Packing for a safari holiday can be daunting if you’ve never been on safari before – or even if you have! Luckily, not only is Anya Lotter a seasoned safari goer, but she’s lived in several popular safari destinations around Africa. In her own words, this is what to take on safari if you’re a woman.
I can picture many of you ladies out there wringing your hands about what to pack for a safari. It can be daunting because of the element of the unknown, but I’ll walk you through what I do to help you along. And remember, there’ll be no judgement from the local lion or hippo!
Firstly, whether you’re a dress or trousers kind of girl, breathable fabrics are key, as you don’t want to get all sweaty if you can avoid it. Dressing in layers is another golden rule, as often the mornings and evenings are significantly cooler than the days. Morning game drives generally start quite early, while afternoon game drives can extend past dusk, so it’s best if you can adjust layers accordingly.
While dresses and shorts are great for when you’re in camp or around the pool, I prefer lightweight pants or leggings when on game drives or walking safaris. I like neutral colours so you can easily mix and match your wardrobe, plus, for safety reasons, it’s best to blend in with your surroundings when out in the wilderness. Whites, brights and darks are best left at home.
For warmth, you really only need one jacket or fleece. I find that sleeveless puffa jackets are handy, as while they’re warm on evening game drives, they can be squashed so that they don’t take up much space in your luggage.
Your bush adventure will often involve driving in open vehicles, so not only will you need a broad-brimmed hat to keep the sun off, but it’s crucial that it will stay on your head when you’re on the move. Wear this with sunglasses, which help both for sun and wind. And one of my favourite tips is to pack a sarong or kikoi. You can use this clever all-purpose item as a sun shield, as a warm wrap and as a pillow on a longer journeys.
When it comes to shoes, comfortable trainers or hiking boots cover you for travel between lodges and on game drives, while sandals or flip-flops are perfect to wear at camp during the day – and pumps are nice to slip on at night. If you want to get some exercise, pack a pair of running shoes; while not all lodges have gyms, most will offer yoga mats or have paths you can stretch your legs on. Can you detect a trend yet? Correct – no heels required!
Even the most luxurious lodges don’t have a dress code, but if you feel like you want to dress up a bit in the evenings, consider a nice pair of earrings and lipstick rather than packing evening wear.
Speaking of which, a girl’s toiletries are so personal, but here’s my advice. Unless you only use certain brands, leave your shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion at home, and use what’s provided by the lodges – it will almost always be excellent quality. Make sure your moisturiser has a high SPF; you’ll be in the sun a lot and the open vehicles can dry you out. Similarly, ensure you pack a chapstick (with sun protection) for your lips. And keep wet wipes on you for your hands and face. You can become pretty grubby on game drives, and they’re handy when travelling between lodges in remote regions.
Some nice-to-haves are a book that inspires wanderlust or tells a story of Africa (to enjoy in those quiet times) and a playlist to match the beauty that will surround you on your drives (which is also nice for you flights). Finally, pack a journal to record your safari experience. There’s no better time to let your mind wander, embrace the silence and show gratitude.
For more help with packing for a safari, refer to our general checklist by clicking here.
Need to buy any of these items? Take a look at The Safari Store, an online retailer that stocks great safari gear – and Art of Safari clients get a discount!