Packing for a safari can be tricky. You’re travelling to an unknown country, with activities you probably haven’t done before – and can you even buy anything when you’re there?! Well, with a little bit of prior knowledge and a few handy tips, your packing will be as easy as pie – and that’s exactly where our ‘What to pack for Tanzania’ guide comes in. Read on for all the luggage info you’ll ever need…
No plastic bags!
Tanzania has recently banned single-use plastic bags (hurrah!) and if you arrive with them in either your hand or cabin baggage, they will be searched and removed. So, how does this affect what to pack for Tanzania? We usually recommend taking some sort of cover for your camera or bag to protect it from dust (or rain, if you’re travelling in the green season). Now, instead of a plastic bag, make sure you bring a proper, zipped cover. You may also have considered a plastic bag for spare memory cards or camera batteries; again, please use a secure wallet or purse instead. The exception to the rule is Ziploc bags, specifically used for carrying toiletries according to airplane rules, which will be allowed.
The second item on our what to pack for Tanzania list is a bag. Now of course you’ll be bringing a suitcase, but there’s one thing to remember – the small, bush planes in Tanzania can only take soft, squashy holdall-type bags and not hard-shell suitcases, allowing them to be pushed into the tightest corners of the hold. Small planes may also have a lower weight allowance than your international airline, so it may be worth checking before you fly and investing in a good pair of scales. Lastly, we always recommend taking a practical hand luggage bag that you can also use on safari for your extra bits and pieces – sunscreen, hat, camera, sunglasses, that sort of thing. A backpack or a handbag with a zip closure are both good options.
Loose, light clothing
One of our most commonly asked questions is probably, ‘What on earth do I wear on safari?’ Whilst there’s not really any correct answer (and we certainly don’t suggest that you buy a whole new wardrobe!) there are a couple of things to keep in mind that will make what to pack for Tanzania much easier. Loose clothing is always a good idea – you don’t want any tight zips or buttons digging in when sitting in a 4×4 – and neutral colours are definitely best. If you’re walking, you won’t be allowed to wear reds, yellows, whites or anything too dark so creams, khakis, browns and greys really are the best option. You don’t need to bring too much either. Lodges have fantastic laundry services with quick turnaround times – and lugging around a heavy bag is never fun!
Something for the beach
If you’re on safari in Tanzania, you may well be spending some time at the beach afterwards. Bikinis, swimming costumes, t-shirts and shorts are all great when you’re by the pool or in your hotel, but if you’re in a town (especially in Zanzibar) or visiting a local community, you’ll need to cover up with a sarong at the very least, and definitely something that covers your shoulders and knees. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up for dinner in the evenings either, but rather than bringing a whole new set of outfits, pack a couple of pieces of costume jewellery (leave the expensive pieces at home) or a colourful scarf to pretty up your safari clothes. Nothing in Africa is ever formal so you certainly won’t need evening dresses or ties.
Next on our list for what to pack for Tanzania is a selection of medicines. Most camps and lodges these days have good medicine boxes and if you need a cold and flu tablet, paracetamol or plaster, they will be your first port of call. But if you have medicines you take on a daily basis, or indeed you prefer a specific brand or make of pills, then definitely remember to pop them in your bag. This includes malaria medication (please refer to a doctor for professional advice), insect repellents, enough contact lens solution and even things like blister plasters. You may also like to pack wet wipes and hand sanitiser. Whilst definitely not required, the bush is a dusty place and you never know when a wet wipe might come in handy!
The things that always take up the most space (and weight!): shoes. So, which ones should you pack for Tanzania? It’s a myth that you need walking or hiking boots if you’re going on a walking safari. If you already have some, they will of course come in useful, but we don’t recommend buying brand new ones – just think of the blisters. A pair of comfortable, sturdy trainers or shoes will certainly suffice. Otherwise, we’d suggest packing a second pair of comfy shoes for game drives and to wear in the evenings (wear these ones to travel to save even more space), as well as a pair of flip-flops or sandals. They’re great for around the pool and for giving your tootsies some light relief after long walks in the bush.
We’re ending our what to pack for Tanzania guide with the extra things that certainly aren’t necessities, but that we quite like to have in our bags. A Kindle or an iPad loaded with books is a lovely way to spend a siesta – and can turn into a lifesaver if you’re delayed or have a long wait between flights. A mobile USB charger for your phone and camera battery pack can come in useful for emergency top ups, especially if your lodge only has one or two charging points. A spare battery for your camera may also be a good idea. If you have one, pop in a torch (some lodges provide them), and a good lip balm and moisturiser are great to protect against the wind and dust. Oh, and if you’re travelling in the colder months (usually May, June and July), gloves, a scarf and a hat will keep you snug on early morning and late evening game drives.