For many travelers, a trip to any one of the East African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda etc.) is a much anticipated item waiting to be struck off the bucket list. A long awaited safari probably inspired by “out of Africa” or “Lion King” and other more safari movies that you can list. Whilst Hollywood may have inspired your first trip to Africa, we sure hope that these classics don’t also influence your deck up. Safari fashion has long evolved from pith helmets and heavy-duty vintage khaki gear of the explorer days.
The East African region is vast and offers an environmental diversity that leaves you unsure of what to carry along your trip. Our weather’s unpredictability for instance, warrants that you are well prepped for whatever; rain or shine. It bewilders us too; it could be sunny one minute and you’d be totally drenched in the next.
Given your itinerary, packing for this trip requires that you be very practical. Consider that aside from traversing off-the-beaten safari tracks; you are also bound to explore extremely contrasting surroundings such as beaches, hiking trails, villages, city towns and so on. Visiting all these areas means that majority of your time will be spent outdoors; being mobile in transportation that most likely offers very limited luggage space. Weight limits and other baggage rules will also be a determinant of what luggage to carry. The amount of luggage handling that will take place makes a soft duffel bag the best bet for your trip. This bag is not only lightweight, making it easy to carry across all your terrains but it also fits within most airline capacity requirements.
What then therefore should you stuff up in this duffel bag? If your trip highlights quite a number of activities, you will instinctively want to pack a great deal clothing. The trick is to pack smart – do not over-pack. Whilst you may want to carry along all your favorite pieces, you do not want to be tied down to excessive luggage within the entire duration of your itinerary. Layering is a practical solution. Select comfortable fashion choices that can be won interchangeably and that are favorable for the destinations that you will visit; light and breathable pieces are ideal. Also keep in mind the people’s customs and values so as to ensure that you are respectful in the way of dress.
- Lightweight clothing that can be layered
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Sweaters or fleece jacket
- T-shirts and tank tops (be respectful of the people’s culture)
- Pants and/or shorts
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Rain jacket, windbreaker or umbrella
- Sunglasses and glasses case
- Dresses and/or skirts
- Hat or sun visor
- Scarf or bandana
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
- Hair brush or comb, hair ties, barrettes/bobby pins
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF
- Face wash and/or makeup remover wipes and Q-tips
- Night time moisturizer/lotion
- Lip balm with SPF and lipstick or lip gloss
- Personal hygiene items
- Feminine hygiene products
- Extra contacts, solution, and contact case
- Glasses and prescription sunglasses
- Prescription medication with the label/script so that you can refill if needed
TOILETRY BAG EXTRAS
- Personal mini mirror
- Hair products like hairspray and hair gel
- Shaving kit and extra razors
- Sewing kit/clothing care kit, stain remover
- Facial tissues and/or toilet paper
- Travel Towel
- Nail clippers and tweezers
Include an outfit or two and a few essential toiletries in your carry-on bag just in case you lose your luggage. Airlines require that liquids (toothpaste, shampoo and sunscreen), gels, aerosols and creams be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container, and they must be stored in a quart-sized, clear resealable plastic bag for screening at the security check at the airports.
Keep your tech gear in a way that isn’t easily noticeable. You might cross parts of East Africa that are ruled out as unsafe; be on the lookout for pick pockets.
- Mobile device and charger
- Laptop, iPad, or E-reader and charger(s)
- Camera and Go-Pro/video camera, memory card, and chargers
- Electrical converters and adapters
- Electronics organizer
COMFORT + ENTERTAINMENT
- Travel pillow, blanket, eye mask, and ear plugs
- Travel journal and pen (if you are into journaling)
- Books and magazines
- Deck of cards and travel games
- Lip balm and lotion
- Water bottle
- Guide books, travel guides, travel apps, maps, language guides, etc.
You will also need a document organizer where you can store all your important travel documents. It would suck to be stalled at the airport because you forgot essential paperwork.
- Personal ID/Student ID card
- Frequent flyer card(s) and other loyalty program card numbers
- Cash and credit card(s) (call your credit card companies before you travel to inform them of your travel, otherwise they might turn them off to prevent perceived fraud)
- Health insurance cards/document(s)
- Travel insurance information
- Reservations and itineraries (print them and save them electronically for easy access)
- Hotel and/or tour contact information
- Transportation tickets (plane, train, bus, car, etc.)
- Emergency contacts and important addresses
- Copies of all these things in case you lose your wallet
Every traveler is different; so your packing requirements might be different from the ones listed above. Just consider every activity you are going to experience and pack appropriately. Key pointers to remember: Do not overpack, be open minded about the people and places you visit, fully immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy yourself.
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?”
* Brian Jackman (British journalist and author, best known for his interest in wildlife and wild places – especially Africa)