Reasons to Go
Going on Safari? Pack These 10 Must-Haves
Embarking on a safari in Africa is among the most epic experiences a traveller will have, and it’s natural to want to arrive prepared — and maybe over-prepare in the process.
“It’s easy to spot first-timers and tourists,” admits Suzanne Teng, A&K’s Africa product manager. “They’re decked out in all the gear. The thing is, you really don’t need that much — you can probably find a lot of what you need in your closet.”
Suzanne and other A&K experts narrowed down the list to these 10 must-haves for any African safari.
Cotton or hybrid short-sleeve shirts
Bring a few that are light and breathable, as well as a protective, long-sleeve sun shirt. Temperatures fluctuate over the course of the day, so when planning your safari wardrobe, think layers. One more addition for the ladies: those dirt roads are bumpy, so take it from the pros and pack a sports bra — you’ll be happy you did.
Jeans and slacks made from hard fabrics aren’t ideal due to their weight and lack of movement. Instead, choose convertible and windbreaker-type pants that give you room to move. Yoga and “dance” pants are added options for women.
A wide-brimmed hat
You’ll want this protection from the sun, which beats down from all angles as the day wears on. Choose something with a chin strap to keep your hat from flying off of your head when you’re driving in an open-air vehicle.
Keep in mind that safari vehicles often ramble off-road and along dirt paths, so you’ll also want a pair of closed-toe shoes that you don’t mind getting dusty. And while you might want a pair of flip-flops to slip on during your down time, they’re not a practical option in most cases since biting insects are plentiful. Leave your boots at home; they won’t do you any good in a safari vehicle and they’ll eat away at your weight limit.
Of course, you’re bringing your camera, but consider packing binoculars or a spotting scope as well for observing distant game.
Africa has some of the world’s most magnificent wildlife; unfortunately, it has its share of mosquitoes and biting flies, too, so bring insect repellent with a high concentration of DEET.
A pocket-size LED flashlight is handy for when the sun goes down, especially if your safari includes a guided night game drive.
Warm layers for cooler temps
If you’ll be on safari during winter months (mid-May through early September), pack a heavy sweater, gloves, warmer slacks and a lined jacket. This will keep you comfortable on chilly mornings, when temperatures often dip into the low 40s Fahrenheit. A down sweater or jacket also comes in handy; it’s lightweight but warm and it won’t take up a lot of space. Depending on where your itinerary takes you, smart casual attire is appropriate for big city and resort dining establishments.
A soft-sided duffel
Because flights to remote locations pose weight limits and most safari camps include laundry service, the most important rule is this: Don’t over-pack. Luggage restrictions are strictly adhered to, and soft-sided luggage or duffels are required for storage on safari vehicles and light aircraft. To that end, here’s some good news: A&K gives each safari guest a custom-designed duffel bag that’s designed to meet every standard (count it among the many benefits guests get to enjoy on A&K safaris). All that’s left to do is to make sure your carryon is small enough to fit beneath your seat.
When selecting your gear and clothing, keep in mind that there’s a reason safari-goers traditionally wear khaki: Bright colors or white (which make you stand out against the typical African background) can frighten animals and send them into hiding, while dark blues, blacks and browns attract insects. Additionally, leave your camouflage gear at home — it’s illegal for civilians in many African countries. So, when raiding your closet for your trip, go for khaki, olive, gray and light brown.