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Packing for Africa

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If you’re about to embark on your first African safari, I bet you have a lot of questions.  My main question before my safari through Zimbabwe and Botswana was “what do I bring?”  A trip to Africa, specifically a safari, is a very unique experience and while a lot depends on what standard of excursion you have booked, there are some things that I feel should be included to ensure maximum enjoyment and comfort. 

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Outside of the typical items (medical kit, bug spray, sunscreen, special clothing (for more info on clothing: AFRICAN FASHION SAFARI ), foreign money, adaptors, etc) there are a few things that I was so pleased I took with me that don’t often make it onto these lists.

The trip that I booked for myself would be described as “three star”, so probably the most comforting item I brought with me was my silk sleeping bag liner.  Three-star lodging in parts of Africa can leave much to be desired and it was nice to have my own liner to get into each night.  Before I left I treated it with permethrin to protect me from any creepy crawlies in the middle of the night.  With malaria being a real threat, doing this gave me great peace of mind.  (For more info on permethrin: https://www.repel.co.nz/products/repel-permethrin-treatment-kit-for-fabric)

Much of an African safari is spent driving from place to place and depending on what kind of vehicle you’re in, charging stations for your phone or camera may be minimal.  A high capacity power bank was one of the best things I took.  My power bank can charge four iPhones in half the time of a normal charger.  I used it every day, multiple times a day and also shared it with my fellow travelers who weren’t as prepared.  I never had to worry about my battery dying, even in the middle of nowhere, and was able to charge it at night so it was ready for the next day.

Nicole Africa

The main regret I have from my time in Africa is that I didn’t buy a “proper” DSLR camera.  So many people told me I didn’t need one and that my iPhone and basic “point and shoot” would be fine.  They said a DSLR would be too pricey, too heavy, too cumbersome. 

As it turns out, I really wish that I had taken the most expensive and bulky camera I could have afforded.  One of my tour-mates let me use hers for a bit and the challenge of getting a beautiful shot was all part of the fun of being on safari.  While the quality of the shot doesn’t determine the quality of the memory, the DSLR shots my tour-mate shared with me are much more enjoyable to look at than those I took on my iPhone. 

Instead of putting money into an expensive camera, I bought some semi-decent binoculars, which allowed me to enjoy the wildlife at a distance.  These were an okay alternative.  So if you can’t afford to or aren’t fussed on capturing the moment forever, the binoculars will help you at least LIVE in the moment from nearly any vantage point. 

Other items I found useful were my headlamp, a Swiss army knife (I actually used it for the first time in my life on this trip), a washing line with eco-friendly wash liquid, clothing deodorizing spray and my noise cancelling headphones.

Nicole Africa3

Everyone’s list will be different but I hope that this will assist you in planning for your African Adventure!

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