Safari Tips

‘Mchama ago hanyeli, huenda akauya papo.’ (A traveler does not make a mess where he had made a camp as he might one day come back!)

Safari Etiquette: how to get the best out of your safari and National Park regulations.

The first thing is to understand that people who travel for extended periods of time together will have differences. No matter how much we try, there will be certain issues which you might not agree with. Ego’s will clash. Things have a nasty habit of going wrong on a safari and if that happens the camp owners and the ground operators will do everything to ensure that you are made as comfortable as possible. The first thing is for you to decide that such things happen and maintain the dignity of the safari. Please do ensure that there is no screaming, shouting, sulking or rude behaviour.

Just because we are paying them money does not mean we own the people. Please respect everyone.

The golden rule for traveling in Africa is please do not be ostentatious. Do not wear jewelry or carry expensive pens and cell phones whilst out shopping on the streets of towns and cities in Africa. I wear a much used t-shirt and an old pair of pant whenever I go out. Till date nobody has ever harassed me.

Whilst out in the bush please do ensure that you don’t speak loudly or use your cell phones. Never play music in your tent or on safari. It is considered very bad form.

Never use your cell phone in the dining area or in any common area.

Guides lose interest in clients whose children play with electronic games on safari.

Please do not carry all you food in plastic packets. The smell of food attracts baboons and rats. Rats attract snakes. If you do have anything then the best possible thing to do is give it to the camp manager.

Please do not throw the plastic anywhere. Keep it in a bag and give it to the guide.

Please do not spit paan or paan paraag all over the camp. Use spittoons. Best is to do what my family does, carry your own spittoon.

Please do not smoke.

If you drink more than you can handle then please do retire to your room with grace.

Wear brown/green or dull coloured clothes.

Do not scream or shout at animals.

Do not ever get down from your safari vehicle.

Do not wander outside your camp and always follow the advise of your camp management or your guide.

Sometimes your fellow guests do not get binoculars on safari. It is a good idea to share yours.

If you have a birder or a photographer in your car, then please do be patient with them.

Please do not be rude to anyone.


Recommended Reading List

  • “Elephant Memories”                                     Cynthia Moss
  • “West with the Night”                                    Beryl Markham
  • “Green Hills of Africa”                                   Ernst Hemingway
  • “Out of Africa”                                                  Isaac Denison aka Karen Blixen
  • “The Flame Trees of Thika”                          Elspeth Huxley
  • “Field Guide to African Wildlife”                National Audubon Society is a must have.


Things to take with you and things to be aware of:


Space is always at a premium on your international flight, light aircraft transfers and safari vehicle so with that in mind, the safari packing list below will help you pack only the necessary and correct items.

It may look long at first glance but depending on your personal circumstances and the type of trip you are going on some of the items won’t be applicable to you and you can safely ignore them.

The safari packing list is based on the advice and recommendations from all the trip reports over the years at African Safari Journals and my own experience in packing for the hundreds of safaris that I have been on.



  •                  There are specific clothing mistakes that many people often make when they go on safari. Carry
  •                   light cottons for summer and a light jacket in the evening. Jeans are heavy and one pair is
  •                   normally enough. Light cotton trousers are lighter and take less space.
  •                  Safari hats must cover your head and shade your face and neck.
  •                  Clothing in neutral colours: khaki, light brown/green, tan. Avoid bright colours & white for
  •                  improved game viewing.
  •                  A safari jacket is a very handy accessory to take with on your trip.
  •                  Comfortable non-synthetic short- and long sleeved safari shirts (2 or 3 of each)
  •                  Comfortable non-synthetic shorts and long trousers (2 or 3 of each)
  •                  About 5 sets of underwear
  •                  Pyjamas
  •                  Swimming costume only if there is a pool in the camps you are visiting.
  •                  Flip-flops – the deep green Bata sandals for Rs. 299 are the best.
  •                  Comfortable safari hiking/walking shoes (not white). These are very important on a walking
  •                   safari.
  •                  About 5 pairs of socks
  •                  Extra shoelaces



Some of these supplies might be available in the first aid kit that every safari company should carry but make sure before leaving them off your safari packing list.

