11 Essential Things You Need to Pack for a Safari

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Planning your next safari? Amazing! Going on safari is a bucket-list experience, but it can be daunting figuring out what to pack and what to leave behind, especially as many smaller “bush” planes have weight restrictions on luggage. 

And then there’s the khaki. 

On my first safari I was convinced I didn’t need to spend money buying khaki and would tough it out with what I already owned, until I realized the khaki was more for protection from the sun and flies than for fashion, and came home covered in itchy bites. Don’t make the same mistakes

This packing list includes just about everything you need for a spectacular African safari. 

1. Binoculars

Sure, some safari outfitters might have an extra pair in the car, but do you really want to fight over them with five other guests in your truck when a cheetah comes out of hiding? Have your own pair at the ready, like these lightweight binoculars.

2. Sunscreen Repellent with DEET

You’re going to need sunscreen, and you’ll probably find you want some sort of insect repellent, so go for a product that combines the two like this one. The higher the SPF the better. The sun does not play around in Africa, so you’ll want to reapply as often as possible. 

3. Light-Colored Clothing

Your biggest foe on an African safari, particularly in areas of Tanzania, will be the tsetse flies, notorious for biting through your clothing and leaving you with itchy bumps that last at least a few weeks. There’s not a whole lot you can do to avoid the tsetse unfortunately, and in many national parks they are rampant. However, studies have shown they’re more attracted to dark clothing, so wearing light, loose clothing can help. Columbia has a great line of clothing perfect for wear on safari and these are our favorite pieces.

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4. Portable Zoom Lens

If you’re planning on coming on safari with just your smartphone camera, think again. Though on occasion you’ll be close enough to an animal snap a good photo, you’ll really want the zoom to see what’s happening. While a DSLR is recommended, this zoom lens for smartphones can also help you get the shot. 

5. Hat

A good hat is essential for sun protection and protection from flies and other insects. We like this unisex hat because it has a chin strap that will help keep it on in a dust storm, and it has SPF 50+ protection. It’s also foldable, washable, water-resistant, and breathable. 

6. Moisturizer

Your skin will 100 percent dry out if you don’t take care of it while in dry, dusty deserts. This daily moisturizer also packs a punch in that it has SPF in it as well. 

7. Head Lamp

You hear something rustling in the bushes outside of your camp in the middle of the night. How will you know what it is if you’re not prepared with a source of light? One of the most valuable things you can bring on your safari is a headlamp — not only for night spotting of creatures, but also for when you need to sneak out to use the restroom in the dark. 

8. Disposable Wipes

Safaris can get a little dirty — you’re exposed to the elements throughout most of the day, with lots of nature bathroom breaks in between. These disposable wipes help you to feel clean.

9. Rain Jacket

The weather is unpredictable in the desert, and you might find yourself caught in a dust or rainstorm, or in the cold after dark. Traveling with a light, foldable rain jacket is a great idea. We like this one because it’s designed to be packable while also providing protection from flies and rain alike. 

10. Portable Chargers

There’s nothing worse than seeing a giant elephant right in front of you and realizing your camera is out of juice. Don’t let that happen with this portable charger, which is capable of charging multiple devices at the same time. 

11. Gear Bag

For many people, going on safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So chances are, you’re here to take a lot of photos. Make sure your devices are secure in a bag that’s big enough to hold your DSLR, your lenses, and your personal products. We like this bag for exactly those reasons. 


If you’ve still got space in your pack, we also recommend bringing a pair of flip flops for the shower, extra batteries for your flashlight and devices, and SIM cards with plenty of space. If you’re doing a lot of rugged camping, a mosquito net is a must. If you’re a woman on safari, bring any feminine products you think you might need, as they will likely not be available at your camp.

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