Planning an African safari is incredibly exciting and with Red Savannah’s tips need not be a daunting prospect. For many people, taking in the sights and sounds of the African savannah is a once in a lifetime opportunity, certainly one which you don’t want to spoil by being unprepared.
Packing for your trip is going to be somewhat of a challenge in itself. If you go about your packing trying to cover every ‘what if’ eventuality, you’re going to end up with an ungodly amount of luggage to carry, which is only going to spoil your adventure. It is far better to take the time to research what clothes, healthcare and gadgets are the best at covering all bases, and leave yourself travelling light so you can enjoy your expedition.
Here are 10 essential items to start you off, which will see you through all manner of adventures on your African safari holiday.
Lightweight, light coloured clothing
Some safari operators will insist on you wearing safari colours such as khaki or olive, but anything fairly toned down and neutral will do. Choose lightweight shorts and shirts that can roll down easily into your luggage. Some brands offer lightweight, sun protective shorts with attachable legs for colder night safaris.
A wide brimmed, crushable hat
The brim is a lifesaver when you’re squinting into the distance with the sun in your eyes, but avoid rigid safari type hats as they simply take up too much room.
Over the course of a day sunglasses will come off and go back on, it is all too easy to lose them or crunch them underfoot in the dark at camp. They are pretty hard to come by in Africa, even in the towns, so take a spare pair or two so you don’t have to go without. If you have enough room in your luggage, consider also taking a protective case for your glasses too.
A warm jacket in a stuff sack
Days on the plains are blisteringly hot, but during the night the temperature can plummet. Take a warm jacket that can be reduced down into a stuff sack as you’ll need it at the cooler ends of the day.
There is nothing worse than being made to share binoculars with other people on the safari, or simply not being able to see what everyone else is pointing at. Invest in a really good pair and keep them glued to your side so you can make the most of the sights on the plains.
You don’t want to pack the entire bathroom cabinet, but there are a few things you shouldn’t leave home without. Antihistamines for treating mosquito bites are a must have, as are painkillers to chase off any unwanted headaches. You’ll need to talk to your doctor about any anti-malarial tablets or other vaccinations you might need too.
The sun in Africa is incredibly strong, so don’t underestimate the factor of protection you’ll need for your skin. Complete coverage is recommended so go for a high factor adult cream.
A Water Bottle
You’ll need plenty of drinking water for your long days in the intense heat. Consider taking an electrolyte solution to add to the water too, as this can replace salts lost through sweating, helping you to feel balanced all day long.
In addition to your camera don’t forget to take a charger (and adapter if necessary) as well as extra batteries and memory cards.
Having a good guide book about the flora and fauna of the African savannah will not only afford you a greater depth of understanding whilst out in the field, it will also give you something to pass the time when you are back at camp for the night.
Packing some clothes you don’t mind leaving behind is a great way to free up space for souvenirs as you go. African families in remote villages will be delighted to be offered them, and in bigger towns there is usually a Red Cross donation point where you can drop off your items. Your safari tour operator will no doubt have a weight limit for your luggage anyway; with most this is around 15 – 20kg. Check this out first and invest in some simple hand weigh scales so you can make sure you are not over the limit before you leave.