Packing Light

  • Packing light is essential on safari. Luggage capacity on safari vehicles - as well as light aircraft - is limited.
  • Hard suitcases cannot be taken on safari. Whether you are traveling by road or by air - or a combination of both - please be advised to leave your hard-sided suitcases at home.
  • Because luggage capacity is so limited both on vehicles and in light aircraft, luggage must be carried in soft-sided bags that can be molded and squeezed into small areas.
  • When light aircraft flights are included on you itinerary, please adhere to the strict weight restrictions. Light aircraft flights throughout Africa are limited to 12-15 kg, which is approximately 26-30 pounds per person. Check with your tour operator. For your safety, this weight restriction is strictly adhered to.

What happens if you bring too much luggage?

  • If you are on a longer safari and will be visiting several countries with different climate conditions, I recommend that you pack in two bags - splitting the trip in half. One bag can be left in a major city hotel or at your tour operator office while on safari, picking it up prior to departure for the next portion of your journey.
  • If you are traveling by road, and the vehicle is full, you may be charged for your excess luggage. OR, you may be asked to repack your bags, leaving larger bags behind. In the worst case scenario, if you are not returning to your originating point, you may be charged for the cost of an additional vehicle to carry your excess luggage.
  • If you are traveling by air, and the aircraft is full, the pilot may tell you that your excess luggage will have to be left behind. Or, he may advise you that you need to travel on another flight, incurring extra charges for either chartering an aircraft or paying for additional seats to compensate for your excess luggage.
  • Casual attire is appropriate on all safaris. Fancy clothing is not necessary, and laundry facilities are generally available at all camps and lodges. Luxury camps include free laundry service during your stay; some camps won’t do your “smallies”, however due to religious customs. With proper planning, you can get your stuff into one soft-sided bag and avoid any inconvenience.

What to Wear On Safari

Above all, clothing on a safari should be practical and comfortable. Roads can be dusty and the temperature can fluctuate as much as 20-30 degrees during the course of the day & night.

Layers are an ideal way to pack. Mornings are generally cooler - and in some areas cold. As the day progresses and the sun rises higher in the sky, the temperatures rise. The cooling process begins again in the late afternoon, as the sun sets.

Packing light layers will help you adjust to any climate condition, as you simply remove layers as the temperatures rise.

Safari clothing should be light in color - both for reflecting the suns rays, and for blending in with the natural environment. Avoid dark colors such as brown, black and navy that absorb the heat. Tse-Tse flies are attracted to navy blue!

Neutral colors such as beige, khaki and bush green are particularly suitable.

Try to stick to cotton or other natural fibers. Cotton breathes and allows the cooler air to circulate, thus keeping you cool and comfortable. My favorite safari clothing comes from Exofficio and the Buzz Off line is both sun protective and keeps the bugs away. It also is very lightweight and will dry in 2-3 hours after washing. Avoid clothing that needs to be dry-cleaned, as these facilities are not generally available at lodges and camps. 

Remember that casual dress is acceptable everywhere. Often, clothing worn to dinner will be worn on safari the next day.

Safe-Guarding your Valuables

I strongly recommend that all expensive jewelry be left at home. While on safari, you will be dressed casually, and your expensive jewelry may not always be appropriate. Wear only simple jewelry while traveling: a plain wedding band and an inexpensive watch work well almost anywhere. Carry only small amounts of cash and take the rest of your reserves in traveler’s checks or use credit cards, both of which can be replaced if lost or stolen. 

  • Be vigilant about your belongings at all times. 
  • Don't leave your camera or binoculars unattended in either your room or in the vehicle. 
  • When traveling through airports, never leave your bags unattended. 
  • Always lock your luggage before checking it in. 
  • When walking down the streets of any city, be sure to keep your handbag close to your body and don't keep your wallet in your back pocket, a pickpocket's dream! 
  • In the unlikely event someone tries to steal your wallet or bag - let go!
  • Your personal safety is more important than belongings.

Recommended Clothing List

  • BUZZ OFF™ apparel by Ex Officio
  • Long trousers/slacks 
  • Shorts/Skirts 
  • T-shirts/polo shirts
  • Long sleeved shirts 
  • Warm sweater 
  • Windbreaker or other light jacket 
  • Bathing suit 
  • Good walking shoes 
  • Underwear and socks

Recommended Miscellaneous Check List

  • Sunglasses 

  • Bush hat with wide brim

  • Sunscreen 

  • Insect Repellant with DEET

  • Plenty of film or smart cards!!! 

  • Extra batteries for all equipment (camera, flash, shavers) 

  • Extra pair of prescription glasses

  • Eyeglasses for contact wearers - windy, dusty conditions can irate contact wearer's eyes 

  • Binoculars 

  • Plastic zip lock bags - great for soiled clothes, protecting camera equipment from dust, etc. 

