Packing for safari often raises a lot of questions–Is this the right type of duffel? What’s the weather like?
We hear you.
All of us at the Thomson office asked the same questions the first time we took off for Tanzania. So, we put together a list of insider tips that have helped us pack for safari, and we want to share these with you to help you prepare for your journey too!
1. Long Travel Days Ahead
Enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Your flights will be much more tolerable if you are comfortable, organized and prepared. Arrive at the airport in something you won’t mind wearing for 24+ hours and keep a small bag easily accessible with everything you’ll need to pass the time and stay refreshed.
Angela: Wear a comfortable outfit and bring a book (or two)! This Patagonia jacket is great from plane to camp, and I swear by these noise cancelling headphones when I want to catch up on sleep.
2. Layers on Layers
In the bush you’ll experience bright sunny days and cool chilly nights. Since the weather can fluctuate so much throughout your adventure, layers are your best friend on safari. A light sweater or sweatshirt that you can easily slip on and off is great to keep in your day pack, and we always advise bringing a rain jacket in case of bad weather.
Ali: Choose layers that are comfortable, moisture-wicking and provide SPF protection. These are great options that pack well and can be washed at camp!
3. Pick the Right Luggage
A lightweight but durable soft-sided duffel bag is the best way to pack for safari. Make sure you consider the weight of your bag when packing for your trip.
Christine: Choose a unique color or a branded bag, like the Thomson Safaris duffel. That way, you’ll always be able to identify your bag at baggage claim. It’s the perfect size, it’s light and it has wheels for easy transportation through the airport. I also like to stay organized with packing cubes–one for shirts, one for pants, one for accessories, etc.
4. Stay Prepared with a Day Bag
Safari consists of long journeys in the Land Rover wildlife-viewing between destinations. Keep a small backpack with you while you’re on the road to ensure you’ll have everything you need for the day: a light sweater, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. We also suggest bringing a smaller bag for your wallet and cash.
Cat: On my safari, I always kept my day bag nearby. I packed it every morning after our guides would give us a briefing of the day’s itinerary. Make sure you choose a bag with a lot of pockets so you can easily access your handwipes, sunscreen, ChapStick or whatever else you’ve packed, so you’re not digging down to the bottom every time you need something.
5. Stay Cozzzy at Night
Temperatures can drop as low as the high 40s at night in the Ngorongoro Crater and generally stay between the low 50s and 60s in the Serengeti. Be prepared with a warm and comfortable PJ set and some warm socks to keep you comfortable throughout the night.
Angela: Our guests find the beds at camp super comfortable. Make the most out of your nights with the perfect pajamas! These ones from J.Crew are soft, warm and easy to wash. They come in both men and women’s styles.
6. Stay Charged
Keep your phone and camera charged throughout the day! A universal adapter is a great gadget to keep handy in the airport. For extra power throughout the day, or on those long flights, consider a portable charging bank.
Fiona: I always travel with a universal adapter. This one is compatible in over 150 different countries. Since I take all my photos on my phone, this portable charger stays with me in my day bag. It’s thin, lightweight and can charge two devices at once.
7. Be prepared for the Bush Bathroom
When prepping your toiletry bag, remember that bathrooms at camp come equipped with towels, hand soap, shampoo and conditioner. Bring reusable travel size containers of your favorite products from home.
Andrew: Staying organized is key! Take your favorite products with you in a small toiletry bag to make sure that everything travels between camps with you. I like these bags because they have hooks, so you can keep your toiletries all in one place and clutter-free. I never leave anything behind.
8. Safari Stepping
Choosing the right footwear for safari is essential. We recommend bringing a pair of lightweight sneakers for walking safaris, and a comfortable shoe to wear at camp and in the Land Rover. Unless you are joining a safari after trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro there’s no need to bring a heavy boot or hiking shoe.
Clark: Remember, the savannah can get dusty. Bring shoes that you are comfortable with getting a little dirty. We suggest avoiding white shoes, because it will be impossible to keep them clean.
9. Binoculars are your Best Friend
Safaris are all about getting up close to wildlife, but trust us, you’re not going to want to get too close to certain animals.
Ina: You can’t go on safari without these! I like these options because they’re not expensive, are magnification monsters at a power of 8×42, they still give a really clear image. You’ll be spotting wildlife like a pro!
10. Laundry Day!
Did you know that you can get your laundry done on safari? For just a few dollars per garment, the camp staff will hand wash and air dry your dirty laundry. Not only is it a perfect solution to prevent overpacking, but it’s a great way to support a small Tanzanian business owned by our camp’s staff.
Matt: My safari dovetailed my trek on Mt. Kilimanjaro, so the laundry service was super helpful. All my clothes felt like new!
11. Pack the Iconic Safari Hat
The classic ‘safari hat’ has become a symbol of safari, and for a good reason. Not only is it super stylish, but the full brim protects your face and neck from the sun. You might look like Indiana Jones, but you’ll feel like a million dollars.
Carolyn: These hats are perfect for keeping the sun out of your eyes, and even have a chin strap to keep it secure on the savannah terrain. I bought one for myself and the same one, only the male version, for my husband.