Putting together your African Safari Packing list but don’t know where to start? In this guide we will round up what to wear on safari, what not to wear on safari and everything else non clothing that you should pack with you to go on safari in Africa.
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Ultimate African Safari Packing List (Clothing)
Tips for Packing for an African Safari
When you are wondering what to wear on an African safari and putting together your African Safari packing list there are a few things that you will need to consider:
Mosquitos and other insects
Mosquitos will be one of the more dangerous things you come into contact with when on an African Safari as I am sure you are aware they can carry and cause malaria which can be deadly in humans. Also depending on where in Africa you are traveling to you may also be worried about the Tsete Fly which can cause sleeping sickness.
It is really important to think about how to deter mosquitos when putting together your African Safari packing list by adding plenty of long sleeve, long length items so there is less flesh on show.
Also when thinking about how to deter insects you need to really consider the best colors to wear on safari. My advice is to stick to neutral colors and absolutely avoid blue and black which can attract mosquitos. Keeping to this color palette will also help you create a safari capsule wardrobe.
Even if you are traveling to equatorial Africa you will find that you may experience rain and cooler weather in the mornings. Be sure to plan for both cooler temperatures but also the heat when packing for African safaris.
As well as insects you may encounter other hazards in Africa if you are going on a safari especially if you are going on a walking safari.
You will want to make sure you have shoes with a good sole, gloves and other coverings to protect you from thorns and other sharp or stinging plants.
If you are traveling for your safari on small aircrafts, which can be one of the best ways to get off the beaten track and out into the wild to see the animals, you will really need to consider the weight of your baggage.
These light aircraft often have strict luggage allowances so be sure you don’t make a mistake and overpack.
It is always important to pack hand luggage correcting, whether on a carry on for a cruise embarkation day or on an African safari. For an African safari you will need all your relevant documentation and medications.
We also recommend wearing one pair of safari clothes on your journey rather than your normal air plane outfit. The reason for this is incase your luggage gets lost – as ours did – yikes! If you are wearing some safari clothes you will at least be safe and practical until you are reunited with your luggage.
Note: While this safari capsule wardrobe is applicable for anywhere in AFrica, if you want a country specific packing list check out our dedicated guides:
What to wear on an African Safari Packing List (Clothing)
Long Sleeve Tops
It is really important when traveling to go on Safari in Africa that you pack to protect yourself from mosquitos.
No matter the time of day or the weather conditions I recommend only ever wearing long sleeve tops. I would have a mix of thicker and also very lightweight long sleeve tops with you from cotton long sleeve tops to linen blouses or shirt which you can use to align with the weather without ever compromising your safety with a short sleeve.
I recommend wearing hiking trousers when on a safari. I would try and keep these zipped up at all times again to protect against mosquitos and other insects. However it is good to have the zippable ones in case you do find you need to cool off your legs quickly but also as it makes them easier to wash if only the bottom half of your trousers get muddy.
When picking hiking trousers for safari I would recommend you look for:
- Lightweight – it can get hot when walking so you don’t want anything too thick
- Quick Dry – quick dry will make you more comfortable and depending on where you are staying will depend what laundry facilities you will have so having something quick dry will be a great help.
- Zippable – again great for doing laundry quickly
For any type of safari although especially important for those doing walking safaris I recommend taking a pair of good quality i.e. has a good strong sole, waterproof hiking boots.
These will protect your feet best from any sharp thorns or hazards on the floor.
There is nothing worse than getting a blister while out on a hike. Be sure to pack plenty of thick or cushioned hiking socks and make sure you have worn in your boots before you arrive for your gorilla trekking experience.
Wide Brimmed Hat
A wide brimmed hat will offer you protection from sun and rain both of which you are likely to experience on an African safari
Depending when and where you are going on safari you may want to add gaiters to your safari packing list as they are best used in muddy or rainy conditions.
Gaiters for those who don’t know are an added layer on top of your trousers that can stop you getting muddy but also add an added layer of protection from thorns and nettles etc.
Gaiters should normally go above your knees and be waterproof. It is also best to get an adjustable pair to make sure you are comfortable.
If you are doing a walking safari or some sort of trek, gorilla trekking for insane. You will want a pair of gloves with you for protection.
I personally recommend a good thick pair of gardening gloves as they tend to offer the most and best protection.
Poncho or Waterproof Jacket
Although I would normally say buy proper waterproof jacket for hiking in wet weather conditions, a poncho might be more suitable for African safaris.
The rain isn’t usually constant and you will get sweaty hiking so you want something that is easy to get on and off.
Light Weight Fleece
This is perfect for early starts or for evenings in the lodge. And the bonus is this warm layer will not cost you much in luggage weight.
Set of Evening Clothes for dinner
Now depending on when and where you are staying during your African safari will dictate what you need for evenings for dinner etc. Be sure to check your lodge Dress code so you know what to wear in the evening.
For our guide to what on wear for dinner on safari check out this post.
