What to Pack (and What Not to Pack) for an African Safari

Written by Thomson Safaris

This may be what you think of when you hear “safari,” but it’s not how you should pack for one!

You know what to wear on a beach vacation or an urban adventure, but how should you dress on an African safari?

Keep in mind the following “Dos and Don’ts,” when you’re thinking about what to pack for safari:

DO: Pack items that can be worn multiple ways

You want to pack light on safari (if for no other reason than you’ll want space for souvenirs!), which means you should pack staple clothing items:  think convertible zip-off pants, lightweight layers for changing temperatures, or a simple skirt or pair of slacks that can be worn night after night in camp.

Bear in mind that most camps will have laundry service, but that dryers aren’t common in the bush. That’s why clothing made from quick-dry fabrics will allow you to stay clean and comfortable throughout your safari vacation!

DON’T: Pack jeans, flannel fabrics, or delicate items

Jeans might seem like the ultimate staple item, but denim is hard to dry and may attract pesky tsetse flies. Flannel has the same problems; for a cool weather option, you should pack a lightweight solid-colored fleece instead.

DO: Pack light colored clothing

Tanzania safaris feature warm and sunny weather pretty much year round; that means you’ll want lightweight clothing in light colors to keep you comfortable in the heat of the day.

Avoid black and dark blue clothing (both colors attract tsetse flies), and leave bright-white items at home; safari parks are often dusty, and white clothes may get dingy.

DON’T: Wear animal prints

You want to see wildlife on safari, not look like it!

This isn’t about fashion preferences, it’s about protecting wildlife; several zoos and wildlife refuges have banned visitors from wearing these prints, which they believe confuse the animals.

The evidence for this is anecdotal, but better safe than sorry; when you see a huge pride of lions out the window of your safari vehicle, you don’t want them to think you look like dinner!

DO: Leave expensive items and nonessential electronics at home

This is the kind of precaution that applies not just to safari-goers, but to any savvy traveler. Remember, many of Africa’s best safari destinations are located in developing nations; valuable items would be safer at home.

Especially if you’re opting for an eco-friendly safari, leave nonessential electronics behind as well. You won’t have regular access to electricity or internet in the bush, (though Thomson Safaris guests can rely on US-style outlets in their safari vehicles), so items like hair dryers and laptops will just be taking up space in your luggage!