What to pack for an African safari

When packing for an African safari put in mind the chilly early morning game drives and dusty roads. Because of this, you may get a bit dirtier and need layers of clothes to avoid the chills. You’ll need to pack lightly if you’re travelling from one park to another and change lodges.

Most lodges and camps will wash your clothes for free or a small fee ($2 – $3) within a few hours. Loose fitting, casual and comfortable clothing is recommended, as you will be spending the majority of your safari wildlife viewing in a vehicle.

Packing a smallish duffel bag is better. Flash light, binoculars, hats and sunglasses are as important as a good camera with extra batteries. For travel journalists packing roll-top water proof bag instead of your usual camera bag may be advised to protect your equipment from water and dust.

How to dress for gorilla tracking and Chimpanzee trekking

For Chimpanzee and Gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda when you will need light weight walking boots and sturdy clothing (like long sleeve shirts and shirts) to protect yourself from scratches, irritating vegetation as you go through streams in the forest while you trek the primates. A pair of protective gardening or leather gloves is required.

How to dress for your safari

There is less opportunity for fashion while on a safari to but you may carry a nice outfit for a special dinner. Casual wear is advised for evening but you need to be warm and comfortable for the low temperatures in the night and avoid those. Put in mind the high temperatures during the day and avoid very bright colours.
Below is the recommended African Safari packing list:

Must haves on a safari

  • Passport
  • Plane tickets
  • Emergency contact documents
  • Money (Dollars and Local currency)
  • Credit card
  • Safari itinerary
  • Journal/notebook and pen

What to wear for women & men

  • T-shirts and light tops
  • Long sleeve shirts or blouses
  • Sweater / fleece
  • One pair of comfortable walking shorts (sneakers or light weight hiking boots)
  • Shorts
  • Cotton trousers/pants
  • A cotton wrap (great to wear during the afternoon siesta, buy locally if you can)
  • Cotton socks and underwear
  • Sports bras (for bumpy roads)
  • Very thin waterproof raincoat if traveling during the wet season
  • Sunglasses (for the dust as well as bright sun)
  • Pajama pants for the chilly nights
  • Hat with chin strap (to avoid it blowing off your head and into the bush)
  • Swimsuit
  • Lightweight, durable, waterproof shoes
  • Flip flops or sandals for around camp, (or to wear in the shower)

Toiletries/First Aid

Every camp or lodge will have a basic first aid kit on hand, and most safari vehicles will too (especially those operated by higher end camps). But it’s handy to bring your own small supply of hand gel, band aids, aspirin etc…

  • Personal toiletries in small travel size, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant etc.
  • Sunscreen
  • Aspirin/Motrin/Tylenol for pain/headaches
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Mosquito Repellant
  • Ziplock bags (to keep things like your camera dry or free of dust and your dirty clothes separate)
  • Tampons/Pads for women (panty-liners are a must since you’ll be drip drying after peeing in the bush on game drives!)
  • Antiseptic gel (handy for washing your hands when there’s no water around)
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Band aids with antiseptic cream
  • Prescription medications
  • Spare glasses if you wear contacts (because it’s often too dusty to wear them comfortably)


  • Converter plug to fit local sockets so you can recharge your phone, camera battery, i-Pad
  • Small Flashlight (when walking to and from your room at night, and to use inside your tent)
  • Camera (with zoom lenses)
  • Extra memory card for your camera (you’ll take more video and photos than you ever thought possible)
  • Binoculars (high end camps should have a spare pair in the safari vehicles for you to use)
  • Spare batteries and/or battery charger
  • I-Pad or similar device for your books, to store your photos, alarm clock, and sound recording (fun if you have a lot of wildlife around your camp/lodge at night, it gets loud!)
  • Cell phone with local plan (optional, but handy to connect with family/friends back home. Most camps will not have wi-fi, but will have a cell phone connection)

Packing to support communities

Some accommodations now support local community initiatives neighboring the wildlife parks, reserves and concession areas. Please ask if you can bring any school supplies, medical supplies, clothing or other light objects that will help these projects.