Safaris are extremely informal vacations and the main goal is to pack lightly and smartly. Most lodges and camps will launder your clothes for free or a small fee ($2 - $3 per item) within 24-hours. Loose fitting, casual and comfortable clothing is recommended, as you will be spending the majority of your safari wildlife viewing in a vehicle. Be prepared for daily highs ranging from the mid 70's to the mid 80's and lows in the 50's and 60's except during the cold season (June, July and August) when the lows can drop down into the 40's. The rim of the Ngorongoro Crater can get significantly colder during the night and early mornings due to the high elevation (7,500 – 8,000 feet).
There is little or no opportunity for fashion while on safari though you may wish to bring a nice outfit for a special dinner. All the lodges allow casual clothing and traditional safari wear while dining. There is a large temperature range each day and it is recommended to wear layers enabling you to adjust to the varying temperatures. It can be quite cold on early morning game drives and long pants and a warm sweater are needed. In contrast, shorts and t-shirts can be worn on afternoon game drives as it can get hot during midday especially with the strong equatorial sun shining down in a convertible vehicle. It is important that you wear a wide brimmed hat and apply sun block frequently to all exposed areas.
Dark colors do tend to attract unwanted attention from certain insects. The tsetse fly (active only during the day) is attracted to dark colors (primarily dark blue) so these should be avoided when game driving. Tsetse areas including the woodlands of the West Serengeti, Tarangire and a few parts of the North Serengeti. The plains of the south and east Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and the southern areas of the Central Serengeti are tsetse fly free. It is recommended to wear long pants and shirts when game driving an area known for concentrations of tsetse flies. Lighter and more natural colors such as khaki, brown, beige, olive and green should be worn during the day. During the nights, the color of your clothing is irrelevant. From dusk to dawn, it is recommended that you protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing pants, long sleeved shirts, socks and shoes plus insect repellant.
Please see below for a recommended African safari packing list:
- One pair of comfortable walking shoes (i.e. sneakers, cross training or light hiking shoes)
- One pair of sandals or flip-flops
- Casual, comfortable and loose fitting clothing in khaki, brown, beige, green and olive colors made of natural fabrics such as cotton
- T-shirts and light tops
- Long-sleeved shirts/blouses
- Light long pants or convertible long-short pants
- One warm fleece or sweater
- One Swimsuit
- Cotton socks and underwear
- Hat and bandana
- Heavy sweater, warm gloves, knit hat and scarf for the cold season (June – August)
- Optional: lightweight jacket or windbreaker
- Passport, plane tickets, safari itinerary and emergency contact document
- U.S. dollars in large and small denominations and credit cards
- Small flashlight
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Insect repellant
- Contact lens solution, spare glasses and extra contact lenses, if applicable
- Waterless anti-bacterial gel, hand wipes and Kleenex
- Camera, plenty of film, extra batteries and charger, if applicable
- UK plug adapter and transformer/voltage converter, if applicable
- Small battery operated alarm clock or watch
- Playing cards, small games and reading material (see safari reading list)
- Journal or notebook for recording daily observations and pens
- Snacks – nutrition bars, nuts, candy, etc.
- Zip lock bags for toiletries, camera equipment, snacks, etc. and small trash bags
- Personal toiletries (all rooms at each lodge/camp have soap though some may not have shampoo)
- Small medical kit including aspirin, antimalarial pills, cold and allergy medicine, cream for itches and rashes (i.e. Benadryl itch relief stick), band-aids, stomachache medicine (i.e. Pepto-Bismol), antibiotic ointment (i.e. Neosporin), multi-vitamins, diarrhea medicine (i.e. Imodium), prescription antibiotic effective against a broad range of bacteria including travelers diarrhea (i.e. Ciprofloxacin commonly known as Cipro) and any prescription medications.
- Small battery operated hand-held fan (there are some that come with water reservoirs)
Most internal Tanzania flights have a baggage restriction of 33 pounds per person. Excess luggage is charged at $2 per pound if it can be accommodated on the flight. Flights in Uganda have even stricter weight requirements. Please refer to your separate Uganda guidelines, if applicable.
We recommend packing light as no formal clothes are needed and laundry services are available at most lodges and camps either free of charge or for a small fee ($2 - $3 per item).
