Embarking on a safari in Tanzania promises an extraordinary adventure with stunning landscapes, warm hospitality and magnificent wildlife. To make the most of your travels, knowing what to pack for a Tanzania safari can be an important to-do. In this article we will guide you on what to pack for a memorable and comfortable journey into the heart of Tanzania’s wilderness.
Remember though, this is just a guide and your packing list may vary a bit, or a lot. In many cases, your Safari operator will also cover some items out-of-the-box. Always engage your safari operator beforehand to find out what’s covered and what’s not – it can help you save on some valuable luggage space and weight.
Essential safari gear
1. ClothingPack lightweight, breathable clothing in neutral colors such as khaki, beige, or olive green are great. Such colours blend into the surroundings and also aren’t a magnet for insects. Shorts and comfortable tops are almost always suitable during the daytime. However, it’s safer to opt for long-sleeved wear and pants to protect against insects and mosquitoes during the evening and night time. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a lightweight rain jacket or poncho. If you are travelling during the cooler seasons and have the Ngorongoro on your list then a mid-layer fleece can come in very handy – temperatures can hit around 6 degrees Celsius during the late evenings and early mornings. The Serengeti can get cool as well depending on the time of year you visit.
Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are important for bush walks and game drives. Choose sturdy, closed-toe shoes to protect your feet from thorns and insects. However, bring sandals for relaxing at your accommodation when you want to kick back – or if you are connecting to the Spice Island of Zanzibar.
3. BinocularsA good pair of binoculars will enhance your wildlife viewing experience, allowing you to spot distant animals and observe their behaviour up close. Almost all Safari operators will provide a pair (or two) in every vehicle. However, if you have your own pair that you prefer then do carry it along.
4. Camera and accessories
A camera is another essential to capture the incredible wildlife moments you experience. While a flagship phone will also do for most personal shots, it won’t capture the many landscapes and distant animals. Bring extra memory cards, batteries, and a charging device. A monopod can be handy for steady shots (or a bean bag) while in the safari vehicle.
5. Sun protection
Tanzania’s sun can be intense, so a bottle of sunscreen with a high SPF can come in handy, as can lip balm with SPF. Insect repellent containing DEET are great for the evenings and some Safari operators will provide a bottle to you. A lightweight scarf or buff to protect your neck and face from the sun, dust, and insects can also come in handy.
6. SunglassesA good pair of polarised sunglasses with UV protection can prove useful, especially if you are sensitive to bright light and sunshine outdoors.
7. Cash & cards
Cash and Cards: While major towns and cities accept credit cards, it’s wise to carry some cash in small denominations for tipping, purchasing souvenirs, or in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, inform your bank about your travel plans to ensure your cards will work abroad. Credit card surcharges are common in Tanzania and be ready to pay a little more when using a card. As a general rule, do not carry more than you need.
Practical safari gear
1. Travel documents
Carry your valid passport, visa (if required), and necessary travel documents. Make copies of these documents and keep them separate from the originals. Don’t forget travel insurance details and emergency contact information.
2. Medications and first aid kit
Almost all Safari vehicles contain a First Aid Kit, however, pack your own personal essential medications, including anti-malarial medication (if recommended by your physician), personal prescriptions, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications.
3. Travel adapters
Tanzania uses the Type G electrical outlets, so bring suitable adapters to charge your devices. Most tourist hotels and lodges will have a few travel adapters available but these can be in short supply during peak travel season. Best to carry one of your own.
4. Flashlight or headlamp
If you are staying at a tented camp, or are on a budget camping safari, a reliable flashlight or headlamp is crucial for navigating campsites and lodges at night and for spotting wildlife during nocturnal game drives. Most tented camp facilities will provide one in every room but carrying your own is never a bad idea.
5. Reusable water bottle
Almost all Safari operators will provide bottled drinking water everyday in your Safari vehicle. Some latest Safari vehicles also feature water purification systems that help cut down on plastic waste in the parks. If you are mindful of your carbon footprint then carry a reusable water bottle. It’s important to stay hydrated during safaris.
