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What to Take on your African Safari


A Very Good Idea

Due to recent travel restrictions on international flights, most liquids (make-up, shampoos, hair gels, etc.) can no longer be packed inside your carry-on bag.  Please check your individual airline carrier for their guidelines.  They will allow you to take a few small items... which must be visible in a small plastic bag when you go through security.  It is a good idea to take the following items in your carry-on bag:

  • One change of clothes (including underwear) in case your luggage gets lost.

  • One pair of socks and tennis shoes...depending on what type of shoes you are already wearing.

  • Camera and film.  A digital camera is great because the memory cards can withstand the x-ray machines.  Film cannot.  If you do take film, store it in a lead bag (which you can purchase at any camera shop).

  • All of your important medicines (including malaria medicine).

  • Any other valuables that you may have.

  • Spare glasses.

  • Passport, Certificate of Vaccination, airline and safari itinerary, traveler’s checks, and cash.

  • Put one copy of your passport in your carry-on bag and the other copy in your checked-in luggage.

  • A good book (preferably about Africa)!   


  • Passport and visas

  • Airline Itinerary

  • International vaccination card/Health Certificate

  • Traveler’s Checks and credit card

  • U.S. dollars – (small bills are best )

  • Two copies of passport and extra set of passport photos.

  • Driver’s license or other ID

A camera and binoculars are a must.  Camera film and batteries can generally be obtained in any major city or town; however, the farther away you get from civilization, the likelihood of availability decreases – like everything else.  So, please be sure to have sufficient supplies for your needs prior to embarking on your safari in the African bush.

What to Wear

  • Layers are most practical for the fluctuating day/night temperatures of Africa.  Dull and/or neutral colors are more suitable for safari.

  • Cotton clothing is recommended.  It is best to pack hardy, durable clothing. Leave the silks at home.

  • Light cotton tops and cotton trousers

  • Shorts are okay...but not too short (a few inches above the knees for ladies)   

  • Cotton long-sleeved blouses/shirts for early morning game drives and evenings   

  • Short-sleeved blouses/T-shirts

  • Jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days

  • Khaki, brown, gray, tan, and olive colors – for game drives and hikes

  • White, or any bright color, is not a suitable color for most game viewing or hiking safaris.  First, it increases your visibility quotient to the animals you are viewing, and secondly, it will get dirty very quickly. 

  • Lightweight Jacket and/or warm sweater or windbreaker for early morning and evening wear, as required – particularly when staying at higher/cooler elevations. Adding or removing layers of clothing, as needed, is the most efficient and convenient way of regulating comfort.

  • Comfortable walking shoes or sturdy hiking boots.  Sneakers are okay, but not on hikes. 

  • Plenty of socks and underwear

  • Preferred sleepwear

  • Flip flops for walking around your room or tent

  • Swimsuit and cover-up

  • Wide brim hat (safari hat) for sun protection (with neck strap) 

  • Several scarves or bandanas

Minding your Health

  • Malaria tablets – You will still need to cover up at night.

  • Antibiotics (even if you don’t use them, they are good to have just in case).

  • Chapstick – The plains are dusty and dry...without it, your lips might look and feel like the terrain you cross while on safari.

  • Small first aid kit

  • Tweezers and nail clippers

  • Headache/allergy medicine – Squinting, the sun, and bumpy jeep rides through the plains can all contribute to a pounding headache.  It’s best to come prepared.

  • Rolaids

  • Immodium AD or Pepto-Bismol chewables – Need I say more?

  • Neosporin or other antiseptic cream

  • Band-aids

  • Eye drops, if needed

  • Thermometer

  • Calamine or other anti-itch cream

  • Athlete’s foot medicine

  • Handi-wipes


  • Deodorant

  • Hand and body lotion (Vaseline Intensive Care is great!)

  • Vaseline

  • Face moisturizer

  • Hair products (shampoo and conditioner) ; brush and comb

  • Feminine products

  • Toothpaste and 2 toothbrushes (in case you leave one behind)

  • Make-up

  • Plastic containers for shampoo, conditioner, and lotions (much lighter to take than in their original containers).

  • Hair rollers, if needed

  • Safety pins, rubber bands, and bobby pins

  • Extra pair of glasses with croakies or neck lanyard


  • Razor and shaving cream

  • Deodorant

  • Comb

  • Anything else guys need

Accessories and Toiletries

  • A small halogen flashlight with extra batteries – Don’t be caught without a torch (flashlight) when you hear something outside your tent (but, cannot go outside your tent at night!).  Note:  Although most tented camps and lodges provide a torch, it is best to take your own.

  • Sunscreen lotion – The sun is intense in Africa.  Even if you tan easily, take precautions.

  • Q-tips

  • Insect repellent – that contains DEET (25% or 32%) 

  • Your own brand of shampoo and soap – After a dusty day of game drives, the familiar scents of your own products is great!

  • Sunblock, sunglasses, hat, moisturizer, chapstick...these are essential! The African sun is harsh most of the year.

  • Don’t forget bandanas or scarves – extremely valuable if you are caught in a dust storm.

  • Miniature travel alarm clock.

Extras that Come in Handy

  • Money belt – To conceal money and passport.

  • Fanny pack or waist pouch for game drives.

  • Swahili phrase book.

  • Journal or diary (you think you will remember everything, but you won’t.  It is best to write it down as you go along). 

  • Small set of scissors (don’t forget to pack in checked luggage on long flights...not in your carry-on).

  • An empty duffel bag packed inside suitcase (for those extra souvenirs).

  • Ink pens.

  • Small address book.

  • Spare batteries for everything.

  • Anti-bacterial gel or wipes.

  • Safety pins.

  • Ziplock bags for everything – film, wet clothing, you name it.  This is one of the most valuable things you can take on safari.  Before leaving for Africa, put anything that might leak into a zip-lock bag.  Small bags are great for hair spray, lotion, shampoo, make-up, toothpaste.  Larger zip-lock bags are great for camera gear or anything you don’t want to get dusty.

You’ll Kick Yourself for Forgetting

  • Binoculars

  • Adapter plug

  • Padlocks and locks

  • Extra batteries

  • Bug spray

  • Sunglasses

  • Photographic equipment (film, comfortable neck strap, waterproof camera bag, lens tissues, extra batteries, labels for film containers, etc.)

Other Things to Take

  • Pens and baseball caps – you can use these to bargain with when purchasing souvenirs

  • Garlic tablets – A great, natural weapon against mosquitoes.  Don’t worry, you won’t smell like garlic; it just makes your blood less desirable to their taste!

  • A mini tape recorder – if you don’t have a video camera, this could provide a great audio diary.  Capture the roar of the lions, the grunts of the hippos, and the beautiful bird symphony right outside your tent. 

  • Small packages of Kleenex to keep inside your camera bag or purse.  They really come in handy!



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