African Safari Packing Guide For First Timers
It can be intimidating knowing what to pack for your first luxury African Safari because, well, it’s Africa. Do you take everything including the kitchen sink, or do you take nothing and expect them to have it all for you?
What the lodge provides varies from place to place but most of them follow the same conventions. Below is our short list of what to take with you on the safari.
Luxury African Safari Packing List
One of the best times for game viewing is the winter months, however, summer is perfect if you can hack the heat.
Either way, we recommend taking clothing suitable for both seasons as the bush can be hot during the day and cold at night.
Pants: It doesn’t matter if you travel in summer or winter, take both long pants and shorts. Long pants are good for game drives as you usually depart before sunrise on the morning drive. It can be quite fresh. Short pants are good for down time between your morning and afternoon drives.
Shirts: Take a combination of long, and short, sleeve shirts. The reason is the same as for your pants. There is no need to go formal button up, black tie, type of clothing. We have been to many lodges and “bush casual” is more than sufficient.
Bush casual can best be described as no bright colours, stick to earth tones. Cargo pants, t-shirts or golf shirts, sneakers or hiking boots and even flip flops.
Shoes: This depends on the type of activities you will do on your luxury safari. Many places offer bush walks and for this I would recommend hiking boots. If you’re only going to take the morning and evening game drives then sneakers and flip flops will be more than enough. Sneakers being optional, although in the colder months you’ll be grateful for them.
Jacket: Come rain or shine, summer or winter, take a wind and water resistant jacket. Most lodges are very good at providing blankets and ponchos on the vehicles but even so, you may regret not having a jacket. I’ve been caught out a few times on the back of a vehicle with nothing but a t-shirt, and it wasn’t fun!
Hat: A cap will be fine although a full brimmed hat is much better. The African sun can be harsh and it’s good to protect your head and face when outside, especially in the warmer months.
This one depends entirely on you. I’ve seen people on safari with nothing but a cellphone and I’ve seen people with gear worth tens of thousands of dollars and everything in between.
If you are taking camera equipment I recommend a good body and at least two lenses. A wide angle for scenery and sunsets. A telephoto, or zoom, lens for the wildlife.
I do recommend a laptop or tablet that you can download your pictures too. If the sightings are good, you can easily take hundreds of pictures on a game drive.
Sun Block: Never, ever forget your sun block! The highest SPF you can, especially in warm months. If you’re lucky the lodge will have for you, but this isn’t always the case. Recently when we visited Rhulani Safari Lodge we did so without sun block. We were able to borrow some from the lodge but not before it was too late and we were walking around like lobsters.
Mosquito Repellent: Most African safari lodges we’ve been to have had this in the room for us, but it never hurts to have your own. Especially if you are traveling to a malaria area. Our mosquitoes are brutal in the rainy season.
Malaria Medication: Speaking of mosquitoes, if you are going to a malaria area it is best to speak to your local doctor for some malaria medication. You can inquire with the lodge what their recommendation is.
Local Currency: It is typical convention to tip your guide and the lodge staff when you leave and for this I always carry some cash. Some lodges will accept foreign currency, however, it’s best to have local currency. The norm these days appears to be $10 per day, per person in your party, for your field guide. About the same amount for housekeeping and other lodge staff.
That’s about it for our essential African safari packing guide. With these things packed you are ready to set out on an exciting adventure and experience some of Africa’s true beauty.
Is there anything I haven’t mentioned that you would include when going on an African safari?