Safari in Africa: 5 Most important facts you need to know before you pack.
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You have all your hotel bookings, itinerary and flight tickets ready; you are so excited for your upcoming safari but one question lingers; what should I pack for my safari? To most travelers, Africa has proved to be a surprising destination. They expected it to be very hot, yet it can get very cold in some places; they expected all-day blazing sun but found long periods of rain. In short, you need expert advice to know how to prepare and pack for your safari, as small details such as the color, texture, and scent of your clothes can matter in the African savanna. Below is comprehensive information on some of the most important facts and items you need to know before you pack for your safari in Africa.
What to pack?
Have the appropriate texture and color of clothing. A safari is packed with outdoor activities, with exposure to nature and wildlife, hence having the right color, scent, and texture of the clothing is vital for the comfort of the tourist and wildlife as well.
The lighter you pack the better. Whether you are on a day trip or multiday safari, all safaris entail long drives across the African savanna, which means carrying a lot of clothes won’t be necessary. The lighter you pack the easier it gets when moving from one lodge to another, across different wildlife parks on your itinerary. Lighter luggage also offsets your carbon footprint and fuel consumption. If you are going to have flights on caravans to other parks, the baggage allowance is normally very limited in these small planes hence having a small load will always work in your favor.
Pack also a few clothes on your carry-on bag during your long-haul flight to Tanzania just in case your checked-in bag arrives late at the destination. Not to worry, in case your luggage is misplaced or arrives late, be sure to continue your safari as the Staajabu team will track and bring your baggage right to your lodge at any point on your itinerary.
Have layers of clothes because the weather fluctuates across the day. Most safari destinations start chilly in the morning and get very warm in the afternoon, then subsequently cooler in the evening and very cold at the night; hence having different layers of clothing will be functional. Rather than packing 1 big jacket or 1 pair of heavy socks, we advise you to pack several light pairs which you can wear on top of others in layers, thus making it easy to remove or add as the temperature gradually changes. For example, 1 t-shirt for every day of the safari. In some places, temperatures can range from 30°C during the warmest days to 0°C at night in places such as the Ngorongoro highlands.
You can have a light raincoat or poncho, scarf which can cover you in case of light showers to aid your viewing of wildlife from our pop-up roof vehicles, and a windbreaker and warm gloves if you plan to have a walking safari on early cold mornings. Most countries around the equator receive not less than 60 mm a month with annual precipitation getting over 2000mm.
Avoid high heels or fashion sneakers. Get good outdoor shoes with rugged soles and comfortable for long walks on walking safaris but also allow comfortable wear for long periods. Have a pair of flip-flops or sandals and light outdoor sneakers for moving around with ease outside lodges or beaches, plus casual swimwear which you can use at the lodge swimming pool or waterfalls, where swimming is allowed.
For ladies, have sports bras which can be very useful on bumpy road trips on rough terrain. Make sure your clothes are neither too tight nor too loose. Due to warm weather, we advise you avoid jeans or PVC clothes which can hinder the circulation of air to your skin.
Avoid very bright colors such as full white, neon green, etc., which can disrupt the comfort of animals due to their high visual sensitivity. We encourage khaki, brown, beige, grey, leaf green colors which blend with the surroundings and ensure the most minimum disturbance during a game drive. Choose light clothing that won’t insulate you a lot to avoid over sweating in semi-arid areas. Wildlife are normally color blind, but they are very sensitive to bright colors, loud patterns, high contrasts, or black and white which can cause them to spot you as unfamiliar, consequently signaling dangerous causing them to flee.
Avoid blue or black clothes since they attract tsetse flies. These flies have a painful sting which can make your tour uncomfortable. Their sting is not infectious unless you get bitten over long periods, which can lead to sleeping sickness.
Avoid military camouflage clothing as some military units don’t allow civilians to wear camouflaged clothing on common grounds.
Avoid large animal prints, such as leopard skin print on t-shirts which can spook some animals, especially baboons, which make them shout alarm calls, leading other animals to hide.
Have a Cap or hat with a brim that can also cover your neck and ears, because the African sun can be brutal especially for people that will do walking safaris and open-roof game drives. Have a beanie for dawn cold morning game drives.
