Essential Items to Pack
Refer to the suggested packing list for comprehensive packing advice, but most importantly do not forget these essentials for:
Sun and heat: wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
Mosquito bites: long sleeves, socks, insect repellent, and closed-toe shoes
Dust: A bandana or buff
Purchases: Pack a lightweight duffel or nylon shopping bag that folds into its own pocket
Internal flights: Regulations are strict, and a fully soft-sided, duffel-style bag is required (available wheeled for easy rolling)
Also make sure to bring these essential multipurpose items:
A travel pillow to cushion your head in flight, your seat on notoriously bumpy roads, and your camera in the game vehicles
A wrap, scarf, or kikoy—a lightweight fabric that may be used for warmth when it is chilly, to protect you from the sun when you are exposed, as a beach wrap, to moisten and wear around your neck when it’s hot, and as a personal cover on the flight over.
Apps to Download
These apps can help make the most out of your time on Safari. Whether staying in touch with family and friends at home, or finding out how much a bottle of water costs, these apps can help.
Skype (skype.com) Free or low-cost international phone calls using Wi-Fi and VoIP (voice-over-Internet protocol)
WhatsApp (http://www.whatsapp.com) Cross-platform text, image, and video messaging without SMS fees
Oanda (oanda.com/currency/converter) Quick and easy currency converter
Pocket Universe (pocketuniverse.info) Astronomy app for iPhone and iPad
My Digital Earth (mydigitalearth.com) Apps focusing on African mammals, birds, wildlife & trees
Steller (steller.co) Tell your own travel story with photos, video, and text
For travel in the U.S., it’s best to use “TSA-approved” locks, which allow TSA to use a special key to open your bag for further screening without breaking the lock. When traveling internationally, most countries will page you or flag you to be present if there is a need to get into your bags (following the initial screening). We would suggest carrying anything valuable and prescription medication in your carry-on luggage at all times. If you choose to forego locks, many travelers carry along a stash of zip ties, which can act as just the right deterrent to prevent a theft.
In general, when traveling to Southern and Eastern Africa, you should be prepared with a variety of currency options, including: cash in small denominations (U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere, but be certain that your bills are clean, untorn, and issued post-2006); ATM cards (please ensure you notify your bank prior to departure, and ask about international fees); and credit cards (check which card is most accepted in your destination—Visa and MasterCard tend to be most widely used). If you plan to access cash from your credit card, you will be required to enter a PIN (personal identification number)—make sure to obtain this in advance of travel. Travelers’ checks are rarely accepted. It is very easy to exchange/access money upon arrival and in major towns during your safari.
Shopping & Shipping
If you see something you like, buy it! You may not find the same thing twice. We are often asked about shipping items home, which we generally do not recommend. However, if you find yourself at a reputable retailer, be certain to ask whether all shipping, duties, and customs clearance requirements will be met and paid for in the price quoted to you. Keep all paperwork, including contact details for the retailer.
Special Occasions & Requests
It is such a pleasure for us to arrange special surprises for you on safari! In addition, we can customize any private experience or celebration to suit your specific interests. The more we know about you in advance, the more we can exceed your expectations on safari. Just give us a call and we’ll work our magic.
There will be opportunities to share gifts on your safari—you’ll receive such a warm welcome from your guides, the staff at your lodgings, and from the local communities we visit. We suggest letting the guide know that you have a few things, and they’ll be sure to assist you in distributing them.
We try to be sensitive about how and to whom we give gifts. Often, the best approach is to provide school supplies to the teacher or principal at a school, who can in turn share these with the kids. We do not encourage random gifts to children you meet on the streets. Sometimes the most cherished connections are made with a gift such as a calendar that includes photos of your home area—everyone likes to see where others come from. A helpful resource for travelers who want to bring meaningful contributions to the destination they visit is Pack for a Purpose (packforapurpose.org)—several of the lodgings we work with support this initiative
Pit Stops on Safari
There’s no way to sugarcoat this: if you find yourself needing a bathroom break when out in the bush on safari, options may be limited. Many parks have designated facilities, and game drives will be planned around them; however, if you are on a classic game drive of three to four hours and have been diligent about staying hydrated, there’s a chance you may be far from facilities when nature calls. If so, rest assured that our guides can accommodate you. First, they drive to a location where they have a good vantage on the surrounding land and possible wildlife. Second, they park the vehicle in a way that lets you use the space immediately behind it—a so-called “green room” that provides privacy while still allowing your guides an eagle-eyed perspective on any movements in the surrounding landscape. The important thing to remember is that our guides are veterans in such situations; you’ll feel comfortable talking with them about your needs.