Africa Safari Travel Packing List


When you go on safari for the first time, you often don’t know what to pack. Apart from the “typical” safari gear: sand-colored trousers, an olive-green shirt, and preferably a hat in muted tones. Honestly? Owned neither the typical hat nor sand-colored trousers. But I much prefer to put on my dark blue pants instead of dressing in the sand like everyone else.

Here I have listed what I have brought with me on so-called game drives and bush walks over the years and on my trips to South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Botswana, and Sri Lanka.

By the way, I now even own a “typical” safari hat – but I didn’t buy this for Africa and game drives or bush walks, but for my 3-month trip to Australia. Guess how many times I wore it? Exactly: not once!

When Packing Never Forget: less is more.

No matter whether you are traveling with a roof tent or in lodges. Traveling to safari countries always means casual and comfortable clothing with an onion look. You can safely leave the fancier clothes at home (I always do anyway).

In lodges, there is almost always the service to have laundry washed for free. Especially on my trip to Namibia – Botswana during the dry season, the clothes were dry within a very short time, only the clothes were often still covered by a light brown veil because the water is not completely clean. But the clothes were often dry within an hour, that was really fast!

Note: When joining with a bush plane (e.g. to the Okavango Delta) only small luggage up to 8 – 10 kg is allowed. Find out about this before you travel.

We’re “Only” on Safari – Don’t Overdo it with Camouflage Clothing

I’ve seen it all on safaris: from bright neon t-shirts (on walking safaris!!!) to camouflage patterned camouflage clothing. I often didn’t give it much thought at first either. I just tried to avoid bright colors. But then it happened during gorilla trekking in Uganda: It was raining cats and dogs and I felt really stupid in my bright turquoise jacket.

After the trip, I immediately bought one in muted natural colors. I really like bright colors, but if you want to observe wild animals in nature on foot, you should wear classic safari colors like opaque colors like khaki, beige and brown.

Whether it has to be a safari outfit or not – in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and for the most part also in Uganda and Rwanda, I wore my normal chino trousers, which I also wear every day, no special trousers that I used to wear outdoors shop I trusted.

I only wore my long zip pants when gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda because they are thin and very comfortable. The result was a long tear through thorns in the impenetrable Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Luckily I wasn’t wearing normal pants at the time.

I would generally leave camouflage clothing at home, as this can often be misunderstood. These clothes are only worn by the military – for real now! Are you almost exclusively on game drives in the car? Then it doesn’t matter what you wear. Of course, muted colors are better, but you’re not in danger in the car and you don’t have to camouflage yourself.

It’s Not Always Hot on Safaris – My Tip: Onion Look!

On my safaris in South Africa and in Kenya in July, it was extremely cold in the mornings. Therefore, you should really pay attention to what time of year you travel. Our summer months are the winter months there. It is cold before sunrise and after sunset. A softshell or fleece jacket is often sufficient. In Kenya, however, the wind blew so cold that I was glad to have packed a wool hat and an extra jacket. As soon as the sun has risen, you can usually take off your jackets and hats.

Those hated zip pants (I don’t really like them) could also be useful for one or the other because you can quickly detach the legs and have short pants in no time at all.

I Always Travel with a Backpack

One for hand luggage (also useful for bush walks) and one for checking in as main luggage.

I currently have my hiking backpack (Tatonka) with me as hand luggage. I rarely use backpacks anymore. Backpacks in olive or brown tones are suitable for bush walks (walks in the savannah). Since Tatonka doesn’t have one on offer, I’m using a backpack from Fjällräven here.

I carry the inner part of my photo backpacks with me in my hiking backpacks, so that the camera and lenses are protected in the backpack.

The Fjällräven backpack has numerous compartments to stow your laptop, camera accessories, wallet, documents, water bottles, etc. perfectly. It also has a hip and chest strap for bush walks. I could even take a hydration bladder with me for long walks. But I don’t always have it with me. For me, this backpack is the best for hiking.

I often decide spontaneously which backpack to take with me.

You can view my “normal packing list” here: Holiday checklist

What Goes in the Hand Luggage?

On the outbound flight, I now always advise packing spare clothes for the next day in case it really happens and the checked baggage doesn’t arrive. This has already happened to friends of mine and we were then busy buying the most important things.

