Table of Contents

23 Top Safari Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

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Many people view an African safari as the ultimate “bucket list” travel destination—and for good reason! There is a particular enchantment about the open savannah, largely untouched by civilization and inhabited by the most stunning creatures. It is something that has to be experienced to be truly understood.

For most people, the prospect of going on a safari is both exhilarating and intimidating. That’s why I’ve put together this Safari packing list and a section on what to wear on a safari. There’s also helpful information on what NOT to bring, and answers to FAQs. Wherever you are going on a safari, these must-haves are sure to have you covered for just about any situation you might encounter.

23 Top Safari Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring
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What to Pack for a Safari – 23 Essentials

  • 1. Neck Wallet

    Keep important documents safe with a neck wallet. As you experience long travel days and inevitably get exhausted, it’s important to keep your passports in one place. This organizer can be worn around your neck to minimize the risk of pickpocketing or losing something essential. It can hold passports, phones, credit cards, and anything else you wouldn’t want to risk losing. It even has RFID-blocking material to stop digital thieves from scanning your credit cards.

    neck wallet

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  • 2. Insect Repellent Wristbands

    Since most safaris will be in Africa, you’ll want to protect your family from regional mosquito-born illnesses, including Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, malaria, and West Nile. Instead of being under attack from annoying and potentially harmful bug bites, use mosquito repellent to stay ahead of these pests. We like the wearable option instead of respraying toxic fumes all day.

    mosquito repellent wristbands

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Many countries in Africa censor the Internet. A good VPN can help prevent your connection from being blocked. Additionally, a VPN makes it extremely difficult for hackers to access your information or steal your private data. Cybercrime is up by a huge percentage in recent years, with over 100,000 attacks in 2023 in South Africa alone.

    Since a great deal of your travel time might be spent putting in credit card information and flight details – not to mention passport ID or social security numbers – having a secure connection is critical. NordVPN is our go-to because they are affordable and will protect you with one click.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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  • 4. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Not only is it uncertain that your hotel will provide a towel, but it may not be up to your standards of hygiene. In case you have dirty towels (or no towels) bring along your own for the journey. This one is great for hiking since it’s not big and fluffy like hotel towels. It also dries 10x faster than cotton as a more practical microfiber material. We find tons of uses for it along the way!

    Quick-Dry Travel Towel

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  • 5. Binoculars with Phone Adapter

    Africa boasts some of the most majestic scenery that planet Earth has to offer, not to mention its most mysterious creatures. One of the most essential items on your list, after investing so much to get here, is being able to take in the sights clearly. These are high-quality so you can get epic views but still maintain a safe distance. These even have an adapter so you can plug them into your phone for views and live-action screenshots.

    Binoculars with Phone Adapter

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  • 6. Universal Power Adapter

    You will likely be using major cities as the jumping-off point for your safari, and you will want a power adapter to suit these destinations. In terms of the safari itself, many people opt for glamping or camp resort experiences, and these sites usually offer electrical power as well. Come prepared with a universal power adapter that is suitable for anywhere you go. This one works in 100+ popular countries and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee.

    (Note: If you’re headed to southern Africa, you’ll want to bring a South Africa-specific adapter as well).

    Universal Power Adapter

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  • 7. Travel Insurance for a Safari

    Accidents do happen and can be even more common when venturing far from home. Traveling for a safari is not cheap anyway, so why wouldn’t you pay a small amount extra to protect your travel investment? The last thing you want is to pay out-of-pocket for international medical bills, expensive medivacs, lost luggage, or flight cancelations. Being that your domestic provider generally will not cover you overseas (Medicare and Medicaid in particular), you have to protect yourself from bills that would be difficult to recover from.

    Faye is our favorite travel provider because they make the process a breeze through their mobile app. It’s probably one of the cheapest aspects of your trip and well worth it for the peace of mind alone! Faye even covers entire trip cancelation, which is very rare for an affordable provider.

    Travel Insurance for a Safari

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  • 8. Cooling Towel

    One thing there’s no shortage of on a safari – is HEAT! The open savannah doesn’t offer air conditioning, but cooling towels are just about the next best thing. Simply by adding water, this magical towel drops to nearly 30-degrees colder than the outside temperature. It’s such a sweet relief on a hot day, and we wouldn’t travel anywhere warm without these. If the effects start to minimize, just add more water and you’re good to go!

    Cooling Towel

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  • 9. High-Quality Filtered Water Bottle

    Do not drink the local tap water. It is critical to avoid drinking unsafe water in Africa and many other less-developed areas as well. While many resorts and safari camps offer bottled water, it is best to make sure you have a consistent source of safe drinking water to stay hydrated in the severe heat. This Grayl option is worth the price-tag since it’s such undeniable quality! It will protect you from harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, microplastics, sediment, chlorine, pesticides, and more.