IMPORTANT: Please note that delayed or lost checked luggage is common on international air carriers (i.e. KLM and British Airways) arriving into Kilimanjaro, Nairobi or Dar es Salaam. Accordingly, it is recommended that you carry-on all luggage including one carry-on 22-inch suitcase (normal carry-on size which fits in typical overhead bins) and one separate camera bag and/or shoulder bag per person. If you do choose to check your luggage, it is essential that you carry-on ALL important items, including but not limited to: prescription medicines, camera equipment, essential toiletries, and at least two separate changes of clothes. You are allowed to carry-on 3 oz containers of any toiletries you may need such as sunscreen or contact lens solution in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Remember, you are flying to a remote location where it may be impossible to purchase such items in the event your luggage is lost or delayed. As you pack, ask yourself “would my trip be ruined if I did not have this item?” If the answer is yes, pack it in your carry-on bag!!!
Please read below an excerpt from KLM Airlines regarding carry-on luggage:
‘When luggage is carried on-board the aircraft, it must be of a size and shape to allow for storage in aircraft overhead compartments, or underneath the seat in front of the passenger. Each person is allowed to carry on-board the aircraft one piece of luggage. This piece of luggage must not exceed 45 linear inches (9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches) and also must not exceed 26 pounds. In addition to this one piece of carry-on luggage, customers may also carry on-board a purse or briefcase or laptop computer. In addition, each passenger may carry a coat, umbrella, or other "special" items.’
Recently KLM Airlines has become more aggressive in enforcing weight and size limits with regards to carry-on luggage. Their carry-on rule of 2 carry-on pieces totaling a maximum 26 pounds has rarely been enforced in the past. However, we have recently had a few guests forced to check in their luggage at the gate/jet way. These clients were pulled out of line and told their carry-on luggage was too big and heavy. We believe that KLM may be tightening their rules and enforcement especially if your luggage appears to 'overstuffed', has items hanging out or appears to be 'unusual' or 'untidy'. We continue to recommend that all guests pack as lightly as possible and do not over stuff carry-on luggage. Walk quietly to the gate and smile. This will go a long way!
As an extra precaution, we recommend that you include a plastic bag or similar in one piece of your carry-on luggage just in case you are forced to check in that piece of luggage. You would then be able to quickly pull out some critical items (prescription medicine, change of clothes, etc.) and put those items in the bag to carry on board the aircraft with you. Checked luggage is frequently delayed (we estimate roughly 20% of the time) for the Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro flight. If your luggage is delayed, the airlines can usually deliver it to us within 24 - 48 hours. There are daily flights into the Serengeti, so once we have your luggage in hand, getting it to you while you are on safari is not a problem.
We have had clients in the past who were concerned about losing checked luggage express interest in mailing items to Arusha ahead of time. Although it is 'possible' to try and mail some items to Arusha ahead of time, we would not generally recommend it. It would likely be rather expensive and the mail service in Africa is extremely unreliable (much more so than the airlines!)
Please keep all critical items and valuables in your carry-on shoulder bag or on you including passport, tickets, wallet, medications, toiletries, camera, glasses, etc. Never pack any camera equipment or film in your check in luggage. If you do decide to check in your luggage, please protect yourself from the consequences of the airline loosing your luggage by packing critical items as described above and also two changes of clothes in a carry-on bag.
Please note that you may leave extra suitcases at our office in Arusha upon arrival and we can redeliver to your after your safari. This is particularly useful for those individuals combining their safari with vacations in Europe or other destinations where the clothing requirements and climates are different (especially in the winter). We can securely store all non-safari related items at our office. Some guests prefer packing two different suitcases with one to take on the safari and a second one for Europe or other destinations.
Note: This is applicable for Zanzibar only. If you are traveling to Zanzibar, please ensure that you dress modestly when not at the beach or at the beach resorts. When away from the beach and beach resorts, women should not wear sleeveless tops and short skirts (pants or at least knee-length shorts are fine). Men should wear shirts, pants or knee-length shorts. During Ramadan, take particular care with dress and show respect by not eating or drinking in the street or other public places. Ramadan dates are different every year. 2013 dates are July 9, 2013 to August 7, 2013.
Many people will bring a lightweight rolling duffle bag, since it has reasonable capacity but the bag itself doesn't weigh much, so you can allocate your weight allowance to the actual contents of your bag rather than the bag itself; you may recall each person is allowed 33lbs of luggage on the small plane flight to the Serengeti. Either that, or just a lightweight bag will do.
Some manufacturers to consider: Skyway; Tutto; Travelpro; Samsonite; Atlantic, Briggs & Riley; Eagle Creek; Swiss Army; Jourdan; JanSport; American Tourister; High Sierra; Traveler's Choice; Tumi; Atlantic; Andiamo. A simple approach is to go to Google.com (or your favorite search engine) and type in the search window what you are looking for, i.e. "lightweight luggage" for selection from many sources. To help aid you at the airport to identify your checked luggage, remember that colorful tags or baggage straps are still the best way to spot your bag!