Comfort & leisure
1. DaypackA small daypack will be useful for carrying your essentials during game drives, including your camera, binoculars, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a water bottle. While not essential, it can prove useful.
2. Comfortable clothing for camp
Probably a repeat of some items in the clothing section but pack comfortable and casual clothing for evenings at the lodge or camp, including lightweight pants, T-shirts, and a warm jacket or sweater for cooler nights.
3. SwimwearSwimwear: If your lodge or camp has a pool or offers opportunities for swimming, pack swimwear for a refreshing dip.
Local culture & laws
1. Modest attire
When visiting local communities or towns, dress modestly out of respect for the local culture. Pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
2. Responsible travel items
Consider carrying environmentally friendly items such as reusable shopping bags, a refillable water bottle, and biodegradable toiletries to minimise your ecological footprint.
3. Plastic bag ban
Since 2019, all single use polythene plastic bags have been banned in Tanzania. It is strongly recommended that all types of plastic bags, zip lock bags or any other type, whether single use or otherwise, be avoided on your Safari and upon your arrival at your port of entry. Non-woven fabric bags and other recyclable non-plastic bags are encouraged.
Other safari add-ons
1. Guidebooks and maps
While not so important in the hyper connected World of today, guidebooks or print out maps can be really helpful – especially if you are planning on venturing alone anywhere.
2. Travel pillow and earplugs
Comfortable sleep during long drives or flights can make a significant difference. Bring a travel pillow and earplugs to ensure a restful journey.
3. Your favourite snacksWhen you’re out on a Safari the full day, you can get peckish. You can pack some non-perishable snacks like energy bars, trail mix, or dried fruits for long drives or when you’re on the go. You can also ask your Safari guide to stopover at a convenience store or supermarket before heading into the wild.
4. Safari Hat and ScarfIn addition to a wide-brimmed hat, consider bringing a lightweight scarf or bandana to protect your face and neck from the sun, dust, or wind during game drives or walks. Most Safari operators will provide one to you.
5. Travel locksTo secure your luggage, consider using travel locks to deter theft and keep your belongings safe during travel.
6. Swiss army knife or multi-toolHaving a versatile tool like a Swiss Army Knife or a multi-tool can come in handy for various situations, such as opening packages or chopping up some fruit from your Safari picnic lunch box.
Remember to pack according to the specific requirements and recommendations of your safari operator or tour company. They may provide you with a detailed packing list tailored to your safari itinerary.
By including these additional essentials, you’ll be well-prepared for the unique challenges and experiences that await you on your safari adventure in Tanzania. Enjoy the breathtaking landscapes, incredible wildlife encounters, and the warm hospitality of this remarkable destination!
Choosing the right luggage
Apart from what to pack for a Tanzania Safari, there’s always the question of what to pack it into. When preparing for a safari, selecting the appropriate luggage is crucial to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey. While there are various options available, it’s important to consider the practicality and compatibility of your luggage with the safari’s unique requirements. In most cases, soft-sided luggage is the preferred choice, especially when a safari includes local bush flights or uses safari vehicles with limited cargo space.
Soft-sided luggage offers several advantages for safari travel, particularly when it comes to compatibility with transportation logistics. Many bush flights impose strict luggage limitations, often allowing only 15 kilograms (33 pounds) per person. Soft-sided bags are more flexible and easier to fit into the limited storage compartments of smaller aircraft, ensuring that you can adhere to the weight restrictions without hassle. On the other hand, hard-sided or hard-shell luggage can be bulkier and may not easily fit into these compact spaces.
Furthermore, the rugged nature of safari vehicles and the bumpy terrains encountered during game drives can pose a risk of damage to hard-sided luggage. Soft-sided bags, made from durable materials, can better withstand the rigours of travel in these conditions. They offer flexibility and are less prone to cracking or denting, providing better protection for your belongings throughout the safari journey.
When packing for your safari adventure, prioritise the practicality and functionality of your luggage. Opting for soft-sided luggage ensures compatibility with luggage limitations on bush flights and offers better resilience to the rigours of travel in rugged environments. By choosing the right luggage, you can focus on immersing yourself in the wonders of the wilderness without worrying about logistical constraints or potential damage to your belongings.