Packing for an African Safari – the ‘Big 5’ Do’s and Don’ts!

Claire BirtwhistleSafari Tips

Packing for a safari can be a tricky task, especially if you’re a first timer.

From unpredictable weather patterns, to not knowing what you’ll need when you’re there, it’s easy to over pack. Unfortunately, luggage space is not often a luxury that one is afforded on safari. Baggage weight restrictions on small aircrafts are often very limiting (sometimes only 15kg per person) so packing light is the most vital aspect. Over the years we’ve picked on some valuable ‘do’s and don’ts’ when it comes to packing for a safari. Here are a few of them to help get you started:

Do use a durable canvas holdall rather than hard suitcase as this can be easily squeezed into tight spaces like that back of your game vehicle. Some light aircrafts will also only accept soft bags and the weight limit can be as little as 15kg per person so make sure not to pack every item of clothing in your closet! Most safari lodges offer a laundering service so packing a different item for each day is completely unnecessary. Think light, sensible and comfortable. Neutral colours like khaki, green and brown work well but avoid wearing black, white or vibrant colours. Long sleeved shirts and long pants work the best as they provide protection from sun and insects.

FAmily and guide

Don’t fuss too much about bringing along lots of toys and games if you’re travelling with children. Safari lodges often have board games and books available and offer specialised activities to keep kiddies busy on safari. Most lodges also have their own pools so don’t forget to pack swimming costumes!


Do bring appropriate footwear. As shoes can be heavy and add weight and bulk to your luggage, be very selective in which shoes you want to bring. We recommend a pair of light trail shoes and also a pair of sandals. If you’re doing a walking trail in a wet or forest area, then a pair of waterproof hiking boots are the best option.

xugana walking palm island

Don’t bring every piece of photographic gear that you own. Rather only pack exactly what you’ll need and don’t forget your camera charger! Other gadgets such as hairdryers can also take up a lot of space so make sure you research where you’ll be staying as many safari lodges will offer things like this in the rooms.

Taking photos by vehicle

Do pack a wide-brimmed hat (preferably with a chin strap to avoid it blowing away), sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun during the day. At night, some insect repellent and a torch will be your best friends.

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While there is no exact formula for packing the perfect safari suitcase, we hope that these tips give you a useful guideline to help you get started packing for your African safari adventure!

About the Author
Avatar for Claire Birtwhistle

Claire Birtwhistle

Born and raised in the bush in South Africa, Claire has grown up with a deep love for wildlife and enjoys nothing more than immersing herself in nature. When she's not barefoot outside, she can be found at her computer blogging about adventures and editing her photographs.