A safari in Africa is one of the most exciting events in one’s lifetime. It can also be a bit uncertain considering the reports portrayed by the media about the living conditions in Africa. One thing is for sure, times are changing in Africa is catching up with the rest of the world in terms of economic growth.
When one has no experience about Africa or it’s environs but still wants to go on a safari, it becomes even hard to know what exactly they should carry or the correct documentation to carry. Well, I will go through a general African Safari checklist just to highlight some important items and documents you must carry on your trip.
Just to note that Africa is a continent with 54 countries, each with their own by-laws and needs. Not all the countries can be considered for a safari, but if you are planning to visit more than one country, always be sure to have the required documentations and visas for each.
You must have a valid passport, at least 6 months before expiry and should have at least 2 blank pages for stamping on. International flight ticket, where some countries require you to print out a ticket and attach a copy of your passport.
Some countries require vaccinations to be done like the yellow fever and always carry your vaccination certificate with you to produce on request.
It is also prudent that all your immunizations are up to date. Like for hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, rabies, meningitis, malaria etc as specified by the country you are visiting.
In case of any health condition, make sure your doctor gives you a clean bill of health before travel, or gives you the necessary prescription to carry.
If you intend to use your visa card, kindly make sure you inform your bank that you will be transacting while overseas so as not to block your transactions. But also consider carrying some cash as some remote areas might not support visa card.
Just like any other vacation, a safari is a dress down moment. Hence, casual wear is the way to go, you don’t have to wear like you are participating on an Out of Africa movie though.
Consider full sleeve tops preferably cotton, they should be light as it is always warm and easy to dry up in case of being rained on. Add in some khaki or sweat pants for bottoms, trousers or shorts. You can include one or two jackets for the evenings do get cold and windy.
Avoid white colored clothes as the dusty terrains might not work well, also avoid black and dark blue clothes as they tend to attract tsetse fly and other bugs.
Never forget toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, unscented lotion. Most hotel have hair dryer so you can opt to skip that or choose a hairstyle that does not need much work. Add in swimming costumes enough to last for your stay
A sun hat is a must have, sunscreen, sunglasses to protect yourself from the hot African sun. For your feet, consider comfortable closed shoes if going for game drives or hiking boots if you intend to hike or trek. Add in some sandals or flip-flop for relaxing in the hotel or by the pool.
Check more on My Safari Bag
Well when traveling international, make sure you maintain the set luggage size limit. Most safari vans have enough room for your luggage whatever size. The trick comes if you are scheduled to take a private charter flight from the main airport to a remote area.
Some small flights have a luggage limit which is usually no longer than 26 inches with no wheels and not exceeding 20kgs(44lbs). If you exceed this, you need to pay for an extra seat or wait for a flight that has space enough for your bag.
Include a small bag pack for your camera, batteries, adapters and other necessities that is waterproof and easy to clean in case of excess dust.
This can include a good camera with extra lenses, memory card for those great photos. Binoculars can also be added especially if you intend to do bird watching while in your safari.
You can come with your phone or iPad and laptop as most hotels and lodges have WiFi connections and its possible to keep in touch with your friends and family. Include some extra batteries and a converter plug that can fit to all sockets for charging you gadgets. Add in a small flashlight or torch especially if you are going camping.
First Aid Kit
Though most hotels and lodges have first aid kits, you cannot be sure and it is advisable to carry your own items. This includes things like painkillers which is highly recommended by many travel agents. Some anti-malaria tabs, antihistamine for bites and stings reaction. Antidiarrhoeal medication and a sunscreen or sun burn treatment ointment.
For ladies don’t forget tampons or sanitary pads. You can add in panty liners since you might find yourself going to the toilet in the bush while on game drives. Hand sanitizers or wet wipe napkins will come in handy if water is not accessible.
You can add in band-aids and an antiseptic cream especially if planning on hiking or mountain climbing. You may consider alternating eye contact lenses with eye glasses as contacts don’t do well in dusty terrains.
Check out more on Packing list for an African Safari
Extra information to keep in mind while on safari
- It is not a must but it is always expected to tip your travel guide and any other person who helps you through your safari.
- It is better to exchange your money to local currency in any of your transaction to avoid being ripped off.
- Be cautious of your safety, if advised not to leave a car while on a game drive or not to take safari walks without a guide, please adhere to this.
- Avoid wearing camouflage clothes, these are military uniform in most African countries and sometimes they are worn by poachers. Hence, avoid being considered as suspicious.
- It better to get a good camera to zoom in especially when taking wildlife photographs as you may not be able to get too close to the animals at some instances.
The list is not exhaustive depending on the country you intend to visit. You can add more things to consider on the comment section below. Be it from experience or what you cannot do without when in Africa, you never know who needs this information.