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Pack Light in Africa — What to Pack for Safari

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Knowing what to pack for your carefully planned safari can be a daunting experience. That is why our Africa specialist and safari guru, Peter, has created a list of things that you should and should not take the time to cram into your suitcase.

About the Author

About the Author

I have travelled around Tanzania a lot and love the wilderness of the safari areas. The animals roam freely across huge swathes of land.

AFRICA SPECIALIST

Georgie

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With airlines implementing ever restrictive weight limits and high prices for travelling anywhere with hold luggage, you’d think most of us are pretty adept at intelligently packing our bags before heading off on holiday. Well, what about 15kg (including hand luggage) and a bag size of little larger than a wash bag (soft-sided mind you). Panic? Panic!!

Let’s face it; 15kg is not much when you’re staring down the barrel of a two-week trip. But there’s really no need to start hyperventilating. Yes, you can always purchase extra seat space and excess luggage, but this normally comes at the price of another full seat and if you step back and think about it, in more cases than not, panic is pretty unnecessary.

What do you really need on safari? Let’s get the heavy stuff out of the way first:

1.        Binoculars – 8 or 10×42 will do most safari-goers perfectly well. If you don’t have any already, buy a pair on Amazon for about £100. They’ll be lightweight, waterproof and serve you well for years.

2.        Camera Equipment – often the heaviest single item in a packing list, big lenses and heavy camera bodies do take up weight. There aren’t many ways around this but it is worth bearing in mind that it’s increasingly easy to hire equipment relatively inexpensively when in Africa. More and more luxury lodges are offering equipment as standard. Without intending to offend, the best photos I’ve seen recently have been taken on an iphone.

3.        Toiletries – maybe I don’t get this, but every safari lodge, hotel, guest house I have stayed at in the past five years has locally made, organic/natural shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturizer. Sun cream you’ll need to bring along, but everyone has bug spray so ditch the Jungle Formula at home.
4.        Footwear – unless you are heading off on a multi-day walking adventure you really don’t need to be packing heavy walking boots. A comfortable pair of trainers will do perfectly for 99% of you. Flip-flops for when back at the lodge in the heat of the day and you’re good to go. If you’re planning on riding, most lodges have boots to use. Remember you can always ask us and we will advise based on the location, activities and time of year.

5.        Clothing – one of the many joys of travelling in Africa is the laundry service. You should aim to come back from your trip with a suitcase of hand-laundered, firmly pressed clean clothing. On most safaris your laundry is included in the cost, turn around times are 24 hours (max). So light layers, natural colours is the order of the day.

6.        Then it’s the usual – sunglasses, good hat, ipad/kindle, kikoi (look it up – endlessly useful as a towel, scarf, hat, padding for camera etc etc), cash, credit cards & passport!

If in doubt ask us, we’ve all had plenty of experience, we’ve made the common and less common mistakes, or certainly seen them. With a bit of guidance you wont be the one emptying your essentials into a black bin bag at Maun Airport while you’re fellow travellers look on (don’t ask…).

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