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Embarking on an East African safari is a unique experience, and packing for it requires a different approach compared to other trips. With weight restrictions on bush flights (typically 15 kilograms or 33 pounds per person, including carry-on and camera equipment), and the need for appropriate safari attire, packing can be a challenge for first-time safari goers. We've compiled our top tips on what to pack for an East African safari.
Packing for a safari isn't just about clothing. There are several unique aspects of travelling to Sub-Saharan Africa that you need to be aware of. Here are some tips:

Prepare Your Documents

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa often require your passport to be valid for six months beyond your travel dates. They may also require a certain number of consecutive blank pages in your passport. Review all entry requirements for each country you're visiting well in advance of your trip. Be sure to pull out your passport well in advance of your trip, and thoroughly review all the entry requirements for each country you’re visiting. 
Kenya is a yellow fever country, so travelling from Kenya to countries like Tanzania, Mauritius, and South Africa requires a yellow fever health card. In addition to ensuring your passport is in order, obtain a Yellow Health Card and have it completed by your doctor. If you're over 60 years old, you may obtain an official document from your GP to be exempt from a yellow fever vaccine. All passengers must present their Yellow Health Cards to an official upon arrival.
Pay close attention to visa requirements. Most countries require a visa for entry.


Here are the links to apply for a visa for Kenya and Tanzania:
To apply for a Kenya visa, use this link: | Republic of Kenya Electronic Visa System
To apply for a Tanzania visa, use this link: Tanzania visa - Welcome (

Cash is King in Africa

Credit card machines are rare in the African bush, and you'll likely visit villages where unique souvenirs can be purchased. US dollars are widely accepted, and ATMs are available at international airports for local currency withdrawal. Be prepared to tip guides and service staff, as tipping is common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

What to Pack for Safari

The primary activity on an African safari is going on game drives. Most of your time will be spent sitting in safari vehicles while you and your guide look for wildlife. That's why it's paramount that your African safari clothes are practical and comfortable.
We break everything down for you below with further explanation, but your packing list for safari should include the following essentials:
•    Soft-sided bags
•    TSA approved clear toiletry case
•    2 pairs of pants in a breathable fabric
•    1 – 2 long sleeve shirts
•    3 layering tanks or t-shirts
•    Jacket / Windbreaker / hooded Fleece for the chilly early morning and evening game drives
•    Light scarf
•    Wide brim hat with chin strap
•    Sneakers & a pair of flat walking sandals
•    Waterproof dry bag
•    Sunscreen
•    Insect repellent
•    Lip balm
•    Plug adapters/converters (Kenya uses 3-pin UK style plugs with 220V)
•    Feminine Hygiene Suppl
•    Shampoo / Conditioner (Some camps provide these items)
•    First aid kit & your personal medications
•    Reusable water bottle
•    Cameras, Binoculars, Laptop, Phones, & Tablets

Luggage and Packing Essentials

You'll likely be arriving at safari destinations like the Serengeti or Masai Mara on a bush flight. These are small planes, often only a Cessna Caravan, that have strict weight limits. They also require that passengers travel with soft-sided luggage that can easily be stuffed into compartments. Kenya and Tanzania have banned single-use plastic bags, inclusive of the ones provided by international airports for toiletries. Use paper bags or cloth bags!

Clothing essentials

If you are going on safari in East Africa in places like Kenya or Tanzania, then you'll be just a few degrees away from the equator where the sun is strong. Despite the hot weather, you'll appreciate having pants and long sleeves for protection from the sun. These also help minimize bites and protect you from scrapes on walking safaris. Shorts, skirts, and tank tops are fine around the camp or lodge, but for game drives and bush walks, stick to lightweight pants and long sleeve shirts.

We recommend only bringing along one casual dress for the evenings around camp. Having one dressier outfit makes a night feel a bit more special. Nearly every evening you would arrive around sunset and would go directly to drinks around a campfire, a bush barbecue or hanging out having a drink in the common lodge areas before dinner. You would almost never go back to your tent or room to change first.

There's no need to burden yourself with heavy hiking boots, as they can be too hot and cumbersome to pack. Instead, opt for any pair of sturdy closed-toe shoes. Also, don't forget to include your slides or flip-flops - they're essential for your comfort. 