  • Hence my tip: a change of clothes for one day
  • A pair of compression socks for the flight
  • Important documents such as passport, international + national driving license (depending on destination), vaccination certificate
  • First address that I often have to give when entering the country
  • Cash (a few euros, a few rands or shillings, a few US dollars, all in small denominations) + international driver’s license
  • iPad or Kindle with books travel guides, and series and documentaries available offline on Netflix
  • Waterproof and lockable Ziploc bags, primarily passports and important documents, look forward to waterproof storage
  • Ziploc bag with lip balm, hand cream, liquid for dry eyes, toothbrush and small toothpaste (if you don’t bring your main luggage), small deodorant
  • My MacBook Pro 14″, charger, and small external SSD hard drive (waterproof)
  • Travel adapter
  • Camera, lenses, spare batteries, spare memory cards
  • External battery pack for charging the smartphone, iPad, and camera

Safari Clothing

  • Sun protection: sunglasses, hat or baseball cap, and sunscreen.
  • 2 light long-sleeves (preferably with UV protection) and long pants to protect against mosquitoes and thorns on walking safaris
  • 1-2 shorts, 3-4 tops, and 3-4 t-shirts (if you travel in the African winter, then rather long sleeves, sweaters, and long pants)
  • 1 comfortable sweater (usually a hoodie)
  • flip flops
  • Comfortable shoes (Adidas Terrex or the typical shoes from South Africa from Veldskoen)
  • Trekking shoes (I have flat trail running shoes) for bush walks
  • Softshell or fleece jacket
  • rain jacket
  • Socks and underwear for 1 week
  • Sleepwear
  • Microfiber towel (dries quickly and saves space)
  • Swim shorts
  • As a woman, a dress

Safari Photo Equipment – my camera and lenses

Since I travel a lot, my camera has to be one thing above all: robust. Here I have had a perfect experience with the Sony Alpha 7 IV so far. It is one of the few cameras that have automatic eye sensor detection (for humans, animals, and birds). So you are guaranteed sharp photos. Another advantage is that the sensor can be closed with this new Sony model. When changing lenses in the savannah, you have the advantage that dirt no longer gets on your sensitive sensor.

Another requirement of a camera is that it can be charged by cable via USB in the car using a battery pack. In Botswana, I was on the road with my car and roof tent for almost four weeks and rarely had electricity available.

I know the Sony Alpha 7 IV is no bargain. In addition, it is more in the “for professionals” category and is therefore no longer quite as compact and small. The lenses I have afforded are also very expensive. Hence the next point:

  • Fast lenses and fast autofocus are the most important things on a safari.
  • If one moment you see a giraffe 50 meters away and you are happy to have the zoom (100-400 is ideal for me) on the camera, the next moment a lion or leopard can suddenly appear right in front of the vehicle and you can feel it only photograph the eye and the nose, because then, of course, you have the wrong lens on it. I used to use a second camera (Sony Alpha 6400) for this. I now use my cell phone and take photos in RAW mode (iPhone 13 Pro).

I also often reach for my binoculars (see above) just to observe and enjoy, so that the safari doesn’t degenerate into stress. Above all, you can watch birds so well.

Other Must-have Travel Essentials

  • Pocket knife: What would I do without a Leatherman now? With it, I could tighten the screws of my sunglasses again, cut any cables, or use scissors from it. The most important utensil on our trip with a roof tent through Namibia and Botswana.
  • Headlamp (+ spare batteries): Second most important item in Africa besides the pocket knife! Mine even has an infrared function so you can see the animals and not blind them.
  • First-aid kit: I always have a first-aid kit with me in Africa. It doesn’t matter whether it’s plasters, broad-spectrum antibiotics, or malaria prophylaxis. I need everything when the nearest pharmacy was far away.
  • Damp wipes (baby wipes are great by the way) when there is no shower.
  • Sagrotan Gel when there is no water nearby. Always washing your hands is a must.
  • Bug spray with DEET (you can also buy it locally, which is often even better)
  • Camelback for longer hikes and bush walks, so you don’t always have to reach back for a drinking bottle.
  • My travel diary so I can capture all the memories

Attention: This list is based on my travel checklist and contains suggestions for you. Every trip with safaris, game drives, and bush walks is different – also the weather.

So think about what you really need. This way you can reduce your luggage list and save yourself a lot of equipment and unnecessary kilos of luggage.

Do you have any other safari gear or equipment that should be on the checklist?

We always welcome feedback. Tell us what gear and clothing is on your safari packing list.

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