Don’t overthink it. You don’t need to look like a safari caricature just to see an elephant. Just remember one absolutely essential piece of advice: pack light. Safari means journey in Swahili and a journey is much easier when you don’t have three overwhelming suitcases.

Everything you pack must come with you, either on a local flight or in the safari vehicle. Plus, you’ll be changing destination every few days, perhaps every single day, so there isn’t time to keep packing and repacking.

You’re going to the wilderness. But also remember that Africa does have shops. It even has shopping malls. So if you forget something there’s no need to panic. Think about it. If there’s anywhere in the world to buy clothes for a safari it’s going to be next to the safari destinations themselves.

Visiting Africa isn’t a fashion show so there’s no need to pack differently for every day; the elephants don’t care too much about which designer made your shoes!

The Basic Safari Packing List

There’s no magical list of what to pack but the following are essential.

  • Comfortable lightweight clothes of neutral colours.
  • High-factor sunscreen and a sun hat.
  • Comfortable closed shoes.
  • A fleece or good sweater for the evenings.
  • Insect repellent.

Lightweight breathable fabrics are good on space and comfortable in a challenging climate. Neutral colours don’t stand out, meaning you intrude less on the animals’ environment. Neutral colours don’t attract biting insects, another important advantage.

And it’s dusty, especially in dry season, so bright colours won’t look very bright after a day in the safari vehicle. Unless you’re going on a long walking safari you don’t need walking boots, just something comfortable that covers your toes.

Also on the list if you have them…

  • Good binoculars.
  • Your camera equipment.
  • Anti-malarial medication (beware of side effects, especially with Lariam or Malarone).
  • US dollars in cash.
  • A sarong or blanket.