SAFARI LUGGAGE PACKING ADVICE: What luggage should I take on safari?

We answer your safari luggage questions on what to pack your safari clothing and gear into for your safari. You will learn why 'soft' and 'squashable' are the keys to ensuring that your luggage is safari-suitable.

The majority of safari lodges are located in remote areas, with access only by light aircraft and not by airliners. This, in part, dictates the luggage to pack for your safari.

Pack your safari clothing and gear into a bag which is soft and squashable. This is especially true for safari travel to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya, 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 (such as the Skeleton Coast Safaris' Cessna 210 seen at left). 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 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.

Therefore, we recommend that you take one larger safari canvas and leather holdall (around 70x30x30cm in size when full) and one smaller carry-on type bag to use when you travel and to take your binoculars and accessories on game drives and walks. For safaris with a daily walking element, we recommend that you take the holdall plus a small bag such as our Mara&Meru™ Selous Bag which you are able to use as a satchel or backpack and which attaches to your belt to carry your binoculars, compact camera or smartphone, and your safari accessories. When attached to your belt, this will leave your hands free to use your binoculars or camera and to push a thorny branch out of the way, drink water, or lift yourself up a rocky outcrop. Being 'hands-free' really does make a difference to your enjoyment of the walk.

Safari charter flights require soft-sided luggage
View basket