  • Insect repellent/ Mosquito Coil  (do not use coils in a tent)
  • Mosquito netting – Your safari company might supply these so find out from them first. This is only needed in case you are going to camp which has a problem with mosquitoes.
  • Sunblock and after sun lotion
  • A travel towel is light and takes very little space. This is generally not needed and I carry a light cotton lungi always. This help me tide more or less most emergency needs of a towel/sheet blanket, sunshade, even head protection during an emergency etc.
  • Skin cream
  • Malaria tablets – I don’t take them as they seem to dilute the symptoms of the disease. But you should go with what your doctor says.
  • Citronella or other body soap/shower gel. Normally your camp will provide this but it is always best to keep a small bottle for emergencies.
  • Sunglasses. Make sure they have polarised lenses.
  • Biological Water Filtration Bottle or you can stick to the bottled water. Not required as most places in Africa are on bottled water in any case.
  • Wet wipes/hand sanitizer or no-water/antibacterial soap – very handy in the safari vehicle. I don’t carry them nor do I use them.
  • Pocket Knife (Swiss/Leatherman type)
  • Small scissors, if not on your Leatherman/Swiss knife
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/dental floss
  • 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner. A small bottle will do.
  • Tweezers
  • Lip balm
  • Q-tips & cotton balls
  • Razor & shaving cream/gel
  • Birth control – enough to last your trip – you never know who you might meet :)
  • Sanitary requirements (shops are sometimes few and far between, and very basic)
  • Contact lens solution & extra set of disposable lenses
  • Band aids & moleskin
  • Vitamins
  • Painkiller
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Motion sickness tablets
  • Heartburn remedy
  • Anti-diarrhoea medicine
  • Re-hydration salts
  • Pen/pencil
  • Small unbreakable mirror
  • Plastic bags (wet washing/muddy shoes/organise clothes in suitcase)
  • Small compass
  • Deck of cards/travel size game
  • Book to read between game viewing and other leisure time
  • String/rope (washing line, tying sleeping bag, multitude of uses!!)
  • Cold/flu tablets
  • Allergy remedy – carry Allegra 250
  • Some people take a basic antibiotic in case
  • Sterile needles (in case you need an injection and don’t trust the hygiene conditions) – I have never needed them but you never know.
  • Prescribed medicine (enough to last your trip)
  • Chewing gum. Somethimes when you are on safari, you need gum.



  • The thing to remember when choosing safari luggage is mobility. You will probably be moving
between several different modes of transport (airplanes, cars, light aircraft, trucks, boats) so plan accordingly.
  • Suitcases with wheels don’t work very well in the African bush but they are adequate if you
don’t mind carrying them. (Our company will have someone on hand to carry your luggage for
you in most places).
  • A daypack is very handy to transport the items you need while driving around in the safari
vehicle or walking through the bush



  • A good digital SLR camera with at least a 70-200 zoom. Longer lens are also very handy. But Africa is more about landscapes than portraits and fast 18-70 lenses are also very useful. The camera should have a good buffering else you lose precious seconds. The camera case should be waterproof. Carry two camera bodies if you can afford it.
  • Safari Binoculars. Essential for a successful trip. No safari-packing list is complete without them
  • A small Flashlight or headlamp
  • Camera, extra memory, extra batteries and
lens cleaner.
  • Read the free “Better Safari Photography” ebook for information on the best safari cameras and
lenses to take with.
  • Small beanbag to substitute a tripod
  • Sleeping Bag if on a camping safari (may be supplied by safari company so check first)
  • Travel pillow, or you can use your polar fleece/windbreaker
  • Small calculator (or if you’re taking youre mobile phone) for currency calculations. Not required. Use your cell phone.
  • Money belt
  • Washing powder/travel soap for laundry. Not required.
  • Lighter/waterproof matches
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Mini combination locks (keys get lost)
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Adaptors. Plug adaptors – generally in Africa it’s 3-prong round or square

Note: Please check for voltage and plug types that you would need. Most supermarkets sell adaptors. Farmers generate their own electricity with a diesel generator, which is usually run only during the day. At night they use candle light or light from a 12 Volt battery. Plug type M is used in most places and most Hotels/camps use the old fashioned British 15 amp plug which has three large round pins although we found many places supplied one – depends on exactly where your staying some of the more modern hotels also have a continental 2 pin socket in the.



  • Passport & correct visas
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Africa travel insurance policy
  • The African Safari Journals travel dairy book – to write your journal and record the wildlife you see. Also includes a hard copy safari packing list
  • Guide book(s) covering the area you’re visiting – it should include animals/birds pages for easy identification
  • Your itinerary
  • Addresses and mobile numbers (postcards/e-mails/texts)
  • Any vaccinations certificates
  • International Youth Hostel card (depending on your type of trip and accommodation)
  • Phone card and international access numbers
  • Extra passport photos
  • Copy of your passport, kept in a separate place than your passport
  • Copy of marriage certificate, if applicable especially if you recently tied the knot
  • Medical history
  • Copies of prescriptions
  • Small stickers to label your used films

Follow this safari packing list and you will never have to worry about the frustration of leaving something behind or taking something that you won’t need on your African safari.

We recommend you print the safari packing list and tick the items off as you go along to make sure you don’t miss anything.

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