You’re off to Africa, and it’s time to start thinking about what to shovel into your backpack (that’s the first tip: no suitcases). Here’s your cut-out-and-keep guide to what’s worth packing. Tick them off, or tick us off if we’ve forgotten something.
We’re not including trekking in this list, so all you would-be Kilimanjaro conquerors should take a look at a few of our tips in our guide to tackling Africa’s big peak.
Make sure you pack according to season, but the below are the basics to get you started.
The obvious stuff: shirts, t-shirts, jumper/jacket/fleece, pants, thermals, shorts, underwear including good socks, sturdy and comfortable shoes, thongs, rain jacket, cap or hat, sunglasses, bathers.
Other:A set of smart(ish) clothes – after a spell in the bush, nothing beats scrubbing up and putting on something a little more refined than your unwashed-for-a-month, dustbowl t-shirt and short combo. But don’t bring a suit, unless a black tie function is part of your safari itinerary.
Remember that garish, day-glo colours aren’t going to be a big hit on the savannah – your group won’t thank you if every time some precious wildlife approaches, they take a look at your luminescent pink t-shirt and bolt.
Keep it clean:band aids, antiseptic cream, water purification tablets, towel, emergency toilet paper, washbasin plug, hand sanitiser and Wet Ones
For the toilet bag:toothbrush & paste, razors, deep heat / tiger balm, sun-cream, deet 80% cream, shampoo, panadol or some other painkiller (particularly if you plan on a session on Malawi’s chibuku shake shake). Vitamin supplements can be pretty useful as well, and anti-diarrhoea medicine too.
Essentials:comfortable backpack and daypack (put them through their paces before you hit the road), sleeping bag, watch, torch, water bottle. Money belt or somewhere handy and safe to store your wallet and valuables.
Essential treats: camera and memory cards, binoculars (for safari), a good book (then swap it for another once your done), a deck of cards or a travel game, pens and a journal.
Just in case:sealable plastic bags, photocopies of important documents and contact numbers, and of course travel insurance. A Swiss Army Knife or something similar is another popular item to include.
And lastly here’s the travel guide tip: be sure to pack your sense of adventure, your humour and patience. Travel in Africa can at times be a frustrating and challenging experience, but those who approach it in the right spirit are rewarded with adventures to remember forever.