What to Pack on Safari in Africa

Africa has always been a dream location of mine to visit so when I had the opportunity to go, I did whatever I could to make it happen. While I didn't go to Africa with the intention of going on safari, how could you not make the time to go on one while you are there? With the combination of a humanitarian trip and a safari, the packing was something I stressed out about. There are specific baggage allowances for your travel and it can make packing interesting. Here are my tips from my experience and what I would recommend for you to pack on safari in Africa.  I've even got a few items you should leave behind so you can be sure to bring all the essentials.

zebra in masai mara safari park

What to Pack on Safari in Africa

andbeyond safari jeef in masai mara

I spent several days on Safari in the Masai Mara while staying at the andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp. We spent the first part of our trip in Uganda and then flew to Nairobi, Kenya before taking a private safari transfer to the Masai Mara camp. 

Baggage Allowance for Safari

Because you will likely transfer on a small aircraft to your safari location, you will likely have restricted baggage allowance. This will differ on every airline that you travel, so make sure you look at the allowances for the specific airline you are flying. 

The baggage allowance is usually strictly limited to 15kg per person. All baggage must be soft sided. Rigid bags make it harder to stow in the limited luggage compartments. 

I ended up repacking everything I needed for the safari in a large backpack and leaving my other travel items in the secured complimentary storage office. A duffle bag like this or a backpack like this would be the perfect packing items for your safari.

Don't Forget these Items for Safari!

Passport and Travel Documents

You will likely need documentation of vaccination prior to entering the country as well as your passport and any other related travel docs.

Prescription Medication

When you visit your travel doc before your safari, they will likely prescribe some type of malaria pill to take while you are on safari and some type of anti-diarrheal just in case. Most malaria pill regimes need to be started before you land in country, so set a reminder en route to start taking them before you arrive.

Camera and Binoculars

The camera is a no brainer! No matter how amateur you are, you will feel like a National Geographic photographer on safari. Buy a camera if you don't already have one. You will thank me later. 

Most people don't think to bring binoculars. Pack some, but make sure they are a good pair. Quality matters. Most experts recommend getting something with a 10x magnification. This is a decent pair of binoculars for under $50.

masi warrior on safari in masai mara africa kenya

What Clothes Should I Pack for Safari?

If you are staying at your safari camp for an extended amount of time, you may feel limited by the baggage allowance. Don't worry. Most safari camps off same-day laundry service. You won't need to pack a change of clothes for every day you are on safari. 

We went on multiple game drives each day for several hours at a time. Most game drives are conducted in the early morning and in the late afternoon. We were in Kenya in August and I didn't pack enough warm clothing for the early morning drives. The game trucks are open {this will vary by safari location} so the wind whipping on the drives was chilly.

The safari trucks did come equipped with rain ponchos and blankets for inclement weather, but it's always best to be prepared.

I'd suggest packing layers. Muted colors are best {khaki, green, beige} so you blend in on your game drives.

layered clothing items for african safari

1. Shorts

I like these linen shorts because they are so versitle. They are perfect for the afternoon back at camp or once the day heats up a bit.

2. Trail or Safari Pants

I brought pants that were similar to these that had UPF 50 built in. You want a pair of pants are versatile. Mine rolled up at the bottom and turned into capri pants. Some safari pants will zip off altogether and become shorts. 

I'd also recommend a pair of loose linen joggers. These are perfect for layering and great of wearing on long travel days but also while you are sitting on long game drives. 

3. Long-sleeved shirt

I packed something similar to this that had sleeves that could easily be rolled down if it was cold and rolled up when it got warmer. Bonus points if you find something with built-in mosquito repellent. If you want to go with something more stylish, a tunic like this would be perfect. Or this shirt is another great layer option. 

4. Lightweight Jacket or Sweatshirt

I packed a lightweight jacket that had built-in mosquito repellent. Mosquitos are most active in the early morning and at dusk, right about the same time you will be on your game drives. A light cargo jacket like this one will give you the protection you need and the warmth you want without taking up a lot of packing space.

5. Light Scarf

This isn't essential, but I ended up buying one from the resort gift shop. It made such a huge difference to have. This is a great one, with lots of neutral colors to pick from. 

6. Hat

Don't go all Out of Africa movie set on me, something that will shade your face and not fly off if you are chasing after a pack of lions will do. Something like this will do.

7. T-shirts you can layer

This tee can be layered underneath your long-sleeved shirt and then worn plain when the weather warms up. Or pack a few tank tops you can layer under those long-sleeved shirts for when the weather warms up.

8. Swimwear

One of my favorite moments that happened when I was on safari happened while I was sitting by the pool. I was reading and looked up to see a warthog kneeling down drinking out of the pool. Most tent camps or resorts have a pool. Africa is a modest continent, so I'd advise women to stick with one-piece swimwear like this.

9. Underwear

These quick dry undies claim that you will only ever need to bring two for any trip. My husband always tells me my underwear doesn't take up much space, but when you pack for a lot of days, it does and I'd like to make room for other items thankyouverymuch.

10. Casual Dress for dinner

You will probably want to wear something dressier for dinner than what you wore on safari. A casual dress like this would be perfect. Plan for colder weather at night, so if you can roll down the sleeves, or have a longer skirt on the dress, even better. 

11. Shoes

You may be planning a walking safari and there may be special recommendations for that. You might want a closed-toe shoe for that. I got away with a casual sandal just fine. Something like this would be versatile to wear with a dress for dinner or with your safari pants during a drive. Or you can opt for a boot like this

african safari in kenya masai mara andbeyond

Don't forget!

Sunscreen, mosquito repellent and lip balm. You can probably pick any and all of these up at the resort shop, but if you have a favorite from home, make sure you pack it. 

I honestly never found mosquitos to be an issue. I even forgot to spray the repellent on several occasions and didn't end up with a single bite. Though many will advise you to wear socks and cover your whole body exposing as little skin as possible to avoid getting bitten, I'd say use caution, but don't go overboard. It's a worry I had that didn't amount to a whole lot.

This is the mosquito repellent I bought and brought with me and I will never go back to the other stuff.

**You might also want to pack some hand sanitizer and some kleenex or toilet paper on the go. Regardless of how fancy-schmancy your tent camp is, you will likely have to visit the bush toilet once or twice on your game drive. Be prepared!

giraffes in kenya masa mara national park

Leave These Items Behind!

Stay away from any camouflage printed items. The African authorities tend to have a phobia about these combat-styled items and it may open you up to questioning from the authorities and some unwanted grief, so steer clear. 

I don't have a lot of personal jewelry that is expensive, but when I travel, especially internationally, I tend to leave my diamond wedding ring behind for a simple wedding band my husband made me. Safaris are casual and comfortable so leave behind anything that might be flashy or over the top. It will help you rest easy knowing you don't have anything expensive you have to keep track of.

safari jeep in kenya masai mara

Safari is one of life's greatest experiences. Every moment felt surreal and I will never forget my time on in the African Savannah. 

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