Safari Packing List – What to Pack for a Mobile African Safari

categories: africa travel

I was just on a mobile Safari in Africa in Botswana and wanted to summarize what I learned about what to bring from that experience. I started with a packing list from Royale Wilderness who was the operator I went with.

Royale Wilderness‘s great crew would pick up dirty clothes off the floor of my tent and launder it. Double-check with your operator to see if that is offered or you may need additional clothing.

Royale Wilderness told me that they did not wash underwear, but in my experience, they did wash out cotton boxers, but you may want to wear something that is easily washed out like boxers, or a low-maintenance travel brand like ExOfficio.

During the heat of the day, shorts were more comfortable, especially in late Spring and Summer. During the evening when bugs and maybe the mosquitoes come out, you will want long pants and a long sleeve shirt or jacket.

Royale Wilderness recommended jeans because they provide better protection if you are doing a bushwalk, which may not be included in your mobile safari. Check with your operator.

Safari clothing for women

  • 2 or 3 pairs of long pants (Preferably Jeans)
  • 2 or 3 pairs of Short pants or skirts if preferred
  • 2 or 3 T-shirts
  • 1 or more long sleeve shirts
  • Sports Bras for ladies (the country roads are very bumpy)

Safari clothing for men

  • 2 or 3 pairs of long pants (Preferably Jeans), I brought travel pants.
  • 2 or 3 pairs of Short pants
  • 2 or 3 T-shirts
  • 1 or more long sleeve shirts

Safari Outerwear

I was in Botswana in early December which is the start of their rainy season and the beginning of their Summer. We woke up at 4:30 am and the temperature was shirtsleeve weather. I never needed a coat. During the heat of the day, it got up to over 100°F or 40°C.

The winter is the most popular safari season in southern Africa, and it will be cold when you wake up. During the heat of the day, it will be shirtsleeve weather.

  • 1 Windbreaker or rain gear (Summer)
  • 1 or 2 sweaters (Winter)
  • A Heavy Jacket (Winter)
  • A wide-brim hat with a string (summer) – A typical safari vehicle is open-air so the string will keep that hat from flying away
  • A beanie and scarf (winter)
  • a buff or scarf – As you drive on dirt roads something you can pull over your nose and mouth quickly to keep out the dust is very usefulWhat to Pack for a Mobile African Safari #travel #trip #vacation #africa #botswana #south-africa #zimbabwe #namibia #zambia #safari #what-to-pack #planning

Safari Footwear

  • Ankle-high leather boots (you won’t need these for a mobile safari but will want them if you are doing a bushwalk. Check with your operator)
  • Slippers or Sandals (A mobile safari camp may be pitched near Acacia trees with their thorns. This can poke through canvas so we were encouraged to wear sandals even to just go in the back porch of our tent to use the facilities.

Safari Gear

A typical mobile safari schedule is to get up before dawn and do an early morning game drive and then to take a break in the middle of the day from around 10 am to 4 pm before an afternoon game drive. So you will have some time on your hands.

  • Books to read
  • iPad/iPod
  • A pair or 2 of Sunglasses
  • Lots of sunscreen
  • Insect repellent with Deet, I used a small sportsman stick
  • A small Medical kit
  • Anti-Malaria tablets (I recommend Malarone but please consult your physician about the best possible drugs)
  • A pair of Binoculars (8-30mm is fine for general game viewing, 10-50mm recommended for birding), binoculars with night vision would be interesting to have along
  • headlamp – a good headlamp will let you be hands-free in your tent
  • small LED flashlight – when we were out in the bush at night I was trying to use the flashlight on my iPhone and was envious of the people who had brought a much brighter compact flashlight
  • hand sanitizer, tissues, wipes – You will be out in the bush for hours at a time. Restroom breaks will be taken by going behind the vehicle to “check the tires”. Plan accordingly.

Safari Camera Equipment

I brought a digital SLR because I wanted to possibly sell some photographs as stock photography, but my point-and-shoot camera with a good zoom would also have worked fine for personal use (see Finding The Best Camera for Travel Photography).

  • I brought an 18-250mm Lens which worked great for shots of animals (see Botswana photos), but for birders, you will want a bit more zoom like an 18-400mm.
  • A monopod to steady the camera if you have a zoom, especially for video
  • Extra memory cards
  • Laptop/external hard drive (Optional)

Powering Electronics

It is not likely that your safari camp will be running a generator so find out what capability there will be to recharge electronic devices. The Royale Wilderness vehicle has a second battery in the vehicle which is used to power a fridge to keep drinks cold and also to recharge electronics. I brought more external batteries than I needed, but ask your operator what plug type you will need. It might be a cigarette lighter adapter instead. Also how many of them? The fewer there are the more you might want an extra external battery.  That might also make the difference between reading books on an iPad or eBook reader vs a paper book.

I was on this safari as a guest of Dewan Adventure Travel which can find the right Botswana safari for you.

Share this:
Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

4 Responses to “Safari Packing List – What to Pack for a Mobile African Safari”



Maybe I will need your car with those adapters

Ana Katrina Lopez


This has been really useful Chris! I’ve been thinking about what things I should be packing for my safari trip. I don’t really know what to expect which is why I’ve been unsure of what I need. Your blog has been quite helpful in giving me insights. The tips about the medicines are definitely going to be valuable. I didn’t know I needed them to be honest. Thanks again for this!

Chris Christensen


You are most welcome Ana



Every time I have been in a national park, Jeep safari is the only thing that fascinates me. I am a nature and a wildlife lover. So by doing jeep safari my both the desires are fulfilled. Never been in africa, but now looking for a trip over there. I hope your info will be helpful to me.

Leave a Reply

Tags: , , , , , ,