Preparing for your trip
An expedition in Africa is unlike any other travel experience, and while our expert team looks after all of our guests needs, these packing tips will help you get the most out of your trip. We have asked our guests for their top tips in preparing for a safari. Select a subject below for their advice:
Check the allowable weight limit on the Air Botswana website before you pack your bags to ensure that your luggage is not overweight.
If you are travelling from the USA, it is recommended that you use TSA ( Transportation Security Agency) approved locks to facilitate security checks. It is recommended that you lock your luggage when you leave your tent to keep valuables safe.
Some guests prefer to pack their clothes in plastic bags inside their suitcases because it makes it easy to reach in and pull out something (like a shirt) without upsetting everything else in the suitcase because the plastic slides out. Plastic bags are also useful for shoes as they get dirty on safari.
Some guests like to get their bags wrapped in plastic at the airport before checking in your luggage. It protects the bags from anyone getting into them at the airport. It is not necessary but some guests use it as extra protection.
Using small travel-sized bottles for your toiletries lightens your load considerably. Some guests like to take a package of moistened makeup pads. They come in handy to wipe your face and hands during the day and before dinner. You can also find moistened wipes in individual packages.
To be comfortable, insect repellent is always good to have around. If there are mosquitoes around in the evening, it’s good to spray repellant on your clothes instead of your skin. If you are walking in grass where there may be ticks, spray insect repellent on your shoes and socks and tuck your pants into your socks.
Remember to pack any medication that you will need on the safari. All the lodges and mobile safari companies will have first aid kits for any minor scrapes if necessary.
Depending on the area and time of year, temperatures can vary. A good suggestion is to dress in layers so you can peel off clothes, as the day gets warmer and put them back on as it cools off at the end of the day.
One guest suggestions include:
- two long sleeve lightweight shirts to wear over tee shirts to keep the sun off your skin
- a few tee shirts with and without sleeves; shorts and two pairs of long pants (one pair of jeans and one lightweight pants)
- a peak cap and another packable hat with a brim.
- a few lightweight scarves or bandanas to keep sun off your neck, to dress up a bit at night, and to keep warm if it gets breezy in the jeep. You can also wet a scarf to keep cool if it is hot.
- a lightweight windbreaker is useful for when you’re out in the jeep.
- a fleece is fine so long as it isn’t too bulky in your luggage.
- inquire and our team can tell you if a swim suit, rain poncho or warmer jacket is recommended for your trip.
Khaki, brown or olive green colors work well because they don’t show the dirt. Also for aesthetics, you look and feel more like you are on safari and it makes for better photos.
Although not necessary, some guests like to use a fishing vest because of their many pockets to hold chap stick, sunglasses, binoculars, etc. It is nice to have these things ready to go since you’ll get up early in the morning for game drives. All you have to do is grab your vest and camera bag (or backpack) in the morning.
Pants, shirts, vests, lightweight jacket, and shorts with pockets are wonderful for holding small items in lieu of a purse. A pocket with a zipper or button is handy for valuables.
One guest recommends Tom’s canvas shoes in olive green or brown. They are really comfortable and are lightweight for packing. I wear them on the flight and around camp. Flip-flops are nice for inside the tent. I wear something like Merrell’s “siren sport” shoes most of the time on safari. Merrell | Footwear_Shoes Tennis shoes should also be fine.
A headlamp comes in handy in the tent at night and for reading in bed. Some guests keep a small flashlight in the pocket of whatever they wear at night for dinner. Make sure the batteries are new and take some extra.
Call your credit card company and bank to tell them where and when you are traveling. The last thing you want is for the bank or credit card company to put a hold on your card because they think it has been stolen. In addition to the tags that attach to the outside of your luggage with your name and contact info, put the same info on a piece of paper and put it on the inside of your check-in bag in case the outside tag get’s torn off. To be safe, make copies of our passports and airline flight information.
We recommend travelling with your electronic like chargers, cameras, memory sticks, adaptors for the electric plugs, etc. items in your carry-on luggage.
One guest’s advice: “I take a Nikon SLR with a 300 mm lens with a stabilizer, and a smaller lens for closer up shots. You will be surprised how close you can get to some of the animals and so sometimes the 300 is too long. I also take a pocket point and shoot for quick shots of people and while in camp.
You will be able to recharge batteries. But since it takes time to recharge and if there are others in camp, they may want to recharge batteries at the same time you do, I travel with three batteries for each camera (one on the camera, one in my bag in the jeep and one charging in camp.) I tend to be extra prepared when it comes to camera gear, but taking photos is my favorite thing to do on safari. Take some video. You’ll be surprised how nice it will be to have it once you are home. I take short videos bumping along the dirt roads and of lions, etc. Video uses up your batteries, so another reason to have extra ones.”
Take more than you think you’ll need. And test each one BEFORE you leave. I was on safari with a woman who took once in a lifetime photos at a Maasai wedding in Kenya. She could see the photos on the camera, but when she got home, none of the photos transferred to the computer. She sent them to the company who said that the memory card was corrupted and that there was nothing they could do. Since then, I always check each new card before I leave to make sure it is good.
If you like to see your photos right away, a small laptop and cable to connect your camera is nice. But, I usually don’t take one because mine takes up too much space.
Some guests like to travel with a Kindle because you can take several books in one lightweight Kindle. If you take one, don’t forget your charger.
There is an app called “WhatsApp” that allows you to send text, messages, video and I think voice messages free internationally if you have internet access. Internet access will be intermittent. But, you may want to have it on your phone for when you do have an opportunity to tell everyone at home that you are alive and having the time of your life. You may know of other apps that offer the same thing.
You won’t have many shopping opportunities while on safari. There are two nice small shops across the road in front of the Maun airport. The Johannesburg airport has many shopping opportunities and you will find all kinds of curios that make for nice inexpensive gifts that don’t take up too much room. Beaded animals are a popular form of folk art in South Africa.