What To Bring On An African Safari?

It’s important that you know what to bring on an African safari in Kenya. Once you are on your way, it’s hard to go shopping. The few shops present in the Kenyan national parks only sell spears, wooden elephants and the likes. Besides, they are relatively expensive.

So this is what to bring on an African safari:

- Light colored clothes that cover your arms and legs. Mosquito’s, which transmit malaria, typically only bite uncovered flesh. Khaki clothes will bring you best in an “Out of Africa” mood, but white best bounces off the sun.

vulture, tsavo west national park, kenya

- Also bring a wind jack, warm sweater and even some gloves. In the early mornings (when game drives take place) and evenings, Kenya can be chilly, and up Mount Kenya it's literally freezing.

- Good sunglasses that block both ultraviolet ray types, UVA and UVB, as Kenya is right under the equator. Cheap ones often only block UBV rays well. Note that good sunglasses are expensive in Kenya.

- A hat against sunstrokes. A hat with chords is handy, so you can carry it on your back easily. Also take care to protect your neck, as this will burn quickly.

- Good walking shoes – best take water-tight leather half boots with good soles.

- Good binoculars – a magnification of 7, as in 7x50, seems to be optimal. Elephants, zebras, buffaloes etc. can often be watched from up close, but especially lions, leopards and cheetahs stay at a distance, and you’ll see nothing without binoculars.

vervet monkey, tiwi, kenya

- A good photo or film camera and lots of film and/or disk space, of course. Fuji and Kodak 100, 200 and 400 ASA (ISO) print and slide film is widely available in Kenya, but 100 ISO slide film is hard to find and 64 and 800 ASA film is non-existent. VHS and Hi-8 video is available in Nairobi and Mombasa, but expensive. Each town has at least one film processing shop. They can handle any film, but results vary. Lodges also carry basic photography stuff, but