If you forgot that you and your family were going on safari and have to pack in a hurry or if you booked a last-minute safari for two leaving in the next few days, then this list will take the legwork and anxiety out of packing. This packing list has been designed by our team of packing experts and ensures that you leave for Africa with the core safari essentials. The quantities are also calculated to give you a base set of safari clothing and gear to cover the requirements of most modern safaris. Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list and you may be required to supplement these essential garments. If you have more time to pack and think things through, then please use our "Comprehensive Safari Packing List - for most safaris" and adjust the number of days and people to suit your specific safari requirements. This will ensure that you depart with the confidence that you have all the bases covered.
When packing for your safari, select clothing which offers some or all of the following six key travel garment technologies:
1. Clothing which is easy to pack, dries quickly, and wicks moisture away from the skin;
2. 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. Clothing that offers protection from the sun. This will be shown as an SPF rating. 50+ is the highest rating available today;
4. Clothing that is lightweight, but which also has built-in ripstop for added strength;
5. As we all prefer to smell fresh, select clothing that uses an anti-microbial or anti-bacterial fabric. This also means that you will be able to wear the same clothing for longer and so pack less and travel lighter.
6. Add to the protective performance of the 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 clothing, hat and skin.
▢ For gorilla safaris pack a pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands from the sharp foliage you may encounter while trekking to find the gorillas.
▢ Ensure that you pack blister-proof socks should you be going on a dedicated walking safari
▢ For canoe or white water safaris, a small dry bag is very useful to keep your phone, camera, and other personal effects dry. Should the colour of the dry bag not be safari-suitable, simply place it inside a safari-suitable satchel or backpack. This advice also applies for other waterborne activities such as motorboat and mekoro (dugout) activities while on your safari.
▢ For photographic safaris - whether you are using an SLR or your smartphone - always make sure you have more storage space than you think you will need. It is highly frustrating having to try to quickly select images to delete while on safari and the wildlife action is hotting up. Take spare batteries for your SLR and a portable charger for your other electronics.
▢ Swimming Trunks
▢ Malaria prophylaxis (please check with your doctor or travel clinic)
▢ Motion sickness pills (if needed for light aircraft flights)
▢ Lip Balm
▢ Shampoo/Conditioner (most camps have these available, but you may prefer your brand of choice)
▢ Toothpaste / Toothbrush
▢ Dental Floss
▢ Hair Brush / Comb
▢ Electric / Hand Razor
▢ Emery Boards, Tweezers etc
▢ Hand & Body Lotion
▢ Ladies Hygiene Supplies
▢ Health card and Insurance details
▢ Air tickets & Vouchers
▢ Money Pouch
▢ Credit Card & Calculator
▢ Prescription Glasses & Case
▢ Safari reading material
▢ Digital Camera with suitable lens with long focal length (around 200mm at least). The Swarovski iPhone adaptor allows you to take images too through your Swarovski binoculars. As a team we use either Digital SLR's with suitable lenses, or the Swarovski iPhone system which, with practice, works really well.
▢ Extra batteries, memory cards, camera, lens & binocular cleaning kit
▢ Travel adaptors and portable power for USB devices
▢ Super glue. In our interview with Steve Backshall, he rated this as the one thing to not leave home without.
▢ 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 asap!
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 - and don't forget to pack the BIG 5 Essentials (first page of this list, on the right). If you require any further supplies, contact The Safari Store. 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.
▢ Departure Day:
EASY PEASY: 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!
⊙ Anything to add to this timeline? Please contact us to let us know.