In the interest of simplicity, we have separated out ‘What To Take’, from ‘What To Wear’, but in relation to both categories it is important to remember that there is usually a pretty tight weight limit when flying internally within Africa. Between two different countries, or between major destinations within a single country, this is often 15 kg, but for flights by light aircraft landing onto bush strips it can be as low as 12 kgs.
Now, this really isn’t very high, especially when it is realized that strictly this includes both hold and carry-on baggage. Hence the only official advice that we can give you is to travel light! Unofficially, all that we can do is to make the following personal observations.
Usually there is a, pretty reasonable surcharge per kg for the extra baggage, but the airlines do actually retain the right to refuse to take luggage that exceeds the weight limit.
It should be readily understandable how this could actually be a significant safety hazard on small aircraft. At the same time, the smaller the airport that you leave from (and it doesn’t get any smaller than a remote bush strip), the less likely it is that there will be a handsome set of scales facing you.
The list of items that you should put on your potential ‘To Take’ list can be classified as follows:
It is important to carry a pair of binoculars.
Sunglasses: Since the African sun can be quite intense, it is important to carry sun glasses.
Torch: You will certainly need at least a small torch for getting around in your tent, or in camp, at night. The hosts at the lodges and campsites always possess huge torches capable of spotting animals at a huge distance at night. Therefore you don’t need to carry a huge torch. Don’t forget to take spare batteries if you are going to stay longer on safari.
Notebook and Pen: It is important to keep a regular diary of everything seen and done, with all game sightings recorded. In particular this helps in correlating with the pictures that you take. It also helps you to relive what will be one of the experiences of a lifetime.
Water Bottle: This sgould be one of the items of camping gear that you should carry. Although on safari you will generally be supplied with bottled water, you can pour it into your water bottle that is easier to carry.
Alarm Clock: Most activities are regulated on time. You might think that this is an essential,
given the fact that your day will usually begin at around 6.00 a.m. There are a few safari lodges will lay on an alarm call in your camp, most often you will rely always be awoken
by a soft, but insistent “Knock, Knock” by a lodge staff.
Books and Maps: Though to most travelers, these will add to the weight, it is important to either carry your map or a guide book. For keen birders, this is not new, since they will always carry a specialist birding book to amplify the information given in this guide.
Sun Screen is a must carry when you are going on an African safari. Possibly you can also carry some Aftersun. It is important to carry sun screen that is not yet over a year old.
Most lodges will provide you toothbrush and toothpaste, shower Gel and Shampoo (in small
amounts – these are often provided).
Some tour operators have first aid kit in the safari vehicles. However it is important to also carry your own medical items that you may need during the trip. These will include such as Travel sickness pills, Anti-Malaria Medication if you are traveling to the tropics, Insect Repellent, (containing a minimum of 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) e.g. Mosquito Milk). Do not carry mosquito nets and room sprays since these are provided where needed by your host. You may also need Bite Relief Cream, Antihistamine Tablets and Eye Drops particularly if you wear contact lenses (driving through the bush or savanna parks raises fine clouds of dust).
Carry some wet wipes (useful when you need to clean your hands).
It’s also a good idea to take some Imodium, in case of diarrhoea. At times, tourists get diarhoea after eating food that they are not used to. If you are adventurous, carry some just for the sake if you get a disturbing stomach.
Since credit cards are not accepted everywhere, it is important to carry some little cash that you may need to give tips or buy some souvenirs. Generally US Dollars can be universally used, without your need to obtain local currency. You might also like to take a money belt, and think about splitting up your cash between two or more different locations.
Electrical Adaptor: Most places in Africa will take the standard UK 240 volt square cross-section three pin plugs (for charging batteries etc), or will supply suitable adaptors if not. However many camps may only provide charging facilities in one small central location, or via just one socket in your hut. You can carry a multi-plug adaptor so that you can charge several items at once. Also be in the know that some ecolodges do not run electricity at all times. Therefore, you will need to know the times when electricity is ON.
Above all – take a sense of humour: things don’t always go exactly in Africa as in the developed world. There are limitations on the amount you can withdraw from the ATM. Many travelers who expect less end up being satisfied with the safari experience at the end of the trip!