Long length PJs
Mosquitos are most active at night. Be sure to protect yourself from mosquitos by having length length (in both arms and legs) pyjamas as this will help prevent you being bitten.
Goes without saying.
When we were in Africa all of our lodges had a pool and therefore we would use our swimwear everyday. If you lodges have pools, jacuzzis or even saunas be sure to pack your swimwear so you don’t miss out.
What not to wear on safari
Now you know what to wear on safari, I will briefly tell you things that you should definitely leave off your packing list clothes wise.
If you bring sneakers you will want to only have these on at the lodge and in the car. Sneakers are not suitable for walking safaris or treks.
For more information on the best shoes for safaris click here.
As I mentioned before blue and black are big no nos because they attract mosquitos. There are other colors that you shouldn’t wear such as white and bright colors too. You can find out more on the best colors for safari here.
Camouflage is illegal in many countries in Africa outside of the military. Be sure to leave any camouflage at home when traveling to Africa.
Short Sleeve Tops
Anything that exposes more flesh than is necessary is adding a risk for getting mosquito bites. Therefore we recommend leaving anything with a short sleeve off your packing list.
Mosquitos are most active at night. Don’t undo your work during the day protecting yourself from mosquitos by having lots of flesh on show at night.
What to Pack for an African Safari (non clothing)
On top of clothing there are many things that you need to pack for your African safari such as:
We recommend taking malaria tablets with you on safari in Africa. Be sure to pack the right amount for your trip along with any other medications you need.
Many places in Africa will require 6 months of validity left on your passport. Be sure to check the validity on your passports before you travel.
On top of that be sure to have any other documentation a country requires i.e. many countries in Africa require you to have proof of Yellow Fever vacation before they allow you to enter the country. Also many will require proof of exit, or return journeys.
Be sure you have checked entry requirements stipulated by your chosen country (countries) and have the paper and digital documentation ready and in your hand luggage ready to show to immigration as required.
Camera and Lens
Trust me when I say that you will want to take many many photographs when on a safari in Africa. Be sure to have a good camera and if you require them additional lens.
You will go through lots of battery on an African Safari. Be sure to bring extra power packs and batteries to get you through charging periods.
Chargers and Adaptors
Be sure to have all the chargers for all your electronic devices with you and be sure to have a plug adaptor, depending on where you are traveling from and to will depend on what type you will need.
As you have probably realised, insects are one of the main things you need to consider when packing. Be sure to pack plenty of insect repellant. And a strong one at that.
Though many places in Africa will offer mosquito nets in your room, if yours doesn’t or you are worried about the quality be sure to pack one to take with you.
First Aid Kit
Though many reputable companies and lodges will have first aid kits as standards I always recommend carrying your own travel first aid kit with you just in case.
The sun can be strong in Africa, especially if you are in an equatorial country or are doing a safari in summer. Therefore pack plenty of suncream.
This is very important when out on safaris on long days so you can clean your hands before eating.
We recommend taking your own travel size toiletries with you as wells tooth paste and tooth brushes etc as when out in the bush these are hard to come by.
Depending on when and where you are traveling will depend how rainy and wet you can expect it to be. We always recommend taking a backpack that is waterproof with you to protect your belongings should you get caught in a rainstorm.
Handy for out on long days.
Depending on your lodge and activities you may be getting up very early in a place with no electricity. For moving around your resort site or on early morning treks a headlamp can be very useful.
Not everywhere you go in Africa will be a cashless country. Be sure to have some local currency with you and a way of keeping it safe.
If you use them
The wildlife is spectacular on a safari. The big 5 are always fan favourites however you should not overlook the monkey and birdwatching on safari. To see these in all their glory you will want a good pair of binoculars with you.
FAQS about this African Safari Packing List
Can you wear shorts on safari?
While there are no rules to say that you can’t wear shorts on safari we do not recommend it. On a walking safari you will want to protect your legs from thorns, nettles and branches that may cut or sting you and at other times you will want to protect yourself from mosquitos. It is therefore advisable to not wear shorts but rather wear long trousers instead.
Can you take a suitcase on safari?
Again there is nothing stopping you taking a suitcase on safari we don’t recommend it especially if you re traveling on a light aircraft to your lodge.
If you are using a light aircraft they will have strict weight allowances and you don’t want a heavy suitcase taking up much of your allowance.
What kind of bag do I need for safari?
As we don’t recommend a suitcase on safari what type of luggage should you use? We recommend fabric soft sided luggage that is more lightweight.
Are jeans OK for safari?
Jeans are not a great choice for safari for several reasons. One they aren’t very flexible when walking around and traveling on safari. They aren’t breathable so you can get very hot and thirdly they do not dry quickly if you get stuck in a rain shower.
Therefore we recommend that you leave the jeans at home rather than bringing on an African safari with you.
Should you wear camouflage on safari?
No, you definitely should leave camouflage at home and not wear it on safari. Camouflage is illegal to wear outside of the military in many African countries so don’t take a chance and leave this behind.
Do you have anything you would like to see added to this African safari packing List? Leave us a comment below