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What to pack for an African safari in Kenya and Tanzania

If you’ve found yourself reading this blog post, you’re probably in the exact situation I was before my trip to Kenya and Tanzania, where I was wondering what to pack for an African Safari. Typically I’m “light-packer” and like to travel with my carry-on-sized suitcase. For this trip, thought, I wanted to be over-prepared due to the unpredictable weather there in September, limited accessibility to certain toiletries and medicines, as well as the remoteness of some destinations on the itinerary. So I’m going to detail what I packed into my little suitcase for 12 days – and what I learned.

Clothing to pack for an African Safari

Layers are going to be your friend on a safari trip – the weather on my safari (in September) was inconsistent but dressing in layers meant it was easier enough to take a layer off or put an extra one on. When choosing or purchasing clothes, opt for neutral colours such as beige, tan, brown and khaki. It is best to avoid black, blue and anything with a camouflage print.

You can also check out my in-depth guide about what to wear on Safari in Kenya and Tanzania.

Fleece jumper/s
Especially in the cooler months, this will get worn daily – I wore mine every night. I highly recommend a fleece in a darker colour like khaki (and not white, like I regrettably bought). I’d also recommend a zip-up option versus a pull-over because it lets you control the temperature around your chest and stomach a little more than a pull-over.

• Lightweight fabric pants
I packed 1x beige and 2x green linen-blend pants – probably could have done with just two pairs.

Lightweight fabric shorts
I took a beige linen pair but I’d suggest going with a khaki colour instead (my pair got dusty and visibly dirty quickly). Or I’d take a second pair if I was going for longer or during the warmer seasons.

T-shirt/ singlet tops
I’d say I overpacked with a mixture of 3 t-shirts and 7 singlets as I hand washed during the trip and didn’t end up wearing everything I brought with me. If you’re heading on safari in the cooler weather, you could opt for a few long sleeve tops. However, during the day in the cooler weather, layers are still going to be preferable.

Lightweight long sleeved linen shirts
I took one and wished I’d packed a second. These are great for layering – as well as offer protection from the sun and insects.

Bikini/ swimming costume
Sometimes accomodation might have a pool so it’s good to have the option for a swim

Sleepwear
I brought just one set of sleepwear with me that I could wear outside of my tent/ room – leggings and a t-shirt. Because I was travelling during the cooler months, I do think a comfy jumper to wear around the camp/ lodges would’ve been nice as I ended up wearing my fleece every night.

Underwear
For underwear, I read that most laundry services won’t wash underwear. Because I was going for a shorter trip, I took enough for the days I was there but if you’re heading away for longer be prepared to wash these yourself.

Day socks
Opt for thinner, breathable socks. I took a small variety of ankle and crew socks.

Night socks
Pack thicker, warmer socks for night time (especially in the cooler months)

Shoes to pack for an African Safari

Closed-in shoes
These don’t have to be boots – sneakers will do just fine but take socks that go past ankle to protect you from insects.

Sandals
If you’re wondering if you can bring sandals, you can! I’d suggest bring them along in addition to some closed-in shoes but sandals are perfectly suitable for vehicle-based safaris.

Showers shoes
These can just be your thongs/ flip flops. Some of the showers were in shared bathrooms so shower shoes will help to protect you from anything nasty organisms thriving on the shower floor.

Accessories to pack for an African Safari

Lightweight scarf
Really versatile item because it cover your shoulders, protect from sun, acts as a light blanket, can be used as a sarong, etc

Sun hat
Wide-brimmed are best to ensure your face and neck are adequately protected.

Sunglasses

Small backpack
This acted as my day pack and fit my camera equipment inside.

Canvas bag or similar
I found it really helpful to have an extra bag on hand for shopping (as plastic bags are banned in both Kenya and Tanzania) and taking clothes or other items to the showers when camping.

Neck wallet or waist wallet
Depending on your preference, on of these wallets are great for keeping your valuables safe and close to you.

Packing cubes
All my clothes get rolled and placed into these fabric cubes, which makes living out of a small suitcase much more manageable.

Electronics to pack for an African Safari

Phone

Phone charger

Power point plug converters 

Head phones

Lens wipes

Camera

Camera charger

Camera lens/es

Camera batteries

SD Card/s

Go Pro/ Insta360

Go Pro/ Insta360 charger

Portable charger

Portable charger’s charger

Toiletries to pack for an African Safari

Toothbrush

Toothpaste

Floss

Mouthwash

Hairbrush

Hair clip/ ties

Shampoo

Conditioner

Dry shampoo

Soap

Deodorant

Sunscreen

Pads/ tampons

Wet wipes

• Toilet paper roll

Hand sanitiser

Shaving razor

Bug spray/ cream

Cotton buds

Make-up remover pads

Nail file

• Face cloth

Microfibre towel

Clothes detergent sheets

• Face masks

First aid to pack for an African Safari

Personal medications

Paracetamol

Anti-inflammatory

Malaria tablets

Water purifying tablets

Travel sickness tablets

Antidiarrheal tablets 

Cold/ flu tablets

Antibiotics

Probiotics

Hydralite

Ural

Antiseptic cream

Antihistamine

Bandaids

Safety pins

Scissors

Tweezers

Face masks

Miscellaneous to pack for an African Safari

• Binoculars

Travel pillow

Sleeping sheet

Pen/s

Luggage/ locker locks

Water bottle

Poncho

Headlamp

• Earplugs

Laundry bag

Snacks

Journal/ book

• Playing cards

Money to pack for an African Safari

Physical Visa card – primary

Physical Visa or other card (back-up)

Physical Visa or other card (second back-up)

• USD currency

RFID blocking sleeves for chipped cards

For more information on how to organise cash and payments, check out my money tips you NEED to know for Kenya and Tanzania.

