note that if your safari is longer than 12 days - and if you will have a laundry service available on your safari - that you should only take the recommended number of items for a 12-day safari or you will run out of space in your safari luggage.
⊙ To find out what our experts have to say about each recommended item, please simply click on "more info" and following the advice link. We have also included accessories you may need for add-on safari activities such as gorilla safaris, plus everything else you will need to remember to pack in your bag.
2. Safari clothing which offers a built-in insect defence. Insist on seeing proof that the built-in anti-insect treatment has been proven to work by asking to see the laboratory test results;
3. Safari clothing that offers protection from the sun. This will be shown as an SPF rating. 50+ is the highest rating available today;
4. Safari clothing that is lightweight, but which also has built-in ripstop for added strength;
5. As we all prefer to smell fresh, select safari clothing that uses an anti-microbial or anti-bacterial fabric. This also means that you will be able to wear the same safari clothing for longer and so pack less and travel lighter.
6. Add to the protective performance of the safari clothing which you take on safari by packing a wide-brimmed, packable safari hat, an effective sunscreen, and insect repellent which has been proven to work to spray onto your safari clothing, safari hat, and skin.
2 to 3 months before departure
⊙ Visa: If you require a visa and want to get it beforehand, make sure that you apply for the visa as soon as possible.
⊙ Passport: Check that your passport has sufficient pages as most African countries require two blank pages or more, and that your passport does not expire within 6 months. Apply for new passport if needs be.
⊙ Medication: Ensure that you visit your doctor and tell him where you are going. He will then advise you on malaria prophylactics, and other injections or medication that is necessary for your trip
8 Weeks Prior to Departure
⊙ Pay: Make sure that you have settled your balance due for your holiday with your tour operator.
⊙ Safari supplies: This is a good time to also contact The Safari Store for advice on what to pack, and to obtain your safari essentials (as above) in good time.
⊙ Re-confirm: If travelling independently, you must go through your itinerary, check that all flight times (including dates) coincide with your holiday dates, and contact all lodges, camps, hotels, transfer, private guides & car hire companies to re-confirm your holiday details
⊙ Pets, houses etc: Make sure you have made arrangements for your pets, booked a house sitter, and any other arrangements you may need to make for post, services and so forth.
4 Weeks Prior to Departure:
⊙ Departure-day planning: A smooth departure day takes 3/4 of the stress out of your holiday. Make sure that you arrange parking at the airport, start looking into taxis or trains, and book where necessary.
⊙ Travel money: Work out what you are going to do to pay for tips, purchases, extra tours etc while travelling.Arrange cash, credit & debit cards, travellers cheques accordingly (travellers cheques tend to be a pain to use in most parts of Africa - cash and credit cards are best! Take small denominations in cash in US Dollars - US$1, 5, 10 & 20 for tips and sundry purchases).
1 to 2 Weeks Prior to Departure
⊙ Pack: If you are organised, this is a good time to start packing for your trip. Ensure that you have all the correct safari clothing and luggage from The Safari Store. If you require any further supplies, contact The Safari Store or use the links at the top of this page to shop with us online. Also work out what you are taking as hand luggage, and what will go into the hold.
⊙ Check: Check again that you have your passport with visa, correct travel documentation, travel vouchers, confirmed itinerary, tickets, etc
⊙ Tell: Tell your bank & credit card provider that you are going away so they know to expect transactions from outside your home country; Let your mobile phone company know too, and set up your preferred setting for roaming; Remind friends and family that you are going away - passing on your itinerary, with hotel/lodge/camp contact details to people involved in managing your affairs while you are away is also a good idea.
⊙ Confirm: Taxis, train times, pet & house sitters. This may also be a good time to check on exchange rates for the country you are going to.
⊙ Nice & relaxed: With the proper preparation this should be as simple as picking up your luggage and travel documents, locking the front door, jumping into your taxi, or walking to the train station, checking in and taking off. Allowing yourself sufficient time to check in at the airport is vital in reducing the stress of travel. Arrive early, rather than late.
As a general rule children usually do not usually go on walking safaris. While the minimum age varies, usually children under 12 to 14 years old are not permitted on true nature or big game walks. Children over the age of 12 to 14 years old should fit into adult sized shoes for men and women. As a result we do not yet stock safari shoes for younger kids. Having said that we are still able to offer advice on shoes for younger kids. Most safari camps will take your kids around the camp area to look for small grubs and insects and to show then tracks and trees. As with adults, therefore, wearing closed shoes is important for kids when on safari. This is especially true at night when there may be scorpions and other crawling animals active on the ground. Also smaller sizes of safari socks should fit your kids, and the safari gaiters provide an added level of protection around the camp.
Keeping all your travel documents, money and cards in a travel wallet makes good sense - especially as the more disorganised the border the more organised you want to be. As always be savvy and keep some money and cards in another location just in case your travel wallet goes missing.
Click here to view our range of Travel wallet
Keeping your various devices fully charged is key to recording, sharing and staying in touch with loved ones on safari. Make sure to work out how many devices you need to charge and take enough adaptors and usb cables with you to simultaneously charge all your devices.
