Packing & What to Wear
Layering is the key on your African safari adventure. Early mornings game drives can often get pretty chilly so you may need a fleece or warm jacket, even in the warmer months. Underneath, I would recommend a breathable cotton long sleeve shirt. The long sleeves act as additional protection from the sun and insects. A warm hat, like a beanie, and gloves are also essential. Sitting in an open vehicle may get really windy and while lodges sometimes provide blankets, it’s best to be prepared.
The sun can be strong in the summer so it’s best to pack sunscreen and a hat that provides adequate cover. You don’t want to end up with a sunburn like I did! The sun isn’t the only thing you need to protect your skin from and insect repellent will help keep exposed skin bite free.
Remember to pack casual, comfortable clothing and shoes (don’t forget socks!) for safari. Light and warm colors are preferable, especially if you are going for walking safaris. Open sports sandals may also be appropriate for general daytime use in the warmer months and bring your swimsuit, as a number of lodges and camps have swimming pools. I also like to prepared for anything with a light, compact raincoat.
With travel to any foreign country, you need to be aware of diseases you might be exposed to and precautions you should be taking. Some countries may even require you have have proof of specific vaccinations before your arrival. A good place to start is vaccines.gov where the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has created a helpful guide for travelers. You should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for additional information.
You also want to be sure to pack some your everyday medicines from home to treat allergies, migraines, etc. Most lodges only have a curio shops on site and most of them do not sell over the counter medicines. Be sure to check regulations in the countries you will be traveling through, just because a drug is legal for use at home doesn’t mean it is allowed at you destination.
Water is usually potable in the Lodge, but I would recommend drinking bottled water.
Talk to your guide openly; ask them questions you can learn a lot from trackers and drivers. Most guides are extremely knowledgeable and will share as much as they know. My Guide knew the names of the constellations and taught us how to recognize them! He also knew all the bird species we were seeing on the way! Safari is not just about the big five, there is so much more to discover.
Pack extra power and memory cards. The last thing you want is a dead camera battery in the middle of a game drive. It happened to me while trying to take a picture of a lion yawning right in front of us! Can you imagine how upset I was? Also, remember that bright lights will disturb wild animals, flash photography is not allowed.
Be patient! Every safari is unique regarding which animals are spotted. Hours can go by where it seems like there’s absolutely nothing to see. I once was on a safari where we sent almost two hours looking for Buffalo, and found myself getting impatient and frustrated as it was almost time to return to the lodge for breakfast. It felt like we had wasted all that time and saw nothing. What I didn’t consider was how much was going on around us and what other things there were to see like the birds, insects, and smaller animals that live in this unique landscape.
Even the best planned trips can experience unexpected disruptions. Consider investing in travel insurance to assist you with unexpected expenses and emergencies. Learn more about DSA Vacations travel insurance.
Enjoy your safari! Whether this is your first safari trip or your tenth, soak in the beauty around you and really live in the moment. Remember sometimes it’s best to put the camera down and experience life without the filter of a camera lens.
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