Documents to pack for an African Safari

Passport

RFID blocking sleeve or cover for chipped passports

Driver’s Licence

Yellow Fever Certificate

Kenya Visa (printed in colour)

Tanzania Visa (printed in colour)

• Printed copy of your flight details

Letter from your doctor for prescribed medications

Printed copy of travel insurance

Hard copy of emergency and important contacts

Document folder with copies of all important documents

Photocopies of documents:

Photocopy of Passport

Photocopy of Driver’s Licence

Photocopy of Yellow Fever Certificate

Other things I didn’t bring that you might like to consider bringing

• Gimbal
The roads are pretty bumpy so video footage can often end up being a little shaky. A gimbal would be a great addition for anyone who wants to get clearer, steady footage.

• Sleeping bag
If your camping and your tour doesn’t provide them, you’ll likely need to pack one.

• Sleeping sheet
If your camping and your tour provides sleeping bags, which they use for other tours, it might feel nicer to sleep with a sleeping sheet inside the sleeping bag.

What to leave at home

• Drone
There are strict regulations and approvals required for the use of drones in Tanzania and Kenya. I would highly recommend researching drone laws in each country before travelling.

• Perfume
You’re likely going to be covered in bug spray and sunscreen most of the time, and some insects can be attracted to perfumes so this is something you can leave at home.

• Jewellery and other valuables you don’t need
It’s always good safety practice to never flaunt valuables and keep jewellery to a minimum. If it’s not crucial, leave it safely at home.

• Single-use plastic bags
Both Kenya and Tanzania have banned single-use plastic bags.

Hairdryer
Hairdryers are often discouraged at many campsites and lodges due to limited access to electricity and the voltage required to power them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the weather going to be like during my trip?

Kenya:

  • January to March: Temperatures range from 20-30°C (68-86°F), and on some occasions up to 40°C (104°F). It’s generally dry with minimal rainfall. You’ll want to be opting for light-weight, breathable clothing.
  • April to June: Temperatures range from 18-28°C (64-82°F). During these months, there is often increased rainfall so be prepared with weatherproof outerwear and layers for the range in temperature.
  • July to October: Temperatures range from 15-25°C (59-77°F). You’ll usually experience colder nights and mornings – so you’ll likely want to rug up for early game drives. Cool and dry, minimal rainfall. This time of the year is ideal for safaris – and the Great Migration occurs during these months.
  • November to December: Temperatures range from 20-30°C (68-86°F). You’ll likely experience short rains with moderate rainfall. Layers and weatherproof outerwear are ideal for this time of the year.

Tanzania:

  • January to March: Temperatures range from 20-30°C (68-86°F), and on some occasions up to 40°C (104°F). Warm and dry temperate so light-weight clothes are going to be the way to go!
  • April to May: Temperatures range from 18-28°C (64-82°F). Often experiencing long rains with increased rainfall – so definitely opt for layers and rainy outerwear (poncho, rain jackets and closed-in shoes)
  • June to October: Temperatures range from 15-25°C (59-77°F). Similarly to Kenya, the temperatures will drop to their lowest at nights and morning and then generally warming up during the day so layers are ideal. These months are cool and dry, ideal for safaris.
  • November to December: Temperatures range from 20-30°C (68-86°F). Short rains with moderate rainfall, which means a poncho would definitely come in handy.

I would recommend checking weather forecasts closer to your travel dates for more accurate information, as weather patterns can change.

What colours should be avoided when packing clothes?

Do not take any camouflage clothing with you. It is illegal in many African countries to wear this print.

You should avoid blue and black coloured clothing in areas when tsetse flies are prevalent as these colours attract them. Tsetse flies are a carrier of “sleeping sickness” so it is best practice to avoid any clothing that could attract them.

I would avoid white clothes for the fact that safari trips can get a little dusty and dirty. I took a lot of lighter clothes with me and they got absolutely filthy!

Can you wear jeans on an African safari?

You can wear almost anything you like – however, jeans could be quite uncomfortable in the warmer weather. Also, if you’re packing lighter and need to be able to wash clothes, jeans are hard to dry. If you really want to bring jeans, blue jeans should be avoided for areas where Tsetse flies are prevalent.

What have I missed?

Do you have any questions about what to pack for your trip to Kenya or Tanzania? Leave them in the comments or send me a message through the contact page.

If you’ve been on a safari trip to one of these countries before, is there anything you would recommend taking something that’s not on this list?

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