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 clothing 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 bush walk, 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 4:30am 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 more 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

Safari Footwear

  • Ankle high Leather boots (you won’t need these for a mobile safari but will want them if you are doing a bush walk. Check with your operator)
  • Slippers or Sandals (A mobile safari camp may be pitched near Acacia trees with their thorns. This can poke thru 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 10am to 4pm 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 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
  • head lamp – a good head lamp 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.

  • Extra batteries
  • An adapter for your battery chargers
  • Cigarette lighter charging adapter

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

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

One Response to “What to Pack for a Mobile African Safari”

warda

Says:

Maybe I will need your car with those adapters

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