  • Tissues, wash-n-dries 

  • Sufficient underwear (in some countries, underwear cannot be laundered due to local culture and customs) 

  • Moisturizer 

  • Flashlight 

  • Scarf and gloves for colder months 

  • Light rain coat/umbrella for rainy months - and visits to Victoria Falls! 

  • Personal hygiene items (expensive and not always available in lodges) 

  • Hard candy (great for thirst quenching on dusty rides) 

  • Lip Balm 

More packing suggestions and additional travel tips

You will need visas for entry to Kenya and Tanzania. Though you can get these in Africa, your travel will go smoother if you get them in advance through the respective embassies. 

Make a photocopy and a list of the following items:

  • Passports (including the pages with the visas stamped in them and the pages with photos and data)
  • Yellow booklet showing your yellow fever vaccination
  • List of all medications you might require and the prescriptions, your doctors’ contact info 
  • Airline tickets, credit & debit card numbers, travelers’ check numbers
  • List of serial numbers for cameras, laptops, etc 

Keep these copies and lists someplace apart from where you keep these items, such as the bottom of each bag you bring and at home with a friend or relative. 

On your international flight, pack as if the airline might lose your bags. Keep things you will need right away in your carry-on. This seldom happens of course and almost always the bags arrive a couple of days later, but this way, if the bags do not arrive with you, you will be able to continue on your safari while the airline finds them. 

Medication: Most essentials are available in major towns in Africa. However, if you are taking prescribed drugs for prolonged periods, you are advised to carry adequate dosages to cover your safari plus a week. 

It is also worth carrying a spare pair of eyeglasses and if that fails take a prescription that would enable you to get another pair. Note: contact lenses are difficult to use on safari due to the high amount of dust.

Luggage and bags: You should make every effort to pack your belongings into one large soft-sided waterproof duffel bag or backpack and one 'carry on' style bag for cameras, valuables and day trips. Chances are you will have limitations in your safari vehicle. In some cases travel on small aircraft (if part of your itinerary) limits you to 10-15 kg / 22-33 pounds. If you plan on doing a lot of souvenir shopping, you might consider carrying another bag tucked in your suitcase to help judge your limits. 

Important - For persons crossing the Atlantic Ocean from North America and connecting in Europe to Africa, International air carriers limit carry on bags to one and checked bags to two per passenger. 

Persons departing from Europe have weight restrictions on bags as well, varying with the carrier. 

If you are doing a lot of traveling and need to carry more than the suggested items, keep in mind that you may be required to leave them at the hotel. Laundry service in Africa is often a bargain. Luxury and camping safaris generally include laundry service free of charge.

Free Advice: - The customs and culture of East Africa, especially in coastal areas and Zanzibar are conservative. Revealing or very tight clothing should be avoided.

Necessities for a safari include: 

Laundry is available, sometimes complimentary in all camps, don't bring too much stuff

  • Passport, (visas) inoculation certificates, travel docs, insurance decals
  • Visa and Mastercard credit cards. Cash for airport taxes, visas, tips.
    Tipping is happily received in safari camps: $5.00 per couple per night for the general camp staff 

    Professional guides are tipped directly. 
  • Malaria protection - Anti-malaria prophylactics
  • strong insect repellent containing DEET 
  • strong sunscreen 
  • Tick repellent 
  • Immodium AD or other anti-diarrhea pills 
  • Antihistamine cream and tablets 
  • Prescription medicine in the original containers / copy of prescriptions
  • You should bring a tooth brush, tooth paste, razor, shaving cream deodorant, and other toiletries with you as those available in Africa are expensive and often not of good quality.
  • Common drugs such as aspirin, cough drops, Pepto Bismol, etc
  • Vitamins that you might normally take 
  • If you suffer from motion sickness, don't forget to use your preferred medication – Seabands, patches or tablets.
  • Safari vest with lots of pockets to carry heavy items 

The Extra Goodies 

  • Binoculars is a MUST 
  • Camera with lots of extra film or smart cards, extra batteries, video camera & extra tape 
  • Sunglasses with case 
  • Spare glasses or contact lenses 
  • Walking poles or staff
  • Flash light and batteries
  • Packets of moist towelettes, anti-bacterial washing liquid, soft toilet paper!
  • Chapstick — The plains are dusty and dry and without it, your lips can look like and feel like the terrain you will cross on safari 
  • Travel pillow; can also be used as a butt cushion on safari drives 
  • Small journal or notebook, pens
  • Bird and animal checklist 
  • Water bottles & purification pills
  • A good novel or two for pleasure reading
  • Zip-Lock type bags to keep the dust and moisture out of stuff and keep your wet swimsuit in etc
  • A couple large plastic trash bags to wrap stuff in should it rain (your bags may travel on racks on top of the vehicle) 
  • Money belt or similar. The best is a pouch that fits in front inside your shirt or slacks. 
  • Guide books 
  • A spare empty bag for all the stuff you will buy to take home!

