1. From dawn to dusk – cold to hot
Keep in mind that temperatures in Africa can drop down to near freezing degrees in the evening and last until morning. You will need an extra jacket and a scarf for the drives even though fleece blankets or ponchos are provided by the lodges on vehicles for your use on game drives. The wind in an open 4x4 can be quite extreme so wrap yourself up and be prepared!
One of the most important pieces of equipment that one should have on safari, aside from a camera, is a binocular. A guide should have a pair with them at all times, so you can kindly ask to borrow theirs. But if you are planning on going on several safari trips in the future, investing in a good one would be a great idea. Sure you can admire the animals from a distance but those with a binocular get the most out of their safari holiday.
3. Bring a powerbank
Although some vehicles may have USB sockets, keep in mind that you might not be the only one wanting to charge your phone. The game drive may be long over before it’s your turn so make sure to bring your own powerbank.
4. Remember to protect yourself from the sun
Sunscreen, sunglasses and wide hats should be your best friend while on a safari in Africa. I got sunburnt after spending a whole morning on a game drive.
5. First aid kit and prescription medication
Just in case the worst happens.. you get an upset stomach, a headache, a migraine, you cut yourself in the bushes or get rashes, it’s always better when you have your own first aid kit with you.
6. Insect repellent
Don’t forget insect repellent! It has saved me from bloodsucking mosquitoes repeatedly. I didn’t get bit on safari, however, I was like blood bank for these mosquitoes on Zanzibar in Tanzania.
7. Comfortable walking shoes (or boots) and socks
I usually wear ankle boots. Now some of you may think “that is ridiculous”, but the only time I left the vehicle was on our snack breaks. However, if you are doing the walking safaris, comfortable shoes and socks is everything!
8. Safari outfit – what to wear?
Neutral colors are more suitable for safari. It helps you remain unseen and it increases the chances of watching the animals in their natural habitat. Bright colours are not practical as they tend to stand out and are not advisable on walking safari.
Clothing colors should be chosen based on landscape and vegetation. If you’re heading to savannah and forest areas like Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Northern and Eastern South Africa wear darker green. For drier areas like Namibia, Botwana and Western South Africa then khaki and brown is more suitable. It’s not advisable to wear any form of camouflage clothing as it’s considered military and is forbidden in some African countries.
Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit – a number of lodges and camps have swimming pools. You can also pack a few elegantly casual outfits for dinner.
9. Leave your hard-shell luggage and suitcases at home
Some small planes or vehicles may have strict luggage restrictions. Therefore pack light and bring soft-sided duffle bags that are flexible enough to squeeze into a tiny storage compartment. If you are heading to Northern or Eastern South Africa and ride with Rhino Shuttles, hard-shell suitcases won’t be a problem.
10. Bring a small backpack or a bag
It’s very handy to store all your belongings in one place during a long safari ride. Make sure it closes well, the rough roads can be very bumpy.