September 6th, 2018

What to take (and what not to take) on safari

Written by:

Toby Pheasant


Safari 101


We often get asked what are the most useful things to take on safari... 

Other than the obvious essentials (passport, visa, glasses etc), it can be hard to know what to pack!

If you’re going to be flying between lodges in a light aircraft, be aware that there’s a strict weight limit on luggage (normally 15kg, sometimes with hand luggage included) in soft-sided bags

As tempting as it is to take a bluetooth speaker or your favourite slippers, it’s sometimes just not practical.

Your safari awaits

Most ‘what to pack on safari’ articles will drum into you that you can only wear khaki or neutral colours when out in the bush. Whilst this is true if you’re planning on doing lots of walking safaris, you shouldn’t worry about going out and buying a completely new wardrobe.

As a general rule, loose fitting, natural fibre clothing of any colour works best for game drives and boat cruises. Be prepared for chilly mornings and evenings, even in the height of summer. The day heats up quickly though - the trick is to use layers.

The items of clothing and accessories we’ve listed below are what we consider to be the most useful on safari. From experience, they’ll make your trip more comfortable and ultimately more enjoyable.

Packing the right things is essential to your enjoyment and comfort


  • Hat - wide brim/cap for summer, woolly hat for winter
  • Scarf - some lodges provide kikois - useful for putting over your arms or knees in the midday sun
  • T-shirt/polo shirt
  • Collared long sleeve loose cotton shirts (ladies blouse) – great for sun and mozzie protection
  • Couple of smarter linen shirts for dinner
  • Jumpers - thin and thick options to layer
  • Fleece/gilet - it can get very chilly in the mornings and evenings on the game drives
  • Light waterproof jacket - even in summer/dry season, you never know. Some lodges provide ponchos, but we advise to arrive prepared.
  • Trousers – chinos work well or normal trousers are fine. Consider a pair that are resilient to thorns if you’re walking. Jeans get a bit hot (ladies should wear long trousers in the evenings to save legs from hungry mozzies)
  • Shorts
  • Sports bra for ladies
  • Swimming trunks/costume/bikini
  • Underwear – please note that while most lodges offer laundry services, many will not wash underwear for cultural reasons
  • Gloves – for winter
  • Socks – thin and thick
  • Closed shoes – don’t feel as though you need to buy hiking shoes unless you are doing lots of walking. Lighter closed shoes with thick soles, such as desert boots work well
  • A second pair of comfy shoes to wear around camp such as flip flops or espadrilles (Toms)

An east African safari


It’s best to assume that you can’t buy anything once you’re out in the bush. Most lodges will have shampoo, conditioner and body wash, but please check with us beforehand.

Ladies: leave the hairdryers at home – many lodges won’t have electricity in the room. Those that do will unlikely have enough power to sustain a hairdryer - best to go ‘au naturel’!

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Suncream
  • Face wash
  • Moisturiser
  • Hair brush
  • Contact lens solution
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Face wipes
  • Razor/shaver/beard trimmer/tweezers
  • Sanitary products
  • Malaria medication
  • Any other medication

Other Essentials:

  • Head torch
  • Notebook/journal
  • Local area guide book
  • Sunglasses – sunglasses straps are very helpful if you plan to use your camera a lot
  • Prescription glasses – if you’re planning on wearing contact lenses it can get dusty
  • Camera batteries/phone chargers/power banks – don’t want to run out of juice!
  • Binoculars!!
  • Adaptors – some lodges will provide these, but it’s always useful to carry your own
  • Wildlife guide – for keen birders or any other interests. Please ask us for suggestions.
  • Cards/games/a good book – to enjoy in-between activities during the day
  • Passport, visa and travel documents

Polaroid pictures and compass are optional...

If you have any questions on what to take for your particular safari and/or what is included at your particular lodge or camp, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thanks for reading,

The Bonamy Travel Team

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