Just because you’re heading out into the wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t look stylish doing it! If you’re lucky enough to be heading off for the African safari of a lifetime, you’re probably a bit unsure of what you’re going to need to pack, especially if it’s your first time in Africa. Well fear not, because we’ve put together the ultimate checklist of every item you’ll need to take along to be prepared for anything – and even turn a few heads in the process.
Prepare in advance:
Check with your travel agent or with the tourist board of the country you’ll be visiting that you have all the relevant and up to date information well before you leave. This includes what visa you’ll need and how to get it, what documents you’ll need to present upon arrival (many countries will require proof that you’ve booked accommodation and a return flight, for example) and what currencies your lodge or resort will accept.
Don’t blindly trust what you’ve read on a tourist website, as it can very easily be out of date. Make spare hard copies of all your documents and have them ready to pack on the day you leave, and make sure you have scanned or photographed copies safe in the Cloud too.
Get up to date on all your vaccinations, and start taking your malaria prevention pills a week before you depart if the region you’ll be visiting falls in a malaria area. With that out of the way, the fun packing can begin!
You think Africa, and you immediately think khaki and tan hues – but have you ever wondered why? Most diurnal animals like antelope, elephant, zebras and other prey animals have excellent color vision, so bright colors stick out to them as much as they do to us. Because these animals are also naturally shy and nervous (and wouldn’t you be if you shared your home with lions and leopards?) your best chance of getting close is to blend into the surroundings.
It’s all about layering
Everyone knows that Africa gets really, really hot, but the temperature can drop quite quickly once the sun starts to go down. By the same token, early morning game drives present a wonderful chance of spotting the more nocturnal creatures before they hide out for the day, but they’re chilly!
You really don’t want to make the mistake of wearing heavy clothing in the morning, and then getting caught out once the sun has come out and it’s become baking hot again. Wear lots of layers that you can put on and take off easily, and you’re all set – and you’ll look pretty on trend too! If you want to wear shorts during the day, take a comfortable blanket to put over your legs if you need it. Sunscreen, a comfortable hat, and a cool pair of shades also go a long way. Make sure to take some comfortable long casual pants that you can wear at night around camp, and a few comfy items to wear while you’re traveling to and from the lodge.
If you’re going to be taking part in a walking safari, closed toe shoes and long pants (jeans work just fine) are a must, or you’ll end up with scratches and bites that can really put a damper on your style!
A really snazzy brand new camera is all well and good, but it’s not going to serve you well if you haven’t had time to figure out how it works yet! Rather take a camera that you know and love and have a feel for. To be honest, unless you have a pretty exceptional zoom function, animals in the bush always seem to come out looking tiny on safari shots, so make sure you take time to enjoy the firsthand experience and take photos second.
That said, GoPro cameras tend to work really well for action shots, and they give you that trendy traveler look too! Make sure to pack spare batteries, chargers and a spare SD card. If you enjoy reading before bed, a Kindle or ebook reader is a good investment because it saves you so much packing space. A small pair of lightweight binoculars is a great accessory to take along on game drives, especially if you’re a keen birder.
An easy to access day bag is a must for keeping your camera at the ready, taking along some drinking water, your sunscreen, and all your other odds and ends. Padded bags, waterproof varieties and backpacks all work well, so pick whatever fits your style.
Last but not least, have a chat with the lodge admin staff and see if they have any specific suggestions for you. Now with all that sorted, it’s time to enjoy your African safari in style!