From smuggling quinoa to a bush camp in Zambia, visiting the coldest lodge on the continent (Asilia Africa’s The Highlands in the Ngorongoro Crater – pack your thermals!) and gorilla trekking in a pair of leggings, our resident writer Katie Jacholke has learned a few things about packing for a safari over the years. Here is her list of absolute essentials – and a couple of luxuries thrown in for good measure…
1. Cashmere socks
First up, a little luxury – my faithful cashmere socks. I’m a cold person and a night drive in an open vehicle or a morning walk in the dewy grass can really make me chilly. Thick, cashmere socks are the ideal companion for under boots on walking safaris, in an open top Landy, in bed and even on the aeroplane on the way out.
Once my walking boots and trainers are in my safari bag, the next item on my footwear list is a pair of flip-flops. Even if your camp doesn’t have a swimming pool, stick them in anyway- once you’ve clambered through the bush with an adventurous Maasai in a pair of brand new walking boots, your tootsies will be thankful.
Nothing beats a good paperback, especially a crisp new one from duty free in the airport, but the weight restrictions when travelling on small planes in the bush mean a Kindle on safari is a must. It will save valuable space in your suitcase for souvenirs and anything you buy whilst you’re on your trip – but just remember to download all your books before you leave.
If you don’t own one of these multi-purpose items already, then make sure to hunt one down on your next trip to the continent. Hailing from East Africa, the colourful, woven fabrics were just made for travelling and double up as a towel, picnic blanket, sheet, sarong, you name it! I’ve also been known to wear mine as a scarf in the evening, when all the khaki gets a bit much.
5. Down jacket
A friend in South Africa introduced me to down jackets and now I don’t know what I did before I had one. My favourite ones are from Uniqlo and come in both sleeveless and long-sleeve styles, with hoods and without. They squish into the tiniest of bags and are guaranteed to keep you as snug as a bug when the temperature drops out in the bush.
6. Face cream
Ridiculous? Perhaps – but this is my desert-island treat. I always have a good, thick, face cream with me to rescue my skin from wind-blown game drives, afternoons in the blazing sun and the extremes of temperatures. Bring one with SPF for extra skin-saving brownie points and throw in a wide-brimmed hat for good measure too.