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What to Pack for an East Africa Safari

The following packing list contains general recommendations for an East Africa safari. If you are currently booked on a safari with Nat Hab, please consult your pre-departure materials for the most up-to-date packing list specific to your trip, as packing recommendations vary based on the season. You will receive these pre-departure materials 60-90 days before your departure.

Simplify your packing—shop at Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some key items recommended for your adventure. Look for this icon in the list below, then go to the Nat Hab Gear Store to start shopping.

ADVENTURE-SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

  • A daypack/backpack to carry cameras and other items is handy while on wildlife drives and activities.
  • While on safari, it is suggested (although not required) that you do not wear bright or white-colored clothing, as it can sometimes spook the animals. In addition, army camouflage uniforms and hats are forbidden (although khaki is fine).
  • We recommend that you wear light-colored, lightweight clothing, especially in Tanzania, to reduce your chances of being bitten by tsetse flies.
  • We ask that you refrain from bringing hair dryers, irons, radios, excess clothing or toiletries, etc. All points of this adventure are quite casual, and we recommend that you keep your luggage down to the basics. Also, please remember not to pack your essentials in your checked luggage, in case it is delayed or lost by the airlines.
  • While on safari, many people choose to wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day and change to long-sleeved shirts and long pants in the evening, for warmth as well as protection from mosquitoes. Should you be particularly sensitive to the sun, a loose, long-sleeved cotton shirt is essential for wildlife drives during the day.
  • How to dress for different seasons:
    — June through September – These months are usually dry, although you should always be prepared for unseasonable weather. Conditions on this adventure can range from warm, dry and dusty to quite cool evenings and mornings. Remember, just because it is Africa does not mean it is always warm. We recommend dressing in layers with a fleece pullover, jacket/windbreaker, gloves and hat during the winter months of June through September. This way, you can take off clothing as the sun warms throughout the day.
    — October and December through March – These months are mostly dry with a slight chance of rain edging up to the short rains of November and the long rains of April and May. We recommend dressing in layers with a fleece pullover, jacket/windbreaker and lightweight clothing. This way, you can take off layers as the sun warms throughout the day. Conditions on this adventure can range from hot, dry and dusty to cool, overcast rain showers. We highly recommend you bring a lightweight rain jacket or poncho and rain pants, as occasional showers are likely.
    — November and April/May – The short rains occur in November and the long rains in April/May. Conditions can range from hot, dry and dusty to daily downpours. Be prepared with lightweight clothing suitable for hot and sunny days. We highly recommend you bring a lightweight rain jacket or poncho and rain pants, as afternoon showers are likely.
  • Due to the high elevation (7,000-8,000 feet), the temperature on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater can range between 55° and 75°F during the day and can drop to as low as 40°F at night. When staying in the Ngorongoro Highlands, temperatures can get quite cold. We strongly recommend bringing a light jacket, sweater or fleece, a long pair of pants and something warm to sleep in. If you are especially sensitive to cooler weather, you may also want a hat and gloves. Some camps provide space heaters, but it’s also wise to be prepared with warm layers and warm pajamas. Temperatures at the bottom of the crater are much warmer than those at the rim.
  • Inside the Ngorongoro Crater, dust can be a nuisance. To avoid excessive contact, we recommend wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt while on your wildlife drive, in addition to bringing a bandana or some kind of facemask to keep the dust off of your skin.
  • We advise protecting yourself against the strong sun by wearing a wide brim hat and using sunscreen.
  • Plastic grocery bags are banned in both Kenya and Tanzania, so you will not be allowed to bring them into either country. Fines may be levied if these are found in your possession by customs officials. Please keep this in mind as you are packing. Also, remove any duty free items that have been sealed in plastic bags and leave the bags on the plane.
  • The customs and culture of East Africa, especially in coastal areas and Zanzibar, are conservative. Revealing or very tight clothing should be avoided, however tank tops/sleeveless shirts are acceptable for women to wear while on safari, so please feel free to bring them.

