Essential items to take with you on safari.

It is the little things which often make the biggest difference: not only to the enjoyment of your safari, but also to keep you comfortable and safe while you are in the wilds of Africa. These are items which keep you protected from insects, the sun, blisters, and night-time creepy crawlies.

Essential safari accessories are the glue which keeps your other gear together.

Protection from biting insects:

Avoid being bitten: If you are travelling to a malaria area, you will need to take insect repellent as one of the precautions against being bitten (and bite relief in case any other flying insects bite you). The best way to avoid malaria and insect bites is to cover up in the evenings and use insect repellent. In some areas of the world, you may also find that flying and biting insects are active throughout the day. This is where applying a high-quality insect repellent which works is very important.

The more DEET the better?: This is simply not true. We have to be honest and say that, for a year or so, we believed that this was true - until we discovered leading Australian-made repellents. The Australian scientists behind the insect repellent brands which we have chosen to use ourselves, and supply to you, have dispelled the "more DEET the better" myth bandied about by most insect repellent manufacturers (usually for marketing purposes). Through extensive tests, it has been proven that the effectiveness of the insect repellent does not increase once the level of DEET rises above 20%. What does increase is how long the product lasts on the skin. A standard 20% DEET repellent will usually last 4 to 5 hours. A product with 80% DEET will last for 8 to 10 hours. With 40% DEET content, the slow-releasing actives in Bushman Ultra Insect Repellent Pump Spray provides easy-wearing protection for up to 5 hours (although Australian testing methods differ to EU testing, with the former showing 8 hours of protection). Avoid DEET products at high concentrations over 40% as the DEET may be corrosive to your precious camera gear and binoculars - and to your skin. The World Health Organisation and most medical authorities recommend that DEET products be below 50% as levels higher than this are known to cause skin irritation.

Kids & sensitive skin: DEET has been classified as safe by leading global health organisations and regulatory bodies. Although many reputable sources claim DEET is safe for use in children from two to six months old, we recommend use for children aged three and up for good measure, as they will then be able to communicate if any irritation occurs. Bushman Ultra Insect Repellent Pump Spray is safe for use by children.

Tsetse flies: We are very interested in the DEET vs tsetse fly debate. From our findings and independent tests in Ruaha National Park, Katavi National Park, Mana Pools National Park, and in Botswana (before tsetse flies were removed with DDT), RID™ Tropical Strength Roll-on was found to provide 100% protection against the tsetse flies in those areas for one hour after application. The roll-on was applied in copious amounts and re-applied after each hour. Again, these are not our findings, but the finding of guides, tour operators, and lodge managers in the areas listed. But - and there is a but - we have not tested RID™ in all areas of Africa, nor do we have control over how RID™ is applied and how often. Our research has shown that there are 25 species of tsetse fly in Africa and, of course, we have not tested RID™ against each of those species. Therefore, please do let us know if you have used RID™ in the following way and still been bitten by tsetse flies:

1. Applied RID™ Tropical Strength Roll-on in copious amounts;

2. Re-applied RID™ Tropical Strength Roll-on at least once every hour and, again, in copious amounts;

3. RID™ had not been removed from your skin by sweating or towelling down.

Our interest is sincere. The findings so far on RID™ have been very positive but, given the number of species and varying conditions, we have to be realistic and accept that RID™ may not work in all conditions and for all species. It would, perhaps, be fair to state that the only 100% protection from the tsetse fly would be to go on safari in a bee keeper's suit. Along with burning dung and using smoke pots in the Land Rover while on safari (neither of which provide 100% protection), this is simply not practical. As a result, our research into RID™ vs the tsetse fly continues. Please ensure that you do not pack dark blue or black clothing as these colours are thought to attract the flies and their bites are painful. The Rufiji™ clothing range is all the ideal colour and RID™ is the only repellent proven to work against these flies which carry sleeping sickness and have a painful bite. We have yet to test Bushman Repellent for its effectiveness against tsetse flies. Once we do, we will publish our findings for your information.

RID is no longer available, but we do now sell the best selling independent Australian repellent, called Bushman, which is available for our UK clients to use on safari.

Why do we recommend Australian-made repellents and what makes them so effective: The success of the top Australian-made insect repellents lies in the formula. With decades of providing protection to the Australian market, Bushman repellents were developed with the aim of producing the best possible, most effective insect repellents for unique Australian conditions. The result are products made from high-quality DEET which are also perfectly-suited to African, tropical, and outdoor travels.

For maximum protection: Combine Bushman with our BUGTech™ range of clothing.

A man wearing hiking shoes sitting in grass spraying insect repellent on his leg.

Protection from the sun:

Avoid sunburn: With mean high temperatures reaching mid 20 to mid 30 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 on your safari. Safaris involve outdoor activities almost by definition. Ensuring that you do not get burnt on the first few days after you arrive in Africa, which could make being in the sun not much fun for the rest of your safari, should be your top priority. Most of us travel to Africa for the sun - and so it makes sense to enjoy your time in the sun safely and with a good level of protection.

Pack a wide-brimmed hat: To prevent having your face and neck burnt by the sun during your safari activities you will need a wide-brimmed safari hat. Modern wide-brimmed hats are conveniently packable too and so do not lose their shape when you take them out of your luggage as the hats of yesteryear used to do.

Cover up in sun protective clothing: The best way to protect your skin from the sun is to cover up. In high temperatures, this requires lightweight, high-performance technical fabrics to remain cool and covered. SAFARITech BUGTech™ both have built-in UPF50+ sun protection - as does the Vintage Print Head&Neck Scarf. Apply and re-apply a reliable sunscreen regularly to exposed skin during the day.

Shop Wide-Brimmed Hats >

A woman wearing a wide-brimmed hat looks up at the sky.
The number one safari essential is a good pair of binoculars. We recommend Vortex Diamondback 10x42.

Other essential accessories:

Pack a good torch: While it is true that high-end safari lodges do have askaris to walk you back to your room at night, they are not always shining where you are walking. Packing a good torch is important for all safari as it increases your safety while in camp. Not only does a good torch mean that you will avoid standing on any reptiles, arachnids or insects at night when walking within the camp, but you will also be able to spot and avoid wildlife which may have wandered into the camp in the evenings as most camps are unfenced. That aside it is also great fun to use your torch to spot nocturnal wildlife from the safety and comfort of your room or from the lodge.

Take comfortable socks & good shoes which prevent blisters: 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 socks with a double layer for blister protection. Blisters, especially on longer walking safaris, could make for an uncomfortable time in the bush. Please bear in mind that the terrain in Africa is often uneven and may be hard and rocky too. If you anticipate that you will be walking in sand, we recommend shoes which will minimise the amount of sand which will go inside the shoe and which may also cause a blister. Again though, on foot is really the best way to see and experience the bush.

Binoculars: We rate binoculars as the most important safari accessory and so we have created a separate advice page for binoculars. Find out exactly what to pack by having a look at our safari clothing advice and safari luggage advice pages.

Shop Safari Torches >

A man holding a torch stands next to a smiling woman.