Updated: Dec 31, 2022
Safaris are amazing. There is something truly incredible about seeing so many beautiful animals in the wild, interacting with each other. Bucket list item for sure! The question of what to pack for a safari can be tricky, though, because you’ll be in such a unique environment. Keep reading below for what to pack.
An African safari has always been on my bucket list. I knew I had to book one on my trip to Zambia. Here’s what I recommend to pack for a safari!
I was packing for an African safari in what we know as summer here in the US and what the Southern Hemisphere knows as winter. Well, this had me worried about what to pack. Luckily, I was able to talk to a local, my cousin, do some online research, and figure out exactly what I needed to pack for a safari. Here is my packing list plus some tips that helped me decide what to pack for a safari!
Want to hear more about my trip? Click here to read about how I spent three days around Victoria Falls!
Before you go:
Check with the CDC (or your country’s health agency) for guidelines on medications and shots. I was in Botswana and Zambia, so it was recommended I take malaria medication, have Hep C, yellow fever, and others.
Reach out to your tour company to see what is included on your safari — Will they have water readily available? Bathrooms? This will help you construct your list.
Check visa regulations. Every country has different rules with different numbers of entries allowed and movement between countries. As a general rule, you should always have six months of validity on your passport and take a picture of your passport in case it is lost or stolen.
Get travel insurance. I started buying travel insurance after I almost had to go to a hospital in Peru because of a nasty allergic reaction. It would have cost me thousands to get proper medical care. This is something I always recommend to people, even if you’re on a budget!
Exchange money if possible before leaving or stop at an ATM when you arrive. There are places at the airport, but it can take a long time to get through. Finding an ATM when you arrive is also a good option if you find they are available. The international airport in Livingstone has a reliable ATM that we easily used to get cash when we arrived. Make sure you talk with your tour company about any money you may need for your trip.
binoculars (I wish I had brought some so bad!)
water bottle — have a Hydro Flask
zoom lens and camera (I have a Sony RX100 III, the zoom is not amazing but does the job)
100% DEET bug spray (the mosquitos are serious)
GoPro (as a backup camera)
Allergy medication (it’s the dry season in June – July, so there is lots of dust floating around which made my allergies flare up pretty badly!)
What to wear:
In Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and South Africa during June - August, it is colder (55-65 degrees Fahrenheit) in the mornings and evenings. During the day, it can still get up to warmer temperatures (70-75 degrees Fahrenheit), this means you need to be prepared for both. Knowing this, I wanted to pack outfits I could wear in both temperatures.
Also, know that June and July in this part of Africa is the dry season. There’s lots of dust and things flying around in general. With all the dust and stuff flying around, you will get dirty and generally feel grimy at the end of the day. Don’t bring fancy clothes, instead wear outdoor gear that is made for wear and tear.
You want to blend in with the surroundings because of the animals. Animals can see you in bright colors. Try making sure you blend in so that you can get closer to animals by wearing camels, grays, and generally neutral tones that blend in with the surroundings.
Comfortable, sturdy shoes — You want close-toed shoes as you’ll be hopping in and out in the bush, which can have lots of creatures. I wore some of my favorite Tommy Hilfiger tennis shoes.
Long sleeve shirt and pants that are breathable. I wore my Colombia trail pants and an ExOfficio safari shirt. The key here is to wear long sleeves that rolled up to quarter sleeves. If I was hot, I could roll up both my pants and shirt to make them shorter. This was perfect considering the cold temperatures in the morning and hot in the afternoon.
ExOfficio Vest — I brought this vest with me to Machu Picchu, and it was pretty much the best decision ever, so I knew I had to bring it on my safari. Since I had my vest, I was able to pack all my essentials on my person and didn’t even have to carry a bag during the day, which was perfect. I could just grab my things out of my pockets. Plus, all pockets were secure on my person, so I didn’t worry about losing any of my things. Highly recommend it!
Hat — I didn’t bring a hat and really regretted it!
Sunglasses — You don’t want to be squinting at animals and miss something! The sun is strong here. Use code MEGHANELISE15 for 15% off your MVMT order.
I hope this post has helped you plan what to pack for a safari!