What kind of clothes should I pack?

Both temperatures and climate vary drastically from region to region and even throughout a single day. You should be prepared for hot, cold, wet and dusty conditions. Ultimately your packing should be dictated by the activities you are planning to undertake. Make sure that you bring suitable luggage able to withstand plenty of handling and dusty conditions.

Bring casual lightweight cotton, khaki or neutral colored clothes for safari (no white or bright colors)

MEN'S CLOTHING (suggestions)

  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes that would be appropriate for a nice restaurant 
  • 1 pair of sturdy shoes or boots for hiking, preferable waterproof
  • 1 pair of sandals to use when walking to the shower at camps, etc
  • 4-5 pair of socks 
  • 1 pair of nice long slacks for use in restaurants 
  • 1-2 pair of long casual slacks or safari pants (no bright colors or white)
  • 1-2 pair of shorts 
  • 1-2 belts 
  • 1-2 swimming suits 
  • 3-4 golf/tee shirts 
  • 2 long sleeve casual (safari) shirts 
  • 1 dress shirt (tie optional depending on if you think you might visit a top restaurant) 
  • 1 Fleece or sweater and a warm jacket for game drives (and at Ngorongoro Crater) 
  • 1 rain poncho 

WOMEN'S CLOTHING (suggestions)

  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes that would be appropriate for a nice restaurant 
  • 1 pair of sturdy shoes or boots for hiking
  • 1 pair of sandals to use when walking to the shower at camps, etc
  • 4-5 pairs of socks 
  • 1 dress or nice skirt for use in restaurants 
  • 1-2 pair of long casual (safari) pants (neutral colors only)
  • 1-2 pair of shorts 
  • 1-2 belts 
  • 1-2 swimming suit 
  • 3-4 casual short sleeve blouses 
  • 2 long sleeve casual blouses 
  • 1 Fleece or sweater and a warm jacket for game drives (and at Ngorongoro Crater) 
  • 1 rain poncho 
  • 1-2 wide brimmed hats (VERY IMPORTANT FOR SUN PROTECTION)

I Bet You Never Thought to Bring?

  • A mini tape recorder — If you don't have a video camera, this could provide a great audio diary of sorts. Capture the roar of the lions, the squeaks of the zebra, snorts of the hippo, and you bargaining with the Masai. It's small, easily concealed, and nothing can quite bring you back to a moment in time like your auditory senses can.
  • Pens — when you are in the cities, street kids will certainly pester you for any penny you might have. Instead, offer a pen. They love them and will walk away satisfied. If not, suggest buying them a banana or some food.
  • 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 the taste!
  • Wedding ring — if you are a single woman traveling solo, this will save you much explanation to the annoying questions: "Will you marry me?" or "Do you have a partner?"
  • A 10-meter length of nylon cord — makes an excellent clothesline.
  • Ear plugs — the quiet can be quite noisy.
  • Iodine tablets — contaminated water is your worst enemy in Africa. If you choose to not buy the very affordable spring water, you will want to treat your water with iodine.
  • Kool Aid packets — t flavor away the taste of iodine if you are using the tablets in your water.
  • Special adapters and converters for hair driers, electric shavers or battery chargers, if necessary.
  • Swiss army knife, 
  • travel sewing kit maybe to fix things
  • duck tape
  • a whistle 

Recommended For Mountain Climbing

  • Sleeping Bag (rated at least 0 degrees F) Bags can also be rented. 
  • Gortex jacket with hood and pants 
  • Long underwear (tops and bottoms) both medium and heavy weight 
  • Wool sweater 
  • Warm hiking boots, insulated and broken-in 
  • Several pairs of socks and polypropylene liner socks 
  • Long sleeve cotton and wool shirts 
  • Turtleneck sweaters 
  • Wool hat 
  • Balaclava 
  • Sweat suit or track suit for sleeping in 
  • Heavy mittens (wool or down) with Gortex exterior and glove liners 
  • Hat for sun protection 

Health & Safety 
Compulsory immunizations:

Yellow Fever

Infection caused by a virus carried by monkeys, transmitted through mosquitoes that carry the virus from the monkey to the human. The symptoms are a short, mild fever often leading to jaundice, failure of the liver and kidneys and eventually death. The vaccine is effective. The vaccination is valid for 10 years and is only available in specialist clinics or hospitals that are certified to administer it. A valid Yellow Fever inoculation certificate is required (to enter Tanzania) if arriving from or via an infected area (Kenya) having passed through that area by any other means than a scheduled stop-over flight. 

