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Heading to Africa for a safari and not sure what to pack? As Chad and I were counting down the days to our trip to Kenya last year, we struggled to think of anything other than the wondrous opportunity ahead. Lucky for us, we had the advice of friends (and indispensable guidance from the internet) on what we should pack. When we finally arrived, I was so thankful to have the right things—nothing more and nothing less. A well curated travel bag meant that I could fully immerse myself in the experience without worry.
Traveling in an open Jeep with little protection made me vulnerable to the African sun. I was careful to start each morning with a slather of sunscreen and re-applied throughout the day. In doing so, I was able to prevent serious burns that could have kept me at home when I would have much rather been adventuring. I love Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 because it’s super hydrating while offering protection and available in a travel size!
I appreciate the biodiversity of natural habitats and am fascinated by all the species allowed to live together in harmony. That being said, mosquito bites in Africa are not only itchy but also come with the risk of malaria. I made sure to carry mosquito repellant at all times to prevent bites.
Of all the beautiful creatures who roam the savannah, it’s also home to the Tsetse fly—a blood-sucking insect that can carry disease. Luckily, we did not encounter these flies on our trip to Kenya, however it’s best to be prepared. Earthy hues are also best for camouflaging with your surroundings so you don’t scare off the wildlife you’re there to see. I relied on a white or tan linen button down like this one most days, pairing it with khaki pants (the best option for disguising the inevitable layer of dust that will accumulate on your clothes).
Lightweight Bandana or Neck Scarf
The savannah is an unpredictable place when it comes to the elements. I was thankful to have a cotton bandana with me when the dust picked up and swept across the plains. When I wasn’t using it to cover my mouth and nose in the middle of a dust storm, I kept it tied around my neck to protect my skin from the sun.
As we trekked across the plains, the wind whipping through our open Jeep, I was extremely grateful for my favorite Barbour jacket. The mornings in Kenya were quite brisk, and without a good layer I would have been more than a little chilly. This is my go-to jacket for pretty much any trip because it’s water-resistant, standing up to unpredictable weather while keeping me warm and dry.
While I initially thought about packing some fancier options for dinner, I’m glad I didn’t. Being on safari is by nature a casual activity, with most of the time spent outdoors. I paired a lightweight sweater with my shorts on breezy evenings. Everlane has a good quality cashmere option for an affordable price tag. You can also pack a beaded necklace to add some flair without adding extra bulk to your bag.
While the sights from the comfort of my safari vehicle far exceeded my wildest expectations, I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t brought a high-quality pair of binoculars. While I spotted many animals throughout my trek, getting an intimate view of their expressions and interactions from a comfortable distance completely enhanced my experience.
It’s one thing to see an elephant calf splashing in a watering hole or a baby giraffe taking its first steps in person– it’s a completely different experience to capture those moments in a photograph and relive them for a lifetime. Chad and I always pack a range of professional equipment, but even amateur photographers can capture the experience with a quality digital point-and-shoot like the LeicaQ.
Writing in my travel journal is how I end each day when I’m away from home. It’s my customized, priceless souvenir, and I never leave home without a fresh one to immortalize the moments my camera lens can’t capture. When I reflect on my travels at the end of each trip, I am grateful for my journal’s ability to memorialize the experience and prevent the days from blurring together. I love the Smythson Travel Journal because its lightweight, durable design makes it easy to carry.
While excitedly packing for my adventure, I had to continuously remind myself: less is more. Most of the small planes that fly to conservancies have a strict weight limit, and I would have hated to ditch my items if they were overweight. I also found that most almost all the lodging in Africa offered laundry service daily allowing you to re-wear and re-wear. The simplicity of traveling light was a welcome experience. After all, nothing you pack can take the place of the lifetime of memories you will bring back with you.