packing lists
The safari experts
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packing lists

packing lists

In the article below we start by recommending that you pack light and then go on to present endless
packing lists
of all the things you need to take along.

In reality we find it quite possible to undertake even quite long trips to Africa with less than 20kg or 44lbs baggage, including some pretty substantial camera equipment.

Please do read the opening sections as they contain some critical information on the types of bags to take and how you should pack in case your hold luggage should go missing ...

Luggage limitations ...

Most people take far too much gear with them when they travel.

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of your flight, then bear in mind that the amount of greenhouse gases created is directly proportional to how much weight you are carrying. Every kilo you can shave off will significantly reduce this pollution.

If your trip contains any light aircraft flights, then you may be subject to some very strict baggage restrictions, as detailed on your trip paperwork. Often these weight restrictions cannot be avoided ... there simply is not the capacity in the small hold or the plane simply cannot get off the ground carrying more weight.

Please note that many airlines in Africa now also factor a maximum bodyweight into their luggage allowance. Even if this is not the case for your trip, if you weigh more than 100kg (220lbs) should let us know in advance so we can advise airlines.

If you know in advance that you will not be able to travel within the specified luggage limits, then you may need to book extra seats on flights, usually at the full per person rate.

If you turn up for one of these flights with too much baggage then often you will have to leave it behind and pay for it to follow you on a later flight.

Left luggage ...

It may be possible to leave luggage at a certain hotel or airport storage facility in order to avoid carrying all your luggage around all of your trip. This can be particularly useful if you need to bring equipment that you need for only part of your trip, such as trekking or diving gear. Please ask our sales team for more information.

Bags and suitcases ...

If your trip contains any light aircraft flights, then you will usually be required that you to have only soft bags. Hard suitcases need to be avoided, especially large ones which may not even fit through luggage compartment doors.

Important notes about lost luggage ...

For some reason bags regularly get lost on flights to Africa. It is extremely important that you take this into account when packing for your trip.

The best solution is to carry hand luggage only. Most long-haul carriers now have very generous hand luggage allowances. When we travel on reconnaissance we almost always travel hand luggage only, with over half of our allowance being taken up by camera equipment. We are usually able to get away with one small soft-sided suitcase with wheels and one small backpack.

If you do need to put bags in the hold, then make sure that you pack essential items in your hand luggage. The two most important items that this applies to are essential medical supplies and walking boots if you are embarking on a trek. Beyond that you need to imagine what would happen if your hold luggage went astray and pack accordingly. Lost luggage usually catches you up in a few days, possibly a week, but of course it can go missing for good. In most areas you should be able to purchase replacement items, but this can significantly disrupt your schedule.

This advice is particularly important for guests trekking Kilimanjaro or heading out on a long overland safaris. We and our safari operators spend endless hours chasing bags around the region.

Any hold luggage should be locked and should have your name, address, contact numbers, destination, flight number and dates clearly indicated both on the outside and inside.

We also recommend that when travelling through smaller airports in Africa you keep a close check on your hold bags to make sure that they are correctly labelled and move on the right trolleys to the right aircraft.

Medical supplies ...

Please refer to medical kits.

Passport and visa...

Please also refer to passports and visas.

... passport
... visas
... certification of vaccinations, notably yellow fever
... photocopy of passport
... spare passport photos for visas

Money ...

Advice on how best to make payments in Africa is contained within our section on money.

... cash
... credit and debit cards
... travellers cheques
... passwords and security numbers

Proof of insurance ...

It is absolutely essential that you carry with you proof of insurance, including emergency contact numbers. Refer to the section on travel insurance for more information.

... certificate of insurance

Electrical equipment ...

... telephone
... charger
... passwords for email accounts
... outlet socket converters

Refer to the electricity section for more information.

Photographic equipment ...

For tips on how to take good photos in Africa, please refer to our section on photography.

... stills camera
... video camera
... loose lenses
... memory cards
... batteries
... charger
... cleaning materials
... instruction manual
... carrying case

Refer to the electricity section for more information, notably about how much battery capacity to bring along.

Vision ...

... binoculars
... sunglasses
... reading glasses
... contact lenses and associated items
... torch/flashlight
... spare batteries
... spare bulbs
... matches
... candles

Reading and writing ...

Look out for the "good books" on the various country pages of our website for some reading recommendations.

... country guidebooks
... flora and fauna identification books
... reading books
... writing implements
... pad of paper
... games and cards

Clothing ...

Refer to the section on clothing for more detailed notes.

If you are trekking Kilimanjaro then please refer to our specific kit list sections on the pages for each route.

... sun hat
... bandana
... walking boots

Toiletries ...

If you are staying in medium and higher end lodges then you really should not need to take a towel with you. Soap and shampoo is also usually provided. For us the most important item on this list is probably earplugs, since there are loads of locations in Africa where nights are sometimes not so quiet as you might be used to back home.

... soap
... shampoo
... towel
... toothbrush
... toothpaste
... deodorant
... cosmetics
... wet wipes
... soft toilet paper
... earplugs
... lip salve

Pack for a Purpose ...

If you are thinking of taking something with you to donate to local communities, this organisation is a good place to start and is supported by a number of our key lodges ...
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