Before any adventure in the African bush, you have to let go of some baggage. Weight limits on light-aircraft charters vary, but 33 pounds is probably the max. Packing light for safari is the key.
Remember, you’ll need to pack in soft luggage—we recommend this Eagle Creek soft-sided medium duffel—so no hard suitcases. If your trip includes a pre-safari stay in, say Johannesburg, pack your duffel bag inside your regular suitcase, then leave the larger one at the hotel. You can retrieve it after your safari or have the concierge forward it to your final destination. Below, you’ll find our top tips for your safari packing list.
Think layers. Temperatures can vary greatly on safari. Days might be blazing hot, while nights can be downright chilly. Definitely bring a lightweight down jacket, preferably one that compresses into an internal pocket or stuff sack.
Choose neutral colors. Safari is a time when it’s okay to blend in; bright colors are too loud, and dark are too hot in the high sun (and attract tsetse flies). Avoid camouflage, which can cause unwanted drama at border crossings (in some countries, it is illegal for citizens to wear it).
Pack with a purpose. Consider packing some clothing you don’t mind leaving behind for communities in need. You’ll free up space for souvenirs—and your donation is most appreciated.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Sunglasses are essential in Africa, so bring an extra pair just in case. Be sure to include extra contact lenses and eye drops on your safari packing list.
Be camera ready. You don’t want to miss that perfect wildlife shot because your memory card is full. Pack at least one extra camera battery and a few eight-plus-gig memory cards.
Take a journal. Even if it’s a pocketsize spiral notebook, you’ll want to remember all of the sights and sounds, every surprise and suspenseful moment.
Bring small gifts. Nothing expensive, just little trinkets, perhaps candies or school supplies for the kids. A big plus: Take a Polaroid camera and leave some photos behind. The villagers love them!
More of a visual person? Check out our infographic!