Safari Tips – What To Pack On Safari And Other Suggestions

Packing on safari is an art that has changed with time. The earlier explorers went out on horseback with their small retinue of porters walking behind in a tight group. They had a vague idea where they would find water and shot whatever they could find for food. Their safari gear was chosen accordingly. Wine gave way to champagne on bouncy backs. Sundowners and the chota peg became a fixed routine on safari. Gin & tonic was drunk to keep malaria at bay. Then came the need for more comfort with the arrival of the safari vehicles. The number of porters and the luxury desired, increased dramatically. Safari gear packed on these safaris was catered for guests who preferred to change for each meal. Dinner was a formal affair befitting the evening, always a special moment, an end to a glorious day in the wilds, even as a campfire flickered nearby. Today with camps and lodges spread across the length and width of Africa, the safari goer needs less to enjoy the wilds yet it’s easy to overpack on safari when one has no idea of the conditions that await you. That is why it’s essential to have more information on your safari when you pack. Based on our experience, we have given a few tips that you could use for your packing. We do hope you will find these useful.

Important Warning: Do note that plastic bags are banned in Tanzania. It is best advised that you carry cloth zip bags in your luggage.

Documents – please keep the original, a hard copy and a digital copy of:

a. Valid Passport with a valid visa and payment receipt of the visa
b. Flight tickets
c. Health Insurance
d. Trip Itinerary with details

Dress Code – Whilst we request that our guests respect the local customs when you are transferring to us, at camp its easy dressing through the day, although we would love to see you in the traditional dress of your people at dinner. In case you are unable to wear your traditional dress then we would be extremely obliged if you came in smart casuals or even a blazer. We have Maasai clothes at the shop, if all else fails. We love the evenings spent around the campfire or at the bar and the dining to be memorable for every one.
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Soft vs Hard Luggage – Many international flights offer 23 kg’s of checked in baggage in economy with 7-8 kg’s as carry-on luggage. If you are taking internal flights then the baggage allowance drops to 15 kg’s. Soft-sided duffel bags should be used as they are easier to fit in both local flights and your safari vehicle. Hard-sided luggage becomes difficult to manage on safaris. Please read the baggage allowances of both your international and domestic flights before you start packing. In short, we strongly recommend soft safari bags.

Please lock all the zips of your checked in luggage.

Notebook / Diary and Pens – In all probability your safari will be a life defining moment with loads of information coming your way. This is best documented in a safari notebook or a diary. Pens are essential to fill forms and you must have one, if not two, of your own.

Currency – Its best advised that you convert your US$ to Tanzania Shillings. Of all international currencies, you normally get the best rates for US Dollars in Tanzania. It is advised that you convert your money at the airport or at a bank. Do remember that US$ bills must be of updated design issued in 2006 or later, free of any rip, tear or marking.

Cards – Master & Visa are accepted in most cities but not in towns. Camps that do not have good connectivity may not be able to accept your cards.

Tips – Though the suggested tip value is in US dollars, tips are best paid in Tanzania Shillings as staff find it extremely difficult to convert foreign currency into local currency. Tips suggested are the minimum that would be well appreciated but you may pay whatever your heart desires. A Safari Guide tip would normally start from USD 60 per day per vehicle seating two guests and a good tip for the camp staff in the tip box is around USD 50 per day per tent.

Water – Most camps use water from Ndutu Rangers Post, but we bring shower water for our guests from our upcoming lodge in Ngorongoro, which is 90 kilometers away. It’s a 180 km run to get 5000 liters of water. It’s sweet and clean and we believe you will enjoy it. Only in emergencies do we use local Ndutu water.

Vehicles – Please find below the vehicles at camp. You may book these on first come first serve basic. Please speak to your agent.
Duchess 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – Open safari vehicle
Baron 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – Open safari vehicle
Duke 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – Open safari vehicle
Contessa 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – Short Chassis – Closed Safari Vehicle
Baroness 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – Short Chassis – Closed Safari Vehicle
Princess 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – Short Chassis – Closed Safari Vehicle
Count 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – closed safari vehicle – especially designed windows
Nabob 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser – ½ open safari vehicle designed for safari
Duke 4×4 Land Rover – Short Chassis – old but gold. Reserved for Directors
Buffalo Joe Supply Truck – not for guests

Plugs & Electricity – At camp, we use solar power and generators. Do note that electricity in Tanzania is 220-240 volts / 50 hertz and the sockets are British-type three rectangular blade pins. A converter plug is essential for your mobiles, cameras and personal appliances. Our safari vehicles and your tents both have charging pins.

