Knowing what to pack for an African safari can be confusing, especially if your first time.
There are so many things I wished I’d packed for my first trip and now after several safaris in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, I’ve pulled together the ultimate safari packing list.
In this post, you’ll find my top tips on what to wear on safari, colours to avoid as well as the one essential item you must not go on safari without.
Ultimate Safari Packing List
Warm clothes are key - Gilets, zip-up fleece and long sleeve tops for cold nights and mornings
Long sleeve shirt/blouse – Great for layering over vest tops and tanks
Sports bra – A good sturdy bra/sports bra is a must for ladies on safari! Safari drives are very bumpy!
Waterproof/Light rain jacket
Swimwear – Many camps/lodges especially the luxury ones will have a pool
Aim for casual clothes you can layer up in muted colours such as khaki, beige, camel and light brown.
Footwear & Accessories
Walking boots / Long boots: It can get very dusty, wet and muddy out on safari so boots are best. Although you can wear trainers you’re likely to ruin them. Sturdy boots are more comfortable for walking on the rubble pathways and provide more protection from bites and stings.
Soft Bag/Backpack – Perfect for carrying cameras and essentials whilst out on safari
Long socks – Essential for keeping out pesky bugs
Headscarf/bandana / Neck Gaiter / Snood: Great for protecting your face from the wind & dust
Hat - A broad rim style such as a Fedora is ideal
Hairbands & Scrunchies - If you’ve got long hair you’re going to want to be fully stocked!
Flip flops/sandals - For walking around camp during the day & your tent
Clothing Tips You Need To Know
One thing no one tells you is how cold it can be on safari. Morning game drives tend to set off before sunrise as it’s one of the best times to spot animals, however, sitting in an open safari jeep at 6 am can be extremely chilly! You going to want to layer up!
Most camps will offer a laundry service, although water is scarce in Africa so I prefer to take as much clothing as possible within the weight restrictions.
What To Wear in the Evening on Safari
Whether you’re staying at a luxury lodge or budget safari camp, what you wear in the evening doesn’t need to be any different from the safari clothes you wear during the day. Aim for casual, comfy clothing with closed shoes and something to keep you warm whilst you enjoy a glass of wine around the campfire.
What Colours Should You Not Wear on Safari?
Avoid wearing black or navy blue on safari as these tend to attract biting insects (Tsetse Flies) and stay clear of bright colours as you want to blend in as much as possible. White is just not practical as safaris are a dusty affair.
The Essential Safari Item
If there’s one thing you can’t go on safari without it’s a pair of binoculars, especially if you’re visiting somewhere like the Masai Mara where off-roading is not allowed. They are ESSENTIAL as animals are often far off in the distance and no one wants to miss out on spotting a leopard up a tree. You don’t need to splash out anything expensive, just a simple pair will make all the difference to your safari experience, However, if you want to treat yourself you can't beat a pair of Swarovski Optik binoculars, the clarity is the best I've ever experienced!
Best Safari Clothing Brands
These are some of my go-to brands for safari clothing for both men and women:
Karrimor – Walking Boots
Safari Hat – Marks & Spencer, Amazon, Spitalfields Market London, Accessorize
Toiletries To Pack for Safari
Tissues – Essential for trips to the “bush toilet” or “watering the flowers”
Ear plugs – the noises of the wilderness can take getting used to on your first few nights
First aid kit
Basic medical supplies/First aid kit (pain-killers, plasters, Imodium, antihistamine etc )
Lip balm & Facial Moisturiser are essential as the windy game drives can take their toll on your skin
Safari Gear & Cameras To Pack for Safari
Camera - While a smartphone can be good enough for a quick snap or safari selfie you’re really going to want to take along a camera with a decent zoom. And make sure it has a neck strap as roads on safari can be quite bumpy and I can’t tell you the number of times my camera has flown out of my lap!
Spare/rechargeable camera batteries & memory cards - These are essential! There’s nothing worse than your camera cutting out in the middle of a spectacular animal sighting!
Portable phone charger - Most vehicles have plugs or USB ports for charging but I’d highly recommend taking a rechargeable power bank with you
Torch – Ideal for walking around camp before sunrise or after dark
African safari animals identification book – A great way to remember what you’ve seen
Can You Take a Suitcase on Safari?
The best kind of suitcase or bag to take on safari is a soft one. Safari planes are tiny and have very limited storage, therefore soft luggage such as holdalls, duffels and backpacks are preferred. Personally, I wouldn’t take the risk of turning up with a hard suitcase and in fact, I’ve never seen anyone travel with one on safari.
The airlines also have strict weight restrictions and you will be charged even for 1 kilo over!