5 Tips For Packing Light For Safari

July 19th 2017  |  Shop, Travel  |  by  Richard Smith
Packing for Safari; Tented Camp Bathroom suite Dunia Camp, Serengeti, Tanzania Asilia Africa

When I started to help plan holidays to Africa in 1999 the standard baggage allowance on light aircraft was just 12kg. Most safari destinations have increased this to 15kg and many have gone to 20kg. However this still doesn’t allow you to bring your whole library and the kitchen sink, so here are my top 5 tips for packing light on a safari holiday.

Use a frame-free, wheel-free sports bag

Family arriving on bush plane at Angama Mara Masai Mara Kenya

A soft sided holdall for your safari luggage, Angama Mara, Masai Mara, Kenya

Frames and wheels are great for getting heavy bags through airports, but they make it really difficult to fit everything into the small baggage pods below most light aircraft, so they’re not allowed.

The bonus for you is that bags without frames and wheels are lighter than those with, so with a simple sports bag you’re already saving weight for the things that go inside.

Safari boots

Masai jumping footware close up Sabuk, Laikipa, Kenya

Masai in their ‘thousand-milers’, Sabuk, Kenya.  We recommend something sturdier!

Few safari holidays need you to have heavy boots. Both multi-day walking safaris and gorilla tracking can be done in lightweight Gore-Tex boots, or even trainers if that’s your preference.

If you do want to take your heavy boots, wear them rather than carry them when flying on light aircraft.

Take fewer clothes

Family safari on mokoro Botswana Footsteps in Africa

Pack lightweight loose clothes in muted colours.  Okavango Delta, Botswana, Footsteps in Africa

You don’t need to be smart on a safari holiday, so plenty of things you might think of taking can stay at home. And even once that lot has gone you still probably only need half the things you think you do.

Laundry can be done in almost every safari camp and lodge, with dirty clothes picked up in the morning and returned clean (and possibly ironed) the same day. Take three of most things. You’ll be wearing one, another is clean and waiting to go, the third is being washed.

Don’t take toiletries

Bath tub with a view of Madikwe Hills South Africa

Well equipped en-suite bathroom with elephants beyond at Madikwe Hills, South Africa

“It’s easy for you to tell me not to take shampoo and conditioner” I hear you say. Indeed it is. As a baldy, it’s been many years since they’ve been on any packing list of mine.

All the safari camps and lodges we recommend will supply toiletries in their tents and rooms. You don’t need to take yours with you. If you must, decant a small amount into a travel sized bottle, don’t bring in bulk.

Take an iPad for travel documents and books

Travel apps allow you to carry your itinerary, tickets and emergency numbers with you on your phone and tablet. We offer to upload all our clients’ travel information to Vamoos, so there’s no need for plastic folders with sheaves of paperwork (unless you prefer that, in which case we are happy to oblige). Vamoos also has the advantage of allowing you to “leave a copy” with friends and family at home.

Voracious readers will also be able to use a tablet or Kindle to carry more books than would normally be feasible; fabulous for the downtime in the middle of a safari day, or lounging on the beach. Guidebooks, animal guides and bird books can also be downloaded, with some (eg. Sasol Birds of Southern Africa) available as apps.

Any packing for safari questions?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any packing questions. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

2 responses to “5 Tips For Packing Light For Safari”

  1. Jane says:

    Our friends and ourselves are planning a safari to Botswana and for us an extension to Cape Town and our friends The Vic Falls.
    I wondered if I could arrange a time to come in and discuss options?
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Renate says:

      Dear Jane,
      Your enquiry has been passed to one of the sales team that will be in touch, Best regards Renate

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