 

CLOTHING

  • Lightweight, “breathable,” windproof outer shell or jacket 
  • Lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket, rain pants & inexpensive rain poncho (not needed June through September)  
  • 1-2 sweaters, sweatshirts or fleece pullovers
    — If traveling June through September, it is a good idea to bring two so that one can be worn if the other needs to be washed. During these months, evenings and early mornings can be very chilly, so warm layers are key.
  • Warm hat, gloves & scarf or neck gaiter
  • Lightweight, low-cut hiking/walking shoes
    — If you plan to participate in nature walks, closed-toe shoes are required.
  • Extra pair of shoes and/or sport sandals
    — During the cooler months of June through September, you may want a second pair of comfortable closed-toe shoes as it can be quite cold, especially during wildlife drives. Sandals may still be worn while in camp, however you may decide to get by without them in order to save space in your luggage.
    — During the warmer months of October through May, we find that Teva-type sandals can be very comfortable on wildlife drives, and are practical since they tend to dry quickly.
  • 2-3 T-shirts or polo-style shirts
  • 2 lightweight, long-sleeved shirts
  • 2-4 pairs of long pants (or nylon, zip-off pants—practical for cool mornings and warmer afternoons)
  • Swimsuit (optional)
    — Some of the camps have swimming pools.
  • Sleepwear
  • Hat with brim (for sun protection)
  • Socks
    — Moisture-resistant/moisture-wicking are preferred for safari walks and longer hikes. Smartwool is a comfortable brand.
  • Undergarments
  • Bandana or neck buff
    — Optional—to protect from dust and/or sun exposure while on wildlife drives
  • Polypropylene or silk thermal underwear—tops and bottoms (only needed June through September)

 

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

  • Cash
    — For discretionary gratuities (you may want to bring envelopes for discreet presentation)
    — For personal spending (souvenirs, Internet use or food and beverages not included in your trip fee)
  • Binoculars
    — Binoculars are definitely a must! We strongly suggest that each client bring his or her own pair of binoculars, as you will be using them continuously while on wildlife drives. If possible, we highly recommend investing in a good quality pair. Initially, the cost may be higher, but it definitely will enhance your wildlife viewing experience. You will get the most out of them if you practice using them at home and make a habit of having them with you regularly on the adventure. Waterproof binoculars work well, but are not required. 
  • Water bottle
  • Insect repellent and anti-itch ointment
    — Repellent is provided at virtually all of our camps, so you only need to bring it if you wish to use a specific brand.
    — Repellents containing DEET are the most effective against mosquitoes, but please be aware that DEET is a very strong ingredient which can damage plastics, clothing and equipment.
  • Outlet adapter and/or power converter
  • Sunglasses (with U.V. filter and secure strap)
    — In addition to being helpful for sun protection, sunglasses can also be useful eye protection on walks or drives in the bush.
  • Headlamp or small flashlight
    — Flashlights are provided at nearly all of our camps, but depending upon the number of travelers, there may only be one per tent. We recommend that each traveler bring a small but powerful flashlight (or headlamp) to have for personal use.
  • Earplugs
  • Shampoo, conditioner & soap/body wash
    — Only if you wish to use a specific brand. These items are provided free of charge at all of our accommodations.
  • Lotion
    — Lotion is provided free of charge at most of our accommodations, so you only need to bring your own if you wish to ensure its use throughout the itinerary or if you use a specific brand.
  • Toothbrush & paste
  • Deodorant
  • Brush or comb
  • Sunscreen & lip balm (at least SPF15)
    — If your itinerary includes swimming or snorkeling in the ocean, please consider reef-safe sunscreens to protect the delicate underwater environment. Some brands include Coral Safe, Badger, Raw Elements and Blue Lizard.
  • Prescription medications & favorite remedies
    — For headaches, colds, upset stomach, skin irritations, diarrhea, etc.
    — If you are prone to motion sickness you may want to bring your favorite remedy for small plane transfers.
  • Small medical kit
    — Only the basics or special medicines. All of the camps and vehicles have kits for use, should it be necessary.
  • Electrolyte/flavor crystal packets (optional)
    — Can be added to water to replace fluids in case of intestinal illness and/or enhance the taste to encourage hydration.
  • Prescription glasses/contact lenses
  • Hand sanitizer and/or hand wipes
  • Battery-operated alarm clock/wristwatch
  • Reusable waterproof bags
    — Several sizes for wet or dirty clothing and to protect camera equipment. Again, do not bring plastic grocery bags, as they are banned in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Sewing kit

    Header Credit: Melissa Scott 
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