The word ‘safari’ is synonymous with wildlife. Consequently, game drives will be the main highlight of your safari vacation in Africa. The continent boasts hundreds of national parks and game reserves, all waiting to be uncovered by you.
You can go on scintillating game drives across Kenya’s Maasai Mara, Tanzania’s Serengeti, the Okavango in Botswana, or South Africa’s Kruger. Still on wildlife, there’s also the option of going on adventure-filled gorilla trekking tours to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.
Another special highlight during an Africa safari holiday is visiting enchanted beaches. And Africa has its fair share of those, from Diani Beach in East Africa to Umhlanga in South Africa, Banana Beach in West Africa, to mention but a few.
Africa is also famous for its desert hikes, an activity that’s almost exclusive to the northern and western regions of the continent. You can explore the vast wilderness of Sahara and Kalahari deserts as you make stopovers to some of the world’s ancient monuments and ruins.
So, wherever in Africa that your wanderlust spirit takes you, there will always be something to make your safari holiday an experience to cherish forever. But what are the 5 must pack items for a successful safari holiday in Africa?
This may sound a bit obvious, but your excitement to explore Africa’s wonderlands may cause you to forget the most essential things – your travel documents.
At the very least, ensure you have a passport and a visa. Different African countries have their own passport and visa policies. In most cases, you’ll be required to possess a passport with a minimum of two blank pages as well as six month’s validity.
Depending on your country of origin, you may enjoy visa-exempt privileges. Always check beforehand to ensure your country is classified under the visa-exempt category. But since you’ll likely be traversing different African countries, your best bet is to have both documents.
Other crucial travel documents you should have include:
- Travel insurance
- International Driver’s License
- Relevant proof of vaccination – Depends on the country you’re visiting. You can check with the World Health Organization website for further details.
- Travel itinerary
By now, you’ve already drafted your itinerary and have defined the regions that you wish to visit during your safari holiday in Africa. Much of Africa doesn’t experience real winters or summers. However, temperatures can still get excruciatingly hot or chilling cold, depending on where you visit and the time of year that you plan your trip. Packing the right clothing is paramount, especially considering flight weight restrictions that usually range from 20 to 39 kilograms.
The conventional wisdom is to pack minimal and give priority to earth-toned clothing, as African plains can be quite dusty. Insist on khaki and tan colors for game walks, since bright colors may startle the animals and cause them to retreat into the thickets.
As you avoid bright colors, also stay away from striped patterns of black or royal blue, since these often appeal to poisonous insects, such as tsetse flies. And if your itinerary includes night game drives, you might consider packing a fleece or windbreaker to counter the cool conditions then.
Much like clothing, the shoes you pack will depend on the kind of terrain you’re going to cover. Your local tour operator should enlighten you beforehand on what to expect, based on your travel itinerary.
For most walking safaris, you’ll do just fine with a pair of lightweight walking shoes. However, ensure they snugly fit around your feet, are of great thread, and come in earth-toned colors. Avoid white or neon shoes at all costs.
If you’re planning to trek dense forests and rough terrains, such as the Bwindi Impenetrable in Uganda, you’ll need to pack a pair of waterproof hiking boots. Not to mention, a waterproof jacket for the wet and moist forest conditions. And to counter the weight of the hiking boots, pack lightweight wool socks as well as lightweight trousers and fleece.
Hiking dense forests also comes with the risks of stinging vegetation, so consider a hat, garden gloves, and duct tape to cover your ankles.
I know you must have seen this coming. How else would you capture those rare and exotic moments? If you don’t already own a camera, this is the right time to invest in one.
A camera will enable you to capture Africa’s iconic animals in their raw elements. From prides of lionesses on the hunt in the Kruger to the mighty Nile crocodiles feasting on wildebeests during the historic Great Migration in Maasai Mara. Besides the amazing wildlife experiences, there will also be stunning landscapes, pristine oceans, and beautiful sunsets to photograph.
And as you pack your camera, also remember binoculars. A great pair of binoculars will especially come in handy when viewing wildlife on the move. Other things to pack along with the camera include a spare battery, a memory card, a small flashlight, chargers, and a power strip for charging all the electronics.
Prescription Medications and Preventive Pharmaceuticals
If you’re presently on prescription drugs, you should pack those too. And ensure you have enough medications to cover the entire duration of your vacation. Besides, always walk with your meds in your handbag wherever you go, as some tours can last for a week or more before retreating back to your hotel or campsite.
Along with prescription medications, there are also preventive pharmaceuticals to consider. Examples include;
- Malaria tablets
- Anti-nausea tablets
- Antihistamine tablets
- Cough and earache drops
- Insect repellents
It doesn’t matter when you’re planning your safari vacation to Africa, there will always be exciting things to do and see across the continent. However, making the most of your holiday will depend on what you pack. And even packing can be as exciting as the prep races for the Kentucky Derby horse race.
And while this post has highlighted some of the top things to factor into your packing list, there might be a lot more items to include, as you will find out from your local tour operator.