    High-Quality Filtered Water Bottle

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  • 10. Portable Universal Charger

    If you are going to be away from electrical outlets for a while, you will need a universal charger to keep your electronic devices fully charged. There are not generally electricity grids in the middle of the savannah, so use this charger to stay on-the-go. It has multiple USB ports so you can charge your devices quickly and efficiently.

    Portable Universal Charger

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  • 11. Motion Sickness Relief

    If you’re prone to any motion sickness, the safari land cruisers and game-viewing vehicles can be very bumpy! Use these patches to stay ahead of any nausea. They’re all natural and make a big difference in your comfort level for this exhilarating part of your trip! We also use them on boat rides, driving on windy roads, at amusement parks, and more.

    Motion Sickness Relief

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  • 12. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    During the summer months especially, rain is common and you’ll want to come prepared with a lightweight umbrella. It’s also brilliant to have for shade protection and just getting out of the sun for a bit on a long day of animal watching! This one is our favorite because it’s good quality and weighs only one pound.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

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  • 13. Deodorant Wipes

    When you are on a safari, it’s not always feasible to take a shower right when you need one. Deodorant wipes are the next best thing. These are refreshing and cooling with scents like mint and cucumber. They cleanse away sweat, dirt, and odors so you can enjoy long days without feeling sticky.

    Deodorant Wipes

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  • 14. Paracord Bracelet

    When you are trekking into the middle of the great outdoors, it’s always wise to have a few tools on hand. A paracord bracelet blends style and practicality, providing a few essential tools such as a flint fire starter, emergency whistle, and a compass.

    Paracord Bracelet

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  • 15. Travel Backpack

    Safaris often involve side trips, whether that side trip is an extended hot air balloon ride or a jeep drive to catch a glimpse of the Serengeti’s wildebeest migration. Make sure you bring a travel backpack that will carry everything you need for the day (like your phones, water bottles, neck wallet, umbrella, etc).

    Travel Backpack

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  • 16. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    We’ve sadly had something stolen out of our checked luggage. Now, anytime our bags are going to be out of sight or exposed to areas with petty theft – we bring these locks. They can be attached to your suitcase, backpack, or lockers in public areas. They’re also TSA-approved, so security won’t give you any fuss over securing your bags.

    TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

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  • 17. Jet Lag Relief

    They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Well, a journey to Africa often begins with what feels like a thousand layovers! Jet lag pills will help you be ready to hit the ground running instead of taking days to adjust to the drastic time change. We use them on the way there, and when we return home to get back on track faster.

    Jet Lag Relief

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  • 18. Packing Cubes

    Packing your essentials while staying lightweight and organized can be a challenge even for the most experienced of travelers. Use packing cubes to keep everything tidy and well-organized. These come in a variety of colors so every family member can have their own, and even bonus laundry bags to separate dirty and clean items. I can promise that once you try them – you won’t go back!

    Packing Cubes

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  • 19. First-Aid Kit

    Do not risk a small cut or wound getting infected. While the odds of sustaining a serious injury while on a safari are pretty low, any kind of travel comes with the risk of bumps and bruises. A first-aid kit can help take care of pesky cuts and abrasions and everything you need comes in this compact case.

    First-Aid Kit

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  • 20. Convertible Hiking Pants

    These hiking pants are the perfect safari wardrobe. They allow you to wear longer pants – or unzip them at the knee if you want a cooler shorts-style. It’s nice if hiking and you step in a muddy puddle, you can easily convert these back and forth between shorts and pants. They also have temperature-regulating material to keep you warm or cool, depending on the environment. Smarty pants!

    Convertible Hiking Pants

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  • 21. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    African bathrooms are not generally huge, unless you’re staying in a luxury resort. Regardless of whether you’re in a bungalow or camping outside – this hanging toiletry bag is a game-changer! It can hang anywhere and offer you a built-in storage system for all toiletry items like skincare, haircare, and makeup products. We never travel without ours. It’s one of the best items we’ve come across for consolidating the most regulated items.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 22. Activated Charcoal

    While traveling to a foreign country, the odds are that you might encounter foods and flavors you haven’t encountered before. In case you get hit with food poisoning or a bad stomach ache – activated charcoal is wise to have on-hand. It is an easy way to help rid your body of unexpected toxins and get back to enjoying your vacation.

    Activated Charcoal

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  • 23. Camera with Zoom Lens

    As an obvious but necessary packing list item, you will definitely want top-notch photos of your safari. Document the moment with this Canon set that includes a versatile kit lens and a powerful zoom lens to capture wildlife in the distance. It will make a big difference to walk away from the trip with images you will treasure for a lifetime, rather than blurry shots on your phone that will likely get lost there forever.

