A safari is coming up and you would have to pack your things, but you just keep wondering what you should pack. Familiar situation? We’ve been there, too, and that’s why we created this great safari packing list to help you sort it out.
Packing for a safari can be an intimidating task if you don’t know what you’ll need and what you don’t. You could end up dragging things with you that you don’t need and forgetting to pack up something vital. We have learned to pack for the safari ”the hard way” – through trial and error. But so that you don’t need to do that, we decided to create these safari packing tips to help you out. No need to look for a complete safari packing list anymore!
Where Are You Heading?
Your essential items depend on a bit on where exactly you’re heading. If you’re going to South Africa, you will need a slightly different set of clothes and accessories than if you’re heading to the remote areas of Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tune this list accordingly, but we’ve tried to gather a good, basic list of clothing and accessories as a foundation for you to build on. So far we have been in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and the DRC, and we’ve gathered this list based on those adventures.
Necessary Safari Clothing
- Breathable Trousers (if the fabric is waterproof, the better)
- Shorts or Skorts (women know the latter; a skirt that has shorts under it – very practical!)
- Sport bras
- T-shirts (I prefer sports shirts, they have breathable fabric, and they dry fast)
- Blouses, long and short sleeved
- Good socks
- Fleece jacket(s)
- Good base layer (some breathable fabric, that dries fast and keeps you warm)
- Training pants (you never know when you’ll need those)
- Swimsuit (you may have pools on your lodges)
- Rain jacket
- Rain trousers
And if you’re heading somewhere where it will be cold (like climb a volcano and spend a night at the top, like we did in DRC), be sure to pack some long underwear and woollen cap to keep you warm when the temperature drops!
In addition to the normal trousers, I usually take one pair (or sometimes two, depending on the length of the trip) of army combat trousers. Those designed for hot/temperate climate, are almost unbeatable on their practicality; they have enough pockets, are made to endure extreme circumstances, and they’re comfortable to wear. What more could you ask for travel pants?!
What Shoes to Take?
It’s also a matter of choice, but we usually carry just three pairs: light trekking shoes, sandals, and barefoot shoes. If we’re about to do some serious trekking, I’d recommend taking the most comfortable shoes you own, which have some support for the ankle. If you don’t have one, I’d consider buying a pair of good, sturdy hiking shoes. Your feet will thank you after the 6-8 hour trek to the top of the mountain, for example. I recently got these HAIX Black Eagle Athletic 10 shoes (with Gore-Tex) and they have been unbeatable so far! HAIX makes shoes for the military and other professionals, so the quality is superb!
Essential Safari Accessories
These will also depend on how much you’re willing to carry around, but I would recommend going with only for the most necessary items for you. These are what we carry:
- Flashlight (we’ve had this Maglite for years)
- Swiss Army Knife (unbeatable; has all you need, really. We have this “Explorer” model)
- Waterproof rucksack (with carrying straps)
- Duct tape (repairs anything, don’t leave home without it!)
- Paracord string
- Sewing kit (a little one, pocket sized)
- A good backpack, like this one from Osprey or this from Tasmanian Tiger (we have those)
- Rain covers for your backpacks
- Camera insert for a backpack
- Gorilla pod for DSLR
- Lightweight travel tripod for DSLR (we use this MeFOTO RoadTrip, and it is awesome!)
- Portable solar charger (This can be a lifesaver! We have this Solar Monkey Adventurer, but there are lots of excellent choices.)
- A hat and/or a cap. I’d recommend something with a brim, for protection from the sun.
The list below is what you’ll find in our bags. However, this section depends wholly on your preferences. Others will always carry their laptop; we take it more lightly. But one item that everyone who is serious about photography should carry around is a portable hard drive to back up all your memory cards on the road, and a sturdy tripod.
- iPad (4.gen, 128 GB) with keyboard and charger or MacBook Pro 15″ Retina (mid-2015)
- iPhone 6
- GoPro Hero4, Silver Edition
(Handy with the built-in screen. We have the basic accessory kit with this great chest harness and this handy POV pole.)
- Audio recorder with basic accessories
(For recording interviews, sound scenes, quick notes, etc. We have the Zoom H2N; super-portable, with professional audio quality.)
(We carry Canon EOS D700 (body) and Olympus OM-D EM-5.)
- 2 Lenses (for Canon); Sigma 18-250mm DC MACRO OS HSM 3.5-5.6 and Canon EF 40mm IS
- Electrical adapter
- Batteries (AA)
- Portable hard drive. We use the WD My Passport Wireless (1 TB) with an SD card slot. It’s great!
As you’re going on a safari, you could consider renting a telephoto lens, if you don’t own one yourself. It’s heavy and bulky to carry around, but will give you quality photos. Just weigh the pros and cons, and don’t forget a good insurance if you decide to rent one. The other option is to get a good quality teleconverter for the lenses you already have.
There you have it. This set will get you far. But what you would pack on a safari? Have we forgotten something? Let us know – we’d love to know your survival sets!
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