Things you should know before you start packing for your South African safari
Do a quick google search and you’ll find lots of blogs with titles like ‘What to bring on safari’ and ‘The top 10 things to pack for your safari’. Are they all really necessary? We don’t think so. Here’s our take on things.
The reality is, the things that are deemed important vary greatly depending on the type of safari you’re doing and the location. Something like shoes can make a big difference if you’re doing an active safari that involves a lot of walking, climbing, or canoeing, but this is not important when you’re doing a classic game drive – which is something that most game lodges offer.
Today, we want to help you decide what is important by highlighting some of the things that are often underestimated and overestimated when it comes to packing for a safari holiday.
The things that are often underestimated:
1) The power of the African sun
Many people underestimate the harshness of the sun and its ability to ruin a holiday. To prevent sunburn or sunstroke we recommend packing sunscreen with a sun protection factor of between 30 and 50, and good protective headgear. A lot of people wear baseball caps but these don’t protect those fragile areas like the tops of your ears and the back of your neck. We suggest taking a wide-brimmed hat that shades your entire face and neck.
Pro tip: Make sure you get a wide-brimmed hat with an under-chin tie. These hats tend to take flight on safari vehicles and you might end up having to rescue your beloved hat in very dangerous territory…or leaving it there as part of the lion’s share.
2) The usefulness of binoculars
This might seem like an archaic one but you’ll be amazed by the difference it makes to have a pair of binoculars on a safari. The rare and shy animals might be unapproachable and thus the only way to get a good look at them would be through binoculars. If that isn’t a reason enough – there is also a very nifty trick that you could try with a camera phone and a pair of binoculars. If you place your phone’s camera over one of the lenses of the binoculars, you’ll be able to get some pretty great zoomed-in photos. No need for a fancy camera.
The things that are often overestimated:
1) The importance of the type and colour of clothes you wear
The type and colour of clothing you wear will depend greatly on the kind of safari you’ll be doing but generally, people tend to overestimate the importance of this. First of all – don’t fall into the tourist trap – fancy safari gear is not necessary. Just wear comfortable, breathable and fairly dull-coloured clothes. Sure, it’s common to wear neutral tones, but that doesn’t mean that your kids can’t wear their favourite Shaun the Sheep t-shirts on your family safari. Chances are they’ll go completely unnoticed in the large, green safari vehicle.
2) The type of shoes you pack
Unless you are doing an active safari, there’s really no need to pack heavy duty hiking boots. A trusty pair of trainers or sneakers is all that you need on a classic safari. Of course, you might also want to pack a pair of slops or sandals for walking around the lodge or pool.
Some other things
These are just some of the things that we think are important to know before you start packing. Of course, you should always think about things like having enough layers of clothes for those chilly morning and evening drives, and – for the ladies – wearing a bra that offers enough support for the bumpy rides on the safari vehicle. Also, don’t forget to pack the basics, like a good camera, insect repellent, medication (including anti-malarial – if required in the area) and – most importantly – your sense of adventure!
At Indlovu River Lodge, we make it easy for you to live out your sense of adventure with your family and friends. All of our accommodation packages include two game activities per day. This means that you can choose the type of safari or game excursions that suit you (and your wardrobe) best. That being said, we know that camo is 'in' right now, so if you want to use this as an excuse to go shopping – we say go for it!