    Camera with Zoom Lens

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What to Wear on a Safari

Going on a safari will present you with a range of conditions. In particular, many travelers find it difficult to straddle that line between fending off the heat and the bugs. The bugs will leave you wishing you had better covered up, the heat will leave you wanting to shed longer layers.

The best way to approach this dilemma is to find the perfect blending of the two. During the hottest parts of the day, it is probably okay to wear shorts as long as you properly apply bug spray. During the dawn and dusk hours, when disease-carrying mosquitoes are at their most active, you will want to make sure you are covered by lightweight clothes that have ideally been pre-treated with bug repellant.

Either way, make sure you pack a pair of comfortable shoes with good tread.

What Women Should Wear on a Safari – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

In general, women should wear lightweight clothing that comfortably covers knees and shoulders. This is out of respect for local customs and culture as much as it is an added barrier against bugs and sun exposure.

Lightweight, stylish pants that cover your entire legs and ankles work well. Soft, light materials shirts also work well for staying cool. Keep in mind that darker colors are not only worse for heat but also for attracting mosquitoes. And don’t forget to pack at least one nice dress, as there are sure to at least one day or night where you will be relaxing over a nice dinner at your safari lodge or resort.

What Men Should Wear on a Safari – (Click to expand)
Below is men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

For men, wearing gear that is both lightweight and rugged is the way to go. As mentioned previously, avoiding bug bites is also of top concern, so the better the coverage you can get (while staying cool) the better.

Cargo shorts are good to have on hand, as well as at least a few changes of soft, lightweight shirts in both long and short sleeves. A baseball cap works well for staying put on your head during safari rides, but a more stylish brimmed hat can be nice for other sightseeing activities as well. Don’t forget to pack at least one set of nicer pants and a shirt as the opportunity for a nice dinner is likely at some point during your trip.

Remember to consider the climate and time of year for your particular destination. Africa is a big place, and the weather varies from place to place. However, in most countries, there are two seasons: wet and dry.

Packing for the Seasons in Safari

Safari in DRY SEASON – April, May, June, July, August, September, October :

Dry months might be warm during the day but can be deceptively cool at night Convertible zip-off pants and a sturdy pair of sandals can allow you to easily go from one to the other without a lot of hassle. Layers will allow you to also accommodate fluctuations in temperature. Don’t forget a jacket to give you an extra layer of warmth when you need it.

Safari in WET SEASON – November, December, January, February, March:

If are traveling during wet season, keep in mind that road conditions might be muddy, which means your walking conditions will be muddy as well Waterproof shoes are a must. Keep in mind that wet conditions don’t necessarily mean cold, so layers are critical to effectively navigating the fluctuations in temperature. A rain jacket and water-resistant backpack will help you keep your belongings (and yourself!) cool and dry.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)

Glamping or Camping – In many regions of Africa it can be surprisingly cool at night and in the early morning. Wool is a versatile material that will keep you cool when it gets hot, and hot when it gets cold. Packing other favorites such as t-shirts and your favorite yoga pants are good options as well.

Jeep treks – Lightweight clothes, layers, and a brimmed hat that fits snugly and won’t fly off can all help you enjoy the drive without having to pack too much into your day bag.

Nature Treks – Nature walks into the open savannah with an eco-conscious, licensed guide is one of the most enchanting activities and the best way to get a better view of your favorite animals. For trekking off road and into the brush, make sure to wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants as well as comfortable hiking shoes that are ready for any condition.

What NOT to Bring on a Safari

  • 1.Books:

    Heavy luggage is a no-no on most vacations, but this is especially true when it comes to going on a safari. The best way to bring your library of books to wile away the long layover hours is by buying a Kindle or other e-reading device

  • 2.Unnecessary valuables:

    There’s really no reason to pack fancy jewelry while you are on a safari, and don’t bring too much extra cash either. Not only is there a risk of theft or loss, but the idea of a safari is to get in touch with nature.

  • 3.Too many clothes:

    The best way to maximize your luggage is to pack basic outfits that can work in multiple situations, temperatures, and then to hand wash them on the go if possible.

  • 4.Drones:

    Not only are drones bulky, they aren’t allowed in most regions where you might be going on a safari. If you bring one where they are prohibited, you run the risk of having it confiscated, never to be seen again.

  • 5.Sleeping bags:

    Unless your safari journey specifically entails heavy-duty camping and you are in charge of bringing your own gear, a sleeping bag is unnecessary and will only weigh you down.