Swimsuit and Casual Clothes for Around Camp

Many safari camps, particularly the luxury ones, now feature swimming pools. These provide an ideal spot to unwind during the warm afternoons between game drives. Therefore, don't forget to pack a swimsuit!
Around the camp, you can opt for more casual attire such as shorts and a tank top or t-shirt. Unlike during game drives, there's no need to stick to neutral colors. Feel free to express your style.
Linen clothing is a great choice for hot afternoons due to its breathability. However, be mindful of the colors and types of clothing you pack. For instance, your favorite jeans or black shirt might attract tsetse flies. Similarly, brightly colored footwear like neon yellow trainers could potentially startle wildlife during a bush walk.

Laundry facilities

To ensure a smooth and efficient packing process, it is recommended to plan a specific time to do your laundry while on a safari. Most safari lodges and camps offer complimentary same-day laundry services, although the availability of this service may depend on the weather conditions for air drying. Additionally, you will find a laundry bag in your room where you can leave your clothes to be washed. The camp or lodge typically completes the washing and folding process within 24 hours, so it is crucial to time it correctly to avoid departing with wet garments.
However, it is important to note that due to cultural reasons, the staff at safari camps do not wash women’s underwear such as panties or bras. Therefore, it will be necessary for you to wash these items yourself. Many camps provide washing powder near the bathroom basin specifically for washing undergarments. In some cases, there may even be washing lines available where you can hang your underwear to dry.

Cameras, Binoculars, Travel Adaptors 

When preparing for your East African adventure, it's crucial to consider the equipment you'll need to capture the breathtaking scenery and wildlife. We recommend packing cameras and photography equipment in your carry-on luggage for enhanced safety. East Africa offers incredible photo opportunities, so bringing a quality camera can significantly enhance your trip.
Binoculars are another essential item for your safari. While some safari operators provide binoculars in their vehicles, these may be basic in specs. If you have a preferred set, it's a good idea to bring them along.
As for electrical considerations, it's important to bring a couple of travel socket adaptors. In Kenya, the associated plug type is G, which has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. The country operates on a 240V supply voltage and 50Hz.
In today's digital age, many electronics are dual voltage, meaning they can operate on both the 110 volts used in the US and the 220 – 240 volts used in much of the rest of the world. This includes cell phone chargers, camera chargers, and even laptop chargers. Therefore, you'll typically need nothing more than a plug adapter to use them in Kenya.

First Aid Kit

While embarking on your African safari, remember that you'll be in the wilderness, often hours away by plane from the nearest town or village. Therefore, it's crucial to pack a first aid kit with essential medications. This should include aspirin, cold medicine in case you catch a bug, an antihistamine for reactions to insect bites, diarrhoea medication like Imodium, sunscreen, and cough drops or throat lozenges. Given the scarcity of bathrooms in the African bush, it's best to be prepared to avoid any health-related discomforts.

Toilet Stops on Safari

Toilet facilities on a safari are quite different from what you're used to at home. While park entrances, picnic areas, and lodges usually have bathrooms, on game drives and walks, you'll need to 'go' in the bush.
If you're due for your menstrual cycle while on safari, ensure to bring the necessary supplies from home. Shops selling sanitary products could be hours away. Pack soiled items in brown paper bags for disposal—never flush these. Instead, wrap them in toilet paper and dispose of them in the bathroom bin. It's important to note that leaving soiled items in the bush is not advisable due to animals' acute sense of smell. The best practice is to secure everything in a Ziploc bag and dispose of it at your safari camp or lodge.

Pro & Cons of Flying to Masai Mara

When planning a trip to Masai Mara, one common question that arises is whether to fly or drive. Each option has its pros and cons, particularly in terms of luggage limitations, travel time, comfort, and costs.
Flying to Masai Mara is quick and comfortable, taking approximately one hour compared to a 5-6 hour drive. This is a significant advantage, especially for those who prefer to avoid long road trips. The flights typically use small light aircraft, designed for use on bush airstrips. Some planes may accommodate up to 38 passengers, but most are 4-16 seaters with your pilot sitting with you, often the reliable Cessna planes.
However, flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara and back carry a luggage limitation of 15 kilos per passenger, combined for check-in and carry-on. This can pose a challenge, especially for tourists such as photographers whose camera equipment may weigh more than the 15 kilos.
Another disadvantage of flying to Masai Mara is the higher costs, especially for larger groups of more than 2 or 3 people. The baggage limit can also be a limitation for those who need to carry more items.
In conclusion, the decision to fly or drive to Masai Mara depends on your specific needs and preferences, considering factors such as travel time, comfort, luggage limitations, and costs.

This guide should help you prepare for your East African safari. Remember, the key is to pack light, pack smart, and be ready for an adventure of a lifetime!

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