Torch & Multipurpose Knife Set – Although, at camp your Maasai guide will have his torch and will be keeping a watch, it is advised that you carry a strong torch to move around at night between the mess tent and your accommodation tent and a smaller torch for your use at night in case of any emergency. The camping knife is an amazing tool and its use can never be predicted on safari, it seems to come in handy from time to time.

Cameras and Binoculars – To carry a camera or not remains your personal choice as a few people of late have told us that they prefer to feel and enjoy each moment on safari and retain it in their minds rather than try and capture it on film. Whatever be the case, good binoculars are an absolute must. If you are carrying a camera then remember you will have to adhere to weight restrictions on your flights but having said that, it is our experience that many airlines, if you are lucky and request with a smile and a tear, give you leeway with cabin baggage when they realize you are coming to Africa on safari. Ideally, we would suggest that you get two camera bodies with three lenses. A telephoto 400 mm or upwards with a teleconverter, a 70-300 zoom fast lens and a wide angle to capture the infinite beauty of the landscapes. Camera equipment can be bought and leased in most cities in the developed world. If budget is a constraint, then stick with a good zoom lens. Remember to always carry extra camera battery and memory cards.

Clothing – Whenever you plan your safari please take into account the:
a. Weather – Winter or summer? Is it cold or hot in your months of travel? Are the mornings and evenings cold even in summer when you are on a game drive? The Ngorongoro Highlands have an average altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. A jacket is always advisable. The Serengeti too is a high plateau sloping westward from the Ngorongoro Highlands to Lake Victoria with an average altitude of around 1500 meters above sea level. Its normally cool in the mornings and evenings and gets nippy when it’s wet. Afternoons can get warm to hot in summer.
Short Rain – November & December
Big Rains – March to May
Warmer Months – October to January
Cooler months – May to September
b. Dust – A few places in the Serengeti has black cotton soil that dries out fast and becomes a flaky dust storm behind your vehicle. Our transfers are normally done in a closed vehicle but for game drives you could well be in an open 4×4. Find out from the agent about the vehicle blocked for you.
c. Insects – in fly country, it’s advised to wear loose long sleeve thick cotton shirts and thick cotton trousers on game drives. In the evenings and for dinner, most time I wear a long traditional bottom that covers my feet to the ankles and a loose white kurta that covers my skin to the wrists with a waistcoat.
d. Type of vehicle If you are in a closed vehicle then you can get away with a lot but if you are in an open vehicle on game drives, you must take into account the cold and the dust when you pack.

The most important thing on safari is to be comfortable. Its best advised to select your safari gear based on your personal choice keeping the above points in mind. A detailed suggested packing list is given below for your ready reckoning.

Laundry – We have regular laundry by hand at camp and if you would like your laundry machine washed then we could send your clothes to Karatu. Our supply vehicle does a weekly trip to Karatu for stores and laundry.

Medicine Bag – Your medicine bag should include antihistamine, aspirin, ibuprofen, Panadol, emergency medicine, anti diarrhea, band aid, insect repellant, antacid tablets, and anti bacterial and anti fungal cream.
Ladies we suggest that you carry extra tampons, pads and panty liners (for trickle drying after urinating in the bush). Though soaps and shampoo is available at camp, you could also carry your choice of hair shampoo and conditioner if you so choose.

When you are packing for your safari, do take the above points into consideration. Ideally its best to pack the following:
4 x Inner T Shirts
2 x Loose Long Sleeve Shirts
1 x Safari Jacket
1 x Scarf
1 x Hat/Camp
1 x Shorts
2 x Long Trousers
1 x night pajama
2 x night shirt
4 x Socks
6 x Underwear
1 x Safari Shoe
1 x Slippers – Best buy a Maasai slipper
1 x sunblock
2 x insect repellants
1 x powerful torch
1 x small torch
1 x binocular
1 x safari pen knife set
Camera equipment of your choice
Memory cards
Extra camera battery
Tooth paste
Tooth brush
Medicine box with all your medicines
Passport with visa
Health Insurance
Itinerary with inclusions and exclusions
Eye lens lotion
Extra eye lens cap
Medicine Bag – antihistamine, aspirin, ibuprofen, Panadol, emergency medicine, anti diarrhea, band aid, insect repellant, antacid tablets, anti bacterial and anti fungal cream.
Tampons & pads
Panty Liners (for trickle drying after urinating in the bush).
Shampoo & Conditioner – is available at camp but please carry your own in case its special.