How to Pack for Your First African Safari

By namibiatt|January 17, 2020

If you’ve booked your first safari with Namibia Tracks & Trails or are in your final planning stages before booking, you’re probably wondering what to pack.

If you’ve never been on a safari, you might be imagining a packing list of survivalist essentials.

But with Namibia Tracks and Trails, time spent on one of our safaris is a fun mix of high-end camps with outdoor adventure that will bring you close to nature while keeping you totally safe and comfortable.

Our safari packages include luxury accommodations, fine dining, and fully-stocked bars. One of our camps even has an in-ground swimming pool.

That being said, the places we visit belong to Mother Nature. The heat, sun, wind, wildlife, and the insects are all part of the excitement of an African safari, and should be planned for accordingly.

But with a little planning and proper packing, you can be prepared for whatever a Namibian safari tosses at you. Whether that be repellant to keep the biting mosquitos at bay, or Aspirin to soothe a headache after one too many after-dinner cocktails.

Your safari packing list for an adventure with Namibia Tracks and Trails is less about what you’ll need to survive in the Namibian wild, and more about what can make your journey even better than it’s already guaranteed to be.

Read on for our recommended packing list.

What to Pack on Your First Safari

Here we’ve outlined our recommended packing list by category.

What to Wear

In general, a Namibian safari calls for casual and comfortable clothing that is loose-fitting, breathable, and in enough layers to accommodate the hot days and cool nights.

Some safari guides will tell you to wear neutral tones, but we say wear whatever you want — just avoid all white or all black, which will stick out to animals. Plus, white gets dirty fast.

Be sure to bring long-sleeve clothing to help protect you from both the sun and insects, particularly mosquitos, which are especially active from November to April.

It’s important to remember that you might be limited in how much baggage you can bring (more on this below), so we recommend only bringing the essentials and packing wisely.

Our camps have laundry service, so you can wash your clothes whenever you need to. Consider packing no more than 3 or 4 outfits max.

The clothing you should pack for your safari includes:

  • Wide-brimmed hat to block the sun
  • Polarized sunglasses with UV protection
  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots — anything with a good tread
  • Long-sleeve shirts and t-shirts
  • Cargo pants, khakis, or cotton pants and shorts, or convertible pants that zip off into shorts
  • Warmer jacket for nighttime, like a fleece or a windbreaker
  • One “elegant casual” outfit for dinner in camp or a night in the city at the beginning and end of your trip (for example, dark jeans and button-up for men, summer dress for women)
  • Sandals for daytime use at camp
  • Swimwear and a towel
  • Cotton scarf or bandana (blocks wind and is great to dip in water to cool down)
  • Utility vest to keep essentials organized and close at hand
  • Pajamas
  • Socks and underwear
  • Waterproof jacket (if you’re visiting in the rainy season)

What not to wear:

  • All white or all black clothes — these stick out to wildlife. Plus, white gets easily dirty on a safari, and black can get hot in the sun
  • Any clothes with camouflage or military patterns — these are frowned upon as they are strictly intended as military garb and will bring you more hassle than they’re worth
  • Expensive jewelry that could be lost or stolen

Travel Essentials You Can’t Forget

If you pack all the wrong clothes for your safari, you’ll still manage. But your trip will be impossible if you forget some basic essentials like your passport and money.

Here are the items you absolutely need for your safari:

  • Passport
  • Visa: Varies depending on your country of origin
  • Money: Be sure to carry enough cash in the local currency for souvenirs, tips, etc. Credit cards are often accepted in the city, except for American Express
  • Paper and digital eTickets for all travel
  • Travel insurance and relevant documentation: Highly recommended for safaris in Africa
  • Vaccination card: Check to see which vaccinations, if any, are required before visiting Namibia from your country of origin, and travel with your vaccination card as proof
  • Printed and digital version of itinerary with necessary contact information for all stops, shuttles, etc.
  • Prescription medication
  • Malaria tablets: Get these at home before departing for Namibia
  • Backup glasses: If you wear prescription glasses or contacts, be sure to bring one or more backup pairs

Protection from the Elements

While we seek to provide a comfortable environment for all our guests, the one thing we can’t control is the weather.

For this reason, we recommend packing the following items to protect yourself from the sun, heat, and insects on your adventure:

  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Moisturizing cream for dry, hot days
  • Lip balm
  • Wet wipes
  • Basic first aid kit (aspirin, anti-histamines, cough drops, antacids, Band-Aids, etc.)
  • Insect repellant, specifically for mosquitoes

Accessories to Enhance Your Adventure

This short list of recommended items will greatly enhance your Namibian safari adventure:

  • Binoculars with at least 8x magnification (the more powerful, the better). Every traveler should bring their own pair — you won’t want to be fighting over the binoculars when a cheetah goes speeding past!
  • South African Wildlife Guide and/or South African Bird Guide for bird watchers (look for field guides or pocket editions)
  • Flashlight: A small, lightweight flashlight will come in hand at night in camp
  • Power adapters for Namibia: Type D and M power sockets are the norm here, so be sure to get the appropriate travel adapter for your devices — though we recommend using the opportunity to disconnect from everyday life and connect with what Africa has to offer.
  • Travel journal to record everything you see and experience
  • Handbag for your immediate needs like medicine, a book, your phone, wallet, and medication
  • Luggage locks
  • Portable power bank to recharge your phone and other USB devices on the go

Photography Equipment to Capture Memories

You’re going to see a lot of amazing wildlife and gorgeous landscapes in Namibia. A high-quality camera is a must to give these images the justice they deserve.

Casual travelers may be fine using their smartphone to take photos and video. But for higher quality photos, you’ll want to bring a DSLR camera with zoom capabilities.

Don’t forget extra memory cards and a backup battery for your camera.

Luggage Restrictions

One important thing to note is that whatever you plan to bring, you have to make sure you can fit it all in your allowed baggage.

Your international flight to Namibia will likely allow a couple of large suitcases. But if your journey with Namibia Tracks and Trails includes any charter flights, you’ll be limited to less baggage.

Specifically, passengers on charter flights are allows just one soft bag per person, weighing no more than 20kg each and measuring under 25cm x 30cm x 62cm.

Luggage on charter flights cannot have wheels, and can’t be hard suitcases. Only soft bags such as duffels and backpacks are allowed.

Get Prepared for Your Namibian Safari

Now that your bags are packed and you’re ready to go, it’s time to study up on Namibia’s wildlife, culture, weather, and more!

Read our “Welcome to Namibia” Travel Guides here »