Thinking of heading out into the savanna on an African safari? Having just traveled on our Tanzania Wildlife Safari in May, my first piece of advice to you is: Do it! This will be one of the most thrilling trips you will ever take in your life. Between the beautiful scenery and remarkable wildlife, there’s so much to experience. Here are a few pointers to help you prepare for your time out in the bush.
I have the worst luck with airlines losing my bags, so for this trip I knew I didn’t want to check any luggage. I’m happy to report that it is actually possible to get away with only packing a carry on for a 12-day safari. The secret? Finding the right bag and only bringing what you need. For me, this meant packing a t-shirt for each day plus three pairs of pants that I could rotate through, as well as limiting myself to one pair of sneakers plus some sandals to wear around the hotels. A good way to keep things under control is to make a list of everything you want to bring with you and then cut it in half—down to the bare bones. It also helps that Africa is for the most part a warm-weather destination, and light weight clothing takes up minimal space in your duffle.
Don’t forget the bug spray.
To keep pesky insects like the infamous tsetse fly at bay, it’s important to bring plenty of insect repellant. If you’re checking a bag, you’ll be able to bring full-sized spray cans with you. However, if you’re like me and want to go straight carry-on, this is for you: Repellant wipes will be your new best friend. Yes, you can get travel-sized bug spray cans (I recommend Off Deep Woods) that are TSA compliant, but they’ll need to go in your quart-sized bag for liquids. In other words, you won’t have space for more than one. The benefit of wipes is that they’re compact, easy to use, and you can bring as many as you want! These Ben’s wipes are what I used.
For extra pest protection, consider spraying your clothes with permethrin before you go.
Rent a camera and lens.
I can’t stress this enough, having a camera that’s up to the task of snapping some good nature shots is so important when you’re out on game drives. While you’ll be able to get some great panoramas and landscape shots with your trusty smartphone camera, wildlife is best captured through a telephoto lens. Don’t own a DSLR or long lens? That’s ok! Renting one (or both) is an economical alternative to spending the big bucks on your own setup. Plus, it’s easy. There are a handful of online shops that you can rent from, but the folks over at LensProToGo are friendly, knowledgeable, and have great customer service. And what’s more, they’ll ship equipment anywhere in the United States.
You’ll get “off the grid.”
Sometimes, it’s nice to just “unplug” and disconnect yourself from your devices. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that on safari, and honestly, it’s refreshing. Wi-Fi connections aren’t the strongest or most reliable out in the bush (even at some hotels), so you’ll have more time to really soak in all of the remarkable sights and experiences your trip has in store.
Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Bucket list trip, once-in-a-lifetime experience—they both apply. Whether it’s watching the sun rise over the Serengeti plains, seeing a leopard with its kill high up in a tree, or dancing with the Masai people, the experiences you’ll have on safari are the kind that will stay with you forever. It’s hard to put into words just how extraordinary of a place Africa is, but once you’re there you’ll know what I mean.
Already been on safari? What are some of your tips for making the most of your time in Africa? Let us know in the comments!