Click here to view our range of Travel Adaptors
Always take spare batteries and make sure you pack chargers for your smartphone, torch, camera, laptop, tablet computers, and any other electronic devices. Our rule of thumb is to always take more batteries than you think you will need - and the same is true for memory cards for your photographic devices. It would be very sad to run out of power and memory on your camera halfway through your safari. Also investigate what power source will be available to you for charging devices while you are on safari.
Specialist Safari Clothing And Gear To Pack
6 x Anti-chafe tights for walking & active safaris
Bad chafing - as with bad blisters - may make your walking or active safari very uncomfortable. We recommend that you wear a pair of anti-chafe running tights under your safari trousers or safari shorts just to make sure that your inner thighs do not chafe.
3 x Pair of gardening gloves for gorilla safaris
The forests of Rwanda, Uganda, and eastern Congo where the last remaining mountain gorillas are found can be challenging, thickly-vegetated places to go trekking. As this vegetation is made up of all sorts of plants with thorns, serrated leaves, and sword-like fronds, it is advisable to pack a pair of gardening gloves so that you do not cut your hands as you scramble up steep slopes and pull back bushes to make your way in search of these elusive great apes.
For water-based safaris such as canoe safaris, boating safaris, green-season safaris, and dugout/mekoro safaris, pack your valuables into one of our smaller safari bags and then pack that into a waterproof dry-bag to keep your essential safari gear dry. We recommend that you first test your dry-bag by filling it with tissue paper, closing it, and submerging it under water in your bath or a pool. If the tissue gets wet, then try re-sealing your dry-bag or get a better dry-bag.
3 x Pair of ankle gaiters for walking safaris
6 x Non-safari shirts for travel and around the camp
While safari-coloured clothing is ideal to wear when travelling to your safari and relaxing around camp, sometimes nothing beats a crisp white shirt to wear around camp or to dinner at night. When our founder, Steve, used to work 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.
While safari clothing doubles well as everyday clothing to wear when you travel and relax around the camp in the evenings and during the day, pack casual shirts and/or t-shirts if space allows. Also see "non-safari shirts for travel and around the camp" on this packing list.
A safari-coloured kikoy is very useful to pack for your safari simply as they are very versatile. Wear your kikoy as a scarf, on your head, or even as a skirt or dress. They are very useful for around the pool too.
If your safari camp or lodge has a gym, then by all means pack your gym clothing to stay fit on safari - and to counter all that delicious safari food and drink you will be served.
If you enjoy running, then some lodges may be able to take you for a run with one of their fitter guides - at your own risk of course. The way this would usually work is that you would drive in a safari 4x4 game-viewer to a big open plain or to the airstrip and then your guide would run with you while someone drives the safari 4x4 game-viewer close behind you.
Be sure to drink lots of water whenever you exercise in Africa as safari areas are often high above sea level and, if you exercise at midday, then pretty hot too. It is also a good idea to take some rehydration sachets or drink tea before and after exercising.
Seasonal Safari Clothing To Pack
3 x Waterproof Safari Jacket for the rainy season
Read our expert advice on why you may need a waterproof safari layer for your safari, when it rains in Africa. View our range of waterproof safari layers for men, women, and kids.
Pack your health card and travel insurance details for your safari - and let your health insurer know that you are travelling to Africa. They will usually ask you for the dates for your trip too. Double check that you are covered for repatriation and medical expenses should anything go wrong while you are on safari.
We prefer to use credit cards where possible, but taking some smaller denominations of US dollars is always a good idea for tipping and any emergencies. Opt for mostly US$5, $10, and $20 notes with a few $50 notes just in case. Do not travel with large sums of money, however, and note that many countries in Africa have cash points (ATMs) where you will be able to withdraw local currency too. Again, however, don't overdraw as you do not want to be heading home with a wallet full of a currency you cannot use.
Prescription Glasses & Hard Glasses Case
It would be a pity to travel all the way to Africa but forget to pack your glasses. Pack them in a hard suitcase so that they outlast even the roughest safari transfer or game drive - and also pack an extra emergency pair just in case you drop yours.
Take along a small selection of good safari guides books, maps, and fiction and non-fiction books which cover areas which interest you. You will add to the enjoyment of your safari by being able to read up on the wildlife you view while on safari - and you will have lots of spare time between morning and evening safari activities. Always keep in mind the luggage allowance and how much you are able to carry on active safaris such as walking safari. Shop our range of safari books and safari maps.
In our interview with Steve Backshall, he rated super glue as the one thing he won't leave home without: "I always carry superglue. That's my number one tip because it's fantastic for covering up blisters, for covering quite decent sized wounds - it can be used as a really good dressing - and then obviously you can use it to stick your fingers to your face if you feel like it or stick bits of your gear together or stick the sole of your boot back on if it's coming off".
Note: we are not so sure about the advice to use it as a dressing, so please do not do this. Rather get your lodge to assist you with their full medical aid kit.
While our BUGTech safari shirts and clothing feature anti-bacterial technology - which will keep your shirt smelling fresh for longer - always take deodorant. We usually pack roll-on simply as it lasts so long and is less bulky.
This is something we always take with us as it is surprisingly useful beyond being great for getting stuff out from between your teeth - it can be used as emergency twine too for repairing safari clothing, safari luggage and so on.