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Kenya Tanzania Uganda

What to Pack for a Safari in East Africa

By on September 5, 2015

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So, you are heading to East Africa. I suppose you are going to safari through the Serengeti and perhaps hike for Gorillas? Great. Lucky you. Have Fun. TAKE ME WITH YOU!

But in all seriousness, you are in for a treat. Safariing in East Africa was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I am excited at the prospect of those planning their own adventures to this diverse corner of the planet.

Friday-Friendly-Funny-Dave-Blazek-Friendly-Planet-Travel-Phone-chargerWith my total lack of organisation I am probably not best equipped to be handing out packing advice, but here is the things that I brought (or wish I brought) with me when I explored East Africa…

Luggage:

  • A Backpack – Because if you are camping, a wheelie bag is 50 shads of ridiculous.
  • A Sleeping Bag – A good sleeping bag is like a good wine. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy and you will sleep like a baby.
  • A Day Bag – For carrying day things while you do day activities (during the day).
  • Towel Or just steal one from a hotel.

Fashion:

  • Tops That Can Get Filthy and You Won’t Cry – Your bag, your belongings and your soul are going to get covered in dust. Bring cheap tops and burn them once you get home.
  • One Pair of Pants (Or Maybe Two) In a Safari Colour – I stuck to the one pair of green pants for 90% of my time in East Africa. In hindsight it wouldn’t have hurt to have two. Maybe in khaki. khaki and green just scream “Tourist” “Safari”.
  • Shorts – Because eventually your arms will be seven times darker than your legs and you will desperately want to try to even things out a little.
  • Waterproof/windproof jacket – I have a ridiculously flashy North Face jacket that I guard right up there with my passport. It is Gortex though, so it is completely windproof, water-proof and hopefully bullet-proof, given how much I spent on it… A good wind/rain jacket means less layers and totally beats the garbage-bag poncho look
  • A Warm Cardigan/Jumper – Because even East Africa gets chilly.
  • Thermals – Double as PJ’s.
  • House cats touring the African safari.

    House cats touring the African safari.

    Hiking shoes – I am not really into the whole hiking-boot look so I just brought Timberlands, which actually served me extremely well from dusty Tanzanian walks to Ugandan gorilla treks. They did get dirty but that just adds to the ‘’rugged explorer’ look… Right?

  • Sandals or Flip Flops – (or thongs of you are Australian).
  • Some Groovy Sunnies – Because you will look cooler in photos and eye-protection is important.
  • A Groovy Hat – Go for Safari colours. My personal favourite? Beige. Beige small floppy hat. Nice.
  • Socks That You Can Tuck Your Pants Into – I’m not kidding. If you think you are too cool for the tuckable pants don’t complain when army ants march into your underwear and attack…
  • A Sports Bra – To restrain your lady bits on long rides on pretty bad roads (also known as ‘African Massages’)
  • A Skanket – A scarf/blanket. Also known as a ‘Blarf’. Basically a scarf that looks cool around your neck but doubles as a blanky for plane journeys without Mummy…
  • Bathers – For swimming in the Nile. Obviously.
  • A Sarong – Skirt/scarf/cardigan, so versatile that it is basically the essential lightweight skanket.
  • A Semi-Nice Outfit – Because on those rare occasions when you go to a nice-ish restaurant you might not feel like wearing North Face and khaki…

"Out there we may catch a glimpse of David Attenborough if we're lucky..."

Gadgets:

  • Adapters – British power points. Because ‘Brits were here ’88’… (1888 that is).
  • Camera – Duh.
  • Camera Charger – Double Duh.
  • Torch – Get a headlamp. Wear it along with your pants tucked into your socks. All those photos of people wearing cute khaki safari outfits were lies. Headlamps and tuckable socks is what Africa really looks like.
  • iPod – Do not forget to download the Lion King soundtrack.
  • Binoculars – Unless your camera zoom can see Pluto you are probably not going to see it all through the lens, binoculars can give you some nice views of bloody lions faces as they munch on gazelles. Because that’s why you’re in Africa, right?

Lotions and Potions: 

  • Sunscreen – At some point you are going to get sunburnt – At least try and avoid it.
  • Insect Repellant – Because mosquito’s really suck in East Africa. They suck your blood and your enthusiasm out of your body and replace it with itchy bits and Malaria. Lather your body in Deet and hope for the best.
  • Hand Sanitiser – Because you are about to experience some of the scariest bathrooms in the world.
  • Moisturiser – Because hand sanitiser really dries out your hands.
  • Shampoo and Conditioner – Occasionally you may encounter hot water and you want this hair care duo to be by your side when you do.
  • Dry Shampoo – Because most of the time water will be colder than the arctic circle and shampoo and conditioner can wait for a warmer flow.
  • Wet Wipes – A wet wipe bath definitely beats a cold shower.

I Don’t Know How to Categorise These Things:

  • Stationary. If you are going to give things out to the local communities, give stationary for the school kids. Pens, pencils, notebooks… The kind of basic supplies we take for granted that can really help with childhood education in these less-privileged areas. Try and arrange to hand it to someone who can evenly distribute things in a school-setting rather than giving things to children on the street. You don’t want to support begging.
  • A Good Book – Or a Kindle if you are more modern and hip than me…
  • A Pillow Case – Stuff it full of your clothes and it will beat any blow up travel pillow that exists. (Or you can always just steal a pillow form your international flight. Rumour has it that Qatar pillows work well…)
  • Malaria Tablets – They might make you go insane but who has time for Malaria?
  • Travel Clothes Line – Because the one time I paid a campsite to wash my clothing they did it in the lake and returned everything pink and sopping wet… Bathroom laundries seem way safer…
  • Toilet Paper – African washrooms should also have a sign which says ‘BYO TP’.
  • US Dollars – You can pretty much use US as much as you can use local currencies and they are heaps easy to exchange than Australian monopoly money.

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1 Comment
  1. Reply

    Will Stephenson

    September 7, 2015

    Hey Kat!

    I love your posts from Africa. You’re blog is wicked 😀

    Chat to me soon about any changes you want to make to your blog in a business sense if you need any advice on anything.

    Also shoot me a message and let me know how your travels are going.

    I’m on a train to Edinbrugh right now.

    Take care and best regards,

    Will.

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About Me

Kat Knapp

Hello! I am a 22-year old Australian currently training to be a pilot and studying journalism and sociology I have visited 69 countries across all 7 continents and love to explore. Here is where I share my adventures.

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