For Mount Kilimanjaro please, read on our checklist of the required mountain gear.
Medication and body creams.
Malaria is a deadly disease and mosquitos are everywhere in this tropical part of the world. Having antimalarial drugs such as Lariam or Malarone is vital. You may also carry motion sickness drugs if you are prone to nausea or discomfort while in cars or boats. If you are allergic to certain things, we advise you have antihistamines for allergies such as Loratadine, Azelastine, or Claritin because some of these drugs may be difficult to find in Tanzania. For asthmatic patients, please have your inhaler with you at all times as some safaris can get very dusty; a handkerchief or bandana can also be helpful. You can also have a potable insect repellant at your disposal, which you can spray on the go to ward off bugs but wearing a long-sleeved shirt and trousers can protect you from this.
All our tours come with available hand sanitizers in each vehicle. Get odorless deodorants since some animals are sensitive to strong perfumes and scents. Get a good sunscreen with the matching SPF for your skin as the African sun can get very hot.
Toiletries: Most of our partner lodges and hotels on safari provide the soaps, shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, towels, body creams, and other toiletries in each room, but packing a small toiletry bag with your essentials can be most convenient.
All our vehicles have first aid kits and all our guides have first aid training just in case of an emergency, plus an AMREF membership for serious issues that need tourists to be flown out of the park for medical intervention.
Documents and Equipment.
Have physical and electronic copies of your passport, visa, hotel booking, itinerary and flight details just in case your device runs out of battery.
All our vehicles have binoculars and charging ports for your electronic devices. Off-roading is not allowed under strict regulations in case you want to get very close to the animals, thus a good zoom lens will be very handy.
Get a universal travel adapter that will come in handy to match your country’s plug type. Tanzania uses two types of plugs, namely types D and G. Plug type D has three round pings in a triangle pattern, while plug G, has two parallel pins and a grounding pin. Tanzania’s supply voltage is 230V and 50Hz.
Make sure to carry your camera (To match your photographic needs), but most travelers use their smartphones to capture and post on social media on the go. Don’t take pictures on military grounds as this is strictly prohibited. When approaching army grounds, your guide will let you know. Please do notify us, in case you want to fly your drone as you will need a permit from the government to fly it. Our team can get this permit for you before your arrival to avoid fines and penalties, as drones have special rules and places where they can be flown.
Avoid carrying expensive jewelry, electric toothbrush, flat irons, hairdryers, as most of these are included in your hotel room (Please confirm with us if such are a necessity). Another alternative is to have battery-powered options for such equipment.
Money: On arrival, your guide will take you to a bureau de change or local ATM where you can acquire local currency as most local shops, groceries, restaurants don’t accept foreign currency. Quickly know the exchange rates of your currency and compare the prices for items you want to purchase. Please do get advice from your guide on places you can buy what you want because there is a tendency for some local vendors to inflate local prices, two or three-fold when they notice foreigners.
You can also pack some miscellaneous items such as a penknife, tablet or notebook for taking notes, animal guide and identification books, water bottles, pair of sunglasses, headlamp or solar-powered reading lamps as some eco-friendly lodges switch off electricity late in the night.
We recommend canvas bags rather than fiber or plastic suitcases which can break and also cause a lot of noise on bumpy roads as they hit each other or against the car. Get lightweight strong bags that are cushioned to protect your gear and equipment from the shaky and bumpy rough terrain during long drives. The cushion should always be a priority when it comes to bag choices.
All our partner hotels and lodges serve 3 premium meals and water to our guests but having extra snacks, dried fruits, mixed nuts or biscuits won’t hurt. During our safaris, the guest will also stop by shopping malls or shops in adjacent villages just in case you would want to get local fruits or snacks. Please consult our guide before consuming any local foods or drinks.
In conclusion, the African safari is an outdoor adventure in a natural unenclosed zoo, hence keen measures have to be taken to ensure both the traveler and wildlife maintain their comfort zones, hence packing the right thing is vital to ease your travel and ensure the maximum amount of tour satisfaction. If you have a certain item that you are unsure whether to carry or not, please do contact us anytime and our safari experts will get back to you immediately.