Perhaps you already know the importance of knowing the essential items to pack for your safari adventure.
Well, we’re not going to advise you on undergarments but we have put together a list of the Top 10 Essential Items to Pack for your Safari. These recommendations come from decades of safari experience, from the experts who guide them and the clients who ride them. Take a look:
1 – Favorite shoes. Sturdy shoes are important for safari, but don’t sacrifice comfort just because you think overbuilt commando boots are necessary. They’re not. Your favorite hiking shoes or active footwear will work just fine.
2 – Shawl/sarong. This might be the most undervalued but over-appreciated article of clothing to have on safari. On crisp mornings, my shawl turned into a scarf. At midday, it helped with shade and dust. A sarong or shawl is an all-purpose addition to your packing list that will come in handy in approximately 50,000 different ways. I promise.
3 – Clothing: Colors, Wind, and Warmth. For clothing, choose lightweight, moisture-wicking materials, and think natural colors (olive, tan, etc.) that won’t distract wildlife or attract tsetse flies (bugs love bright colors!) Also, you may be imagining safari like this: hot and dry, from dawn until dusk. This isn’t the case. Early morning and late afternoon game drives are some of the best times for wildlife viewing, and it’s not uncommon for these times to be a little chilly. Don’t forget to pack a warm, lightweight jacket, raincoat, and windbreaker (think open-air 4WD safari vehicle!)
4 – Binoculars. Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Tarangire—these are vast landscapes teeming with more world-class wildlife than you can imagine, and its drama can sometimes unfold at a distance. Even when that pride of lions is disemboweling a wildebeest next to your safari vehicle, a pair of binoculars can really heighten the experience—to witness those razor-sharp teeth, the eyes, the texture. Not every tour operator supplies binoculars so pick up a modest pair before you go.
5 – Functional bags. While on safari, having the ability to access your things quickly is critical (“I see a cheetah! Quick, hand me the binoculars from my bag!”). Choose a combination of a trusted daypack and a larger, weather-resistant bag that can withstand the elements and constant packing/unpacking.
6 – Camera extras. Batteries, memory cards, plug converters, lens cleaners—better to gather these before you arrive as they might be hard to find in country. Who wants to spend precious safari time trying to find the right plug-in adapter, anyway?
7 – Headlamp. With early morning game drives and relaxing evenings at your bush accommodations, it’s always helpful to have a reliable source of light. I find headlamps to be the most convenient option because they enable you to be hands-free as you rifle through your bag for that windbreaker, bird guide, or snack. They’re cheap, minimal, and incredibly handy, too.
8 – Sunscreen. This is the thing about safaris: once you’ve become immersed in this landscape, you’ll want to seize every waking moment—it’s just too big and beautiful not to. But that means long days, and long days mean several hours in the elements at a time. Strong sunscreen is an absolute must.
9 – Polarized sunglasses. After sunscreen, the most utilized item for sun protection comes sunglasses (polarized if possible, to help with reflection). Beyond the vehicles, there is little shade, and Tanzanian sun can be intense. Don’t leave home without a pair (or two).
10 – First aid kit. Bites and scrapes and dehydration aren’t uncommon, so the more you can prepare for and respond to these minor annoyances, the better. You don’t have to bring the entire pharmacy along but a simple baggie filled with anti-diarrheal tabs, headache medicine, small bandages, antiseptic wipes and antihistamines will do. Oh, and hand sanitizer. Pure gold.