Having just returned from the trip of a lifetime in Kenya, I wanted to share some of my packing advice for this kind of trip. This was my first ever safari and what to pack was something I really struggled with, so some of these tips I found before we traveled, and some of them I learnt along the way!
Pack Light… But not too light!
All the info I found before our holiday kept stressing to pack light, which is exactly what I did. In hindsight I definitely feel like I packed a little TOO light. I’ve listed my must have clothing items below, but bare in mind Africa is seasonal and therefore you should pack according to the time of year you are visiting!
Lightweight, comfortable trousers – My favourites were a pair of beige cotton chinos from H&M they were comfortable and perfect for the July temperatures in Kenya. I had packed two pairs of shorts, but I ended up only wearing one pair of these – with July being winter in Kenya it was surprisingly chilly and I definitely favoured my trousers!
Layering Items! – I cannot express the importance of layering enough! When you are out on long game drives that start in the morning, but continue later into the day you will want to shed some layers. The mornings are very chilly so I would wear either a vest top or t-shirt, cotton button up shirt and a fleece, as the temperature warmed up I would remove some layers! Most accommodation will offer a laundry service, which has a same day turn around so you do not need to pack many of these items.
Lightweight waterproof jacket – This is something that I packed, but left in the lodge because I thought I wouldn’t need it… Not my brightest idea as one morning whilst out on an all-day game drive it rained! Luckily only a short shower, nevertheless it would have been much nicer to have a rain jacket.
Hat and Sunglasses – I’m not a hat person at all, but my straw hat did come in handy for shading my head from the direct sun – nobody wants a burnt scalp!
Shoes – A lot of people will tell you boots are essential, however our tour operator informed us that this really isn’t the case as most of the time you are in the car anyway. So after spending a hefty amount on a pair of pro walking boots, I decided to return them and opt for a pair of £4 sale canvas trainers. I’m so glad I did, they weren’t too hot, were comfortable and due to me being short they were easy to slip on and off so that I could stand on the seats of the car to get a better view!
Around the lodges I lived in my slip-on sandals, however I would recommend also packing a pair of pumps/closed shoes as I found the sandals quite chilly for the evenings.
Evening Wear – I had read to pack a couple of nice summer dresses for the evenings, so I did. I regretted it. The evenings for me were very cold (I am used to Abu Dhabi temperatures!), so I ended up wearing a lovely dress with trainers, a hoodie and a big scarf – not a good look! Next time I will definitely be packing warmer evening attire, such as black jeans and jumpsuits.
Accessories – The African wilderness is NOT the place for expensive jewellery and accessories. I left my favourite watches at home in favour of my old fitbit so I could keep track of the time.
I’ll be honest, hair straighteners/curlers are normally an essential for me but I decided to leave these behind… Safari is the time to embrace your natural look!
Some essentials I found handy are…
Hand sanitiser – an absolute MUST.
Shampoo bar – I made the switch to plastic free shampoo, and it comes in super handy for travelling too!
Mini shower gel & conditioner – Our lodges provided these items, but I usually like to take and use my own anyway.
Insect Repellent – It’s the African wilderness, there are bugs… This is a necessity.
Moisturiser, hand cream & Lip Balm – The dust and the zooming around in an open top jeep definitely has an impact on your skin. You’ll need a good moisturiser (shea butter is great!), hand cream and lip balm!
Lush Sleepy Cream (or any lavender based lotion) – I had read that lavender repels insects so I took my lush sleepy cream with me and lathered it on at night. I actually came away with only one small insect bite throughout my whole trip, I’m not sure if I’m just lucky or if this helped!
Hair oil/leave in conditioner – to pack some moisture back into dry locks and help combat frizz.
Insulated Water Bottle – I took my Chilly’s water bottle which is designed to keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours. This was perfect for avoiding lukewarm water when out and about all day.
If you’re planning an African safari I hope some of these hints help!