  • 6.Plastic bags:

    Plastic bags have been banned in many African countries. If you are caught with duty-free plastic bags, you might be asked to get rid of them, or worse, receive a fine.

What NOT to Wear on a Safari – (Click to expand)
Formal attire: Even if you will be enjoying a formal dinner at the camp’s resort, high heels, and other formalwear will make you stand out, and not in a good way.

Camouflage patterns: Camouflage is not considered a fashion statement in many regions of Africa. While light, natural colors are recommended, military-inspired patterns are not.

Dark colors: Dark colors will not only make you feel hotter, but they also tend to attract mosquitoes more than lighter colors.

FAQs about Safaris

  • 1. Where should I go on an African safari?

    Where should I go on an African safari?

    There are many options for first-time safari trekkers, but in general, the top 3 most popular destinations include the Masai Mara in Kenya, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, and Kruger National Park in South Africa. Choosing which one is best varies from person to person.

    Flying is the easiest way to reach Moab, with Canyonlands Field Airport just 20 miles outside of town. It’s a very small airport though, and only has flights to Denver, which are pretty pricey. Otherwise, you can fly into Grand Junction, which is just under two hours away, or the nearest major airport is Salt Lake City, almost four hours from Moab. Fortunately, in either case, there’s some beautiful scenery along the way. Some destinations, such as Kenya, have better safari travel structures in place but often come at a higher cost. Others, such as Tanzania, are a bit more rustic in their approach but can be easier on the pocketbook. Each destination has its own unique beauty to offer, and exploring these offerings is half the adventure!

  • 2. What is the best time of year to go on a safari?

    Africa is a huge continent, with safaris available in a multitude of countries. Because of this, there is no“one size fits all” answer to figuring out the best time of year to go on a safari. In general, dry seasons are a safer bet as roads tend to be less likely to close down. Additionally, it can be more optimal for spotting animals because the dry season tends to force your favorite “must-see” animals to congregate around the same watering holes and other water sources, which makes them easier for guides to spot.

    Perhaps the most important thing to consider is what matters to you in terms of what you hope to achieve by going on a safari. Popular activities such as witnessing the Serengeti migration or a visit to Kruger National Park can vary wildly in what is considered “peak” season. For example, if seeing baby animals is high on your list, November through March is the season for babies at South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

    Making a wish list of the experiences that matter most for your safari will help you better decide the best time of year to visit.

  • 3. Are African safaris ethical?

    Are African safaris ethical?

    Going on an African safari is ethical as long as you go about it thoughtfully. Watch for tour providers that focus on ethical tourism meant to provide a safe experience for both you and the animals. While getting the perfect selfie next to your favorite animal might be high on your bucket list, consider choosing activities that are easier on the ecosystem, and respectful of the animal’s natural habits. In general, activities focused on enjoying the animals from a distance are best.

  • 4. Are African safaris safe?

    As long as you are following the rules and not participating in blatantly dangerous behavior, yes, African safaris are considered very safe! However, it is always wise to check with your government’s travel site to make sure there aren’t any travel advisories in place, as well as to get advice on proper vaccinations.

  • 5. How much are African safari tours?

    The cost of your safari will vary widely depending on the time of year and also which destination you choose. Safaris that utilize a more rugged, DIY approach can be surprisingly affordable. Luxury safari lodges, however, can cost up to thousands per person, per day!

  • 6. Are African safaris good for families?

    Are African safaris good for families?

    Safaris offer a rich array of activities for families and are suitable for older children. From hot air balloon rides over the Savannah to see amazing animals in real life, safaris provide unforgettable memories and learning experiences. Keep in mind that some tour companies and lodges do have a minimum age requirement of 6 or 8. A widely accepted rule of thumb is that children should be at least age 8 to be able to appreciate a safari fully.

  • 7. Are African safaris good for solo travelers?

    Safaris offer an incredible getaway for solo travelers. Watch for resorts and lodges that waive the supplemental fee that often accompanies solo travel. If you hope to achieve solitude, you can book private drives and activities. If you are hoping to meet new friends, you are sure to meet other travelers at your lodge as well, so you won’t be short of people to share the adventure!

  • 8. How do I pay for things while on an African safari?

    How do I pay for things while on an African safari?

    The odds are that while you are on a safari, you will visit local villages and towns where you will find a vast array of locally made crafts and goods you will want to purchase. It is preferable to pay for these goods in cash, ideally in the local currency. ATMs are available at some resorts but do your research ahead of time to not only get the best exchange rate but to avoid the awkward situation of having to count out unfamiliar money on the fly when you arrive.

  • 9. What are the African safari big 5?

    What is called the “big five” while going on a safari in Africa refers to the most wished for sightings, specifically: lions, buffalos, leopards, elephants, and rhinos.