You’ve researched all the activities on offer, drooled over the camps and finally booked your flights, but now comes the tricky bit – what to pack for Zambia and your impending safari? Once you arrive, there’s not much opportunity to buy forgotten essentials so a little bit of forward-planning when it comes to packing is worth it. Our top tips on what to pack for Zambia should be all you need and, if you remember to pack your adventurer’s cap too, you’ll be ready for the safari of a lifetime.
If we’re talking about what to pack for Zambia, then footwear for a walking safari should probably be at the top of the list. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need fancy walking boots either. In fact, if you don’t own walking boots, we highly recommend not rushing out to buy them – imagine the new-shoe blisters, multiplied by the heat and a few pesky sand grains and… ouch! Instead, pack a comfy, sturdy pair of trainers or sneakers that you’ve worn before (and you don’t mind getting dirty) and if they have ankle support, even better. Insider’s tip: if your shoes get muddy or sandy, most camps will wash and dry them for you overnight so there’s no need to take more than one pair.
Neutral coloured layers
You’ll more than certainly have heard the advice to pack a variety of neutral coloured clothing for any safari, and whilst this is certainly true for game drives, it’s absolutely essential for walking safaris. Bright, bold colours (white, yellow, red and pink tend to be amongst the worst) pique the attention of the wildlife and when on foot, you really do want to blend into the bushes as much as possible. Pack a variety of grey, khaki cream and green-coloured clothing and a mixture of t-shirts, long-sleeve tops, trousers and shorts and you’ll be more than set for most eventualities. Extra points if they’re loose, light and breathable fabrics too.
It’s the continent of blazing sunshine and arid deserts but it still gets cold in Africa – really! June, July and August are the winter months in Zambia and in the mornings and evenings, the temperatures can plummet, particularly if you’re along the Zambezi River (Victoria Falls and the Lower Zambezi). When you’re thinking of what to pack for Zambia, don’t discount a warm jumper or fleece – you’ll be thankful when you’re hurtling through the bush at dawn, on the lookout for wildlife! If you have space in your bag, you may even like to pop in a hat, scarf and gloves too. If you’re not sure of what the weather will be like when you visit, have a look at our guide here.
Next on our list of what to pack for Zambia are the all-important electrical items. A camera is probably the most obvious and whilst there’s certainly no pressure to bring one, they are great for capturing magic moments and memories. Spare batteries and memory cards usually come in handy too, and, if you have one, a solar-powered charger. Even mobile camps have ways and means of allowing you to charge batteries, but you certainly don’t want to be caught short. Other electrical items include a phone (especially if it has a good camera), a Kindle for lazy siestas, and an iPad. Make sure you have the correct insurance for all of them.
If Victoria Falls features in your safari itinerary, you may like to be prepared with something waterproof. The infamous ‘spray’ that rises up from the bottom of the gorge is like walking into a shower and whilst it might not matter if your shorts get wet, you certainly don’t want your camera having a soak. A waterproof case for your phone, camera and any other electricals is highly recommended, as well as some sort of bag to zip them into safely. If you’re heading off on safari before or after your visit to the Falls, a secure bag will always come in handy, either for protecting items against dust and sand on game drives or from water damage as you canoe down the Zambezi!
We’ve covered clothes, shoes and electricals, but what else might come in useful on a Zambia safari? We always like having a good pair of binoculars with us, and suncream and sunglasses won’t go amiss either. Remember that all lodges now provide toiletries and insect repellent so save your luggage allowance (usually 20kgs on light aircraft) and leave them at home. If your lodge has a swimming pool, throw in some swimmers and a pair of sandals, and, if you like to feel ‘dressed’ for dinner, a pretty scarf or pair of earrings work wonders (but aren’t necessary if you don’t). Very, very lastly always remember your passport and visa documents and any medication that you take on a daily basis or have been advised to take (please ask a medical professional for specific advice on Zambia).