Some hot tips on what to bring with you
How do you pack the perfect safari bag? Packing can be one of the biggest headaches when going on an African safari, especially when you are a first-time visitor to Africa… So let’s try and take some of the strain (and pain) out of the process and give you some sterling advice on your safari “look”!
Get the right bag!
Choosing a lightweight yet hardy travel bag that can easily survive the rigours of air travel is the key to successful packing. Get the bag right, and the rest falls nicely into place.
We generally recommend duffel bags as the shape of choice. They’re practical and easy to carry and offer a good space-to-weight ratio. When you travel with us to South Africa’s Greater Kruger, you’ll be travelling on scheduled aircraft with a normal 20kg weight allowance or in your own, self-drive vehicle.
But if you do a circuit with us and fly into Mankwe Tented Camp in Botswana, for example, you’ll most likely be on a small plan with a more limited capacity for luggage and a lighter weight limit, so it’s always best to pack as lightly, and cleverly as possible! So it’s best to know how much your chosen bag weighs empty and build your packing list from there.
What to pack
Once you have your bag it’s time to put stuff in it! When it comes to clothing there are some easy guidelines to follow…
You can get clothes washed: Our lodges and camps all offer laundry services, which allows you to recycle your clothing effortlessly if you are staying for more than two nights.
Muted colours: When it comes to clothing, let’s start with colours… Opt for neutral, earth tones like khaki, beige, brown and grey as these blend in effortlessly when you’re out on an open safari vehicle. You can add in some muted blues and pastels but try to stay away from white as much as possible, even though it looks amazing it makes you stand out while on game activities.
Avoid dark colours because they absorb the heat, which in summer can be rather on the warm side!
Seasons: In Southern Africa, the seasons are the opposite of the northern hemisphere. Spring runs from September to November, summer from December to February, autumn from March to May and winter from June to August.
Autumn and winter, as well as the start of spring, are the driest months, with the annual rains arriving usually around October and November. This is when the heat builds up. Once the rains arrive, it gets hot and humid, with spectacular storms that have to be seen to be believed!
In winter the early mornings and evenings are cold. So you’re going to need protection on game activities in the form of a beanie-style hat, gloves and a scarf, as well as a lightweight fleece or puffer-style jacket, long pants and closed shoes or boots.
Layer it up: The mix-and-match, the layered approach really works. Choose items of clothing that offer a variety of outfits and that can be easily layered to add warmth where necessary. Even in the peak of summer, it can get chilly in the early mornings, so make sure you have a lightweight sweater or jacket on hand. Long-sleeved shirts are also a great idea as they offer protection from the sun and biting insects too, and add warmth under a top layer.
Here’s a rough guide of clothing items to include in your packing list:
Any time of year:
- Three of four tee-shirts
- A couple of long-sleeved shirts
- Two or three pairs of shorts and/or cargo pants
- Two pairs of long pants
- A lightweight wind-breaker or weatherproof jacket
- A couple of lightweight sweaters
- Closed walking shoes
- Rugged sandals/open walking shoes
- Lightweight fleece or puffer jacket
- Beanie hat, scarf and gloves
- Thermal undergarments
- Warm socks
- Walking boots
Cosmetics, toiletries and personal items: Keep your toiletries bag to a minimum by using small containers that will provide enough shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, etc, for your trip, rather than big bottles. You’ll need sunscreen and a good moisturiser as well as any medicines you will need during your trip. It’s always a good idea to make copies of any prescriptions just in case you are asked about any scheduled medicines you may have.
Getting it in the bag…
Everyone has their own way of packing, but there are some universal hacks that are perfect for getting your gear into your safari bag with room to spare.
First of all – it’s a good idea to lay out everything you want to pack on a flat surface like a dining table or your bed and have a good, hard look at it. Ask yourself if you absolutely need every single thing you have earmarked for packing and do a last-minute “purge” of unnecessary items.
Then it’s time to start packing. You can put shoes in plastic Ziploc-style bags (or recycled shopping bags) to keep them separate from clothing. It’s up to you how you fold your clothing. We love rolling items as it helps with space and also reduces creasing to a minimum.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to either double bag or wrap your toiletries bag in a recycled shopping bag to prevent any possible chance of leakages. Remember that baggage handlers don’t always treat bags with the respect they deserve!
Camera gear and other essentials
Try to find carry-on bags that are practical, spacious and easy to carry, with easy-to-access compartments for your travel documents, devices and personal items. Backpacks can be a good option in this regard and are great for taking on game activities with essentials like additional clothing/jackets, water bottles, hats etc.
Don’t forget your camera, and a good pair of binoculars is always a good idea!
While we do have international plug adaptors, it’s always sensible to pack your own, and all the charging gear you need for cameras and your digital devices/smartphones.
If there’s anything you’re not sure of, we’re always on hand to answer questions and help solve problems, so just pick up the phone or drop us an email.