* Recommended immunizations:

* Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A, also called 'infectious hepatitis' is basically an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus A. The virus is picked up from contaminated food and water. The symptoms are a slight febrile disorder, loss of appetite and jaundice. Almost everyone recovers within about 2 months. Precautions include immunization and avoiding salads, unpeeled fruit, sharing crockery and cutlery. Shots should be repeated every 2 years if traveling in infected areas.

* Malaria

Malaria is present in most of Africa. A prophylaxis need to be taken each time you travel. Consult your travel clinic. 

* Polio

Polio or Poliomyelitis is an infection caused by a virus. It affects the motor neurone cells in the spinal cord mainly. The symptoms are fever and headache, weakness in a group of muscles, then widespread paralysis. Sometimes there is respiratory paralysis and rapid death. There is an effective vaccine taken by mouth. 

* Tetanus

Tetanus (also known as lockjaw) is a disease caused by infection with 'clostridium tetani' which is present in soil and in the intestines of humans and animals. Infection can enter the body via cuts after which bacteria produce a toxin affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord. This is followed by convulsions and muscle spasms. The vaccine is effective for 10 years. The disease can also be treated by an antitoxin and penicillin. 

* Typhoid

Typhoid or 'enteric fever' is caused by infection with 'salmonella typhi'. The infection is passed from infected water, milk or food or by people preparing food or drinks. Symptoms are a rapidly fluctuating temperature, drowsiness, diarrhea, abdominal rash, delirium and coma. Immunization is effective. Shots last for 2 years. The disease is treatable with antibiotics. 

Cholera is no longer given in the US

Cholera is serious infection of the intestine. The infection is called Vibrio cholerae and is usually caused through drinking contaminated water. The symptoms are a sudden, watery, diarrhea which very rapidly dehydrates the body bringing the sufferer to a state of shock with death following within 2 days. If diagnosed and treated rapidly with the replacement of body fluids, death is uncommon. Although not officially compulsory, cholera certificate can be requested at the borders. 

Food & Drink Precautions:
Is the food & water safe for me to consume?

Always choose food that has been freshly and thoroughly cooked, and is served hot. Raw fruits and vegetables tend to be very difficult to sterilize: don't eat them unless they have been carefully and thoroughly washed in clean water, or are easy to cut open or peel without contaminating the flesh. In the tropics, the easiest and safest fruits are bananas and papayas. Do not be afraid to reject food you consider unsafe. Avoid all unpeeled fruit, badly cooked meat, ice-cubes, untreated milk, ice cream if made from untreated milk. 

Drinking water from the tap is considered risky. Hotels and lodges usually furnish safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and supermarket. Purify water or make sure it is clean. If you are not sure avoid it. Soft drinks (sodas) and beer are widely available. Take extra salt if in hot climates. 

For more information on medical advise

Polyclinic Travel Medical 206-860-4532, Seattle, WA 98122 1145 Broadway 

Seattle-King County Health Department:
Auburn Public Health Center 253-833-8567 or 206-296-8414; Auburn, WA 98002-5404 20 Auburn Ave Web: 

Northshore Public Health Center 206-296-9816, Bothell, WA 98011 10808 NE 145 th St., Web: 

Downtown Public Health Center 206-296-4960, Seattle, WA 98121 2124 4 th Ave. 

University of WA School of Medicine, University of WA Medical Center (Hospital) 
Seattle, WA 98195-6123 1959 NE Pacific St. Web:

Hall Health Primary Care Center, DTMH, University of Washington, Box 354410, Seattle, WA 98195 Web:

UW Travel & Tropical Medicine Service 206-598-4888 - Russell McMullen, MD 

UW International Travel Medicine Clinic Appointments: 206-616-2495 - Christopher Sanford, MD, Elaine Jong, MD 

Virginia Mason Medical Center 206-583-6585 ( Travel Clinic in Asthma and Allergy Dept.) Robert Rakita, MD Seattle, WA 98111 1100 Ninth Avenue /PO Box 900, C7-PUL, Buck Pavilion, 4 th floor Web: 

(Group Health members only) Group Health Cooperative 206-326-3488 or 1-800-562-6300 ext. 3488 Telephone consultation with referral to primary care Group Health clinic for recommended vaccines Web:

EverettGroup Health Cooperative 425-261-1500, 2930 Maple St.,Everett, WA 98201-4261 

Top Ten Ways to Die on Safari

10. Relieve yourself frequently in the bush

9. Smuggle Serengeti animal artifacts across borders

8. Eat raw steaks...upwind

7. Engage in up close, dental, lion photography

6. Use Calvin Klein's Obsession as a tsetse fly repellant

5. Reject your mosquito netting as something that obscures the stars

4. Eagerly display your new set of orthodontics to a silverback gorilla

3. Use a watering hole as a wading pool

2. Play fetch with a hyena

1. Yell Out: "Here rhino, rhino, rhino..."


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