A year ago I had just returned from an epic two week safari and was sharing dozens and dozens of animal pictures which looking back on them now sometimes I can not even believe that I took! On Instagram I shared a few throwback photos that Timehop had brought up fro me and a few people messages asking for suggestions on what to pack / bring on safari, thus my safari packing list.
There are so many things to consider when you are going on safari – including what country (South Africa’s climate is VERY different than that of Kenya or Tanzania on the equator), what time of year, and what you will be doing on safari. The first time I went in 2008 I packed completely wrong as I looked at the daily highs in Pinda National Park for our trip but what I did not realize is that most game drives (going out in an open-air jeep to see animals) is done and sunrise and sunset when the animals are the most active but also when it it is noticeably cooler.
However, after more than three weeks in the bush I have put together a combined list to pack (with input from family and friends, including one who lives on a reserve). Please see the list in alphabetical order and in terms of clothing my mom advises “pack in layers”:
- Ankle Boots (you can wear them on the drive and pair them with dresses or trousers for diner)
- Flip Flops
- Light Weight Jacket (I opted for my UNIQLO Women’s Ultra Light Down Puffer Jacket in Navy and it was perfect, you can see it above and below)
- Long Sleeve Tops (Lightweight and loose so flies don’t bite through in light colors)
- Long Pants (Preferably not black, navy or dark (depending on where you go on safari for the tsetse flies which are bad near the equator)
- Sneakers (Two pair or one hiking boots and one sneakers)
- Socks (2 more pairs than you think you need)
- Sweater / Cardigan
- Swim Suit
- T-Shirts (dry fit / ones that can be easily wash are key)
- Wind / Rain coat
- Workout attire
And for non clothing items on my safari packing list, again in alphabetical order:
- Backpack/day pack for the game drives
- Binoculars (if you have them)
- Bug spray
- Camera (with extra batteries, SD cards, and lenses)
- Cash (in local currency, do your research but you may need it on landing for the Visas, we did in Tanzania)
- Converter / Adapter (check the power outlet configuration where you are visiting)
- Credit Card with no foreign exchange fees
- First Aid (general like band aids and Pepto bismol tablets)
- iPad with movies downloaded (while many places have Wifi it is usually not strong enough to stream or download)
- Jewelry (I brought a lot of fun earrings to spice up even boring game-drive outfits)
- Snacks (mints, gum, lollipops, favorite protein bar etc.)
- Sunglasses (Multiple pairs, you will suffer without them)
- Sun Hat (Mom specifically suggest one with a strap under the chin but I was fine with a baseball hat)
- Suntan Lotion (for both face and body with a high SPF)
- Passport with visa(s) and copies of shots / vaccinations
- Toiletries (and bring a bit more of everything, there will be very limited places to buy things)
- Travel Umbrella
And some advice that has nothing to do with packing but in plan in advance and book your safari early – ideally over a year ahead of your travel date. plus start shots that are required 9 months ahead of time as many take two shots several months apart. Also, start any visa requirements early too.
Lastly, leave extra space in your bag or bring an extra bag – it is hard to pass up unique items on safari (especially handmade / hand carved ones) and you do not want space to be the reason you say no! And then it was actually harder to find pictures of what I actually wore to illustrate my safari packing list but take a look at the collection below – as you can see, a mix of day time casual wear and night time dresses!
If you have ever been on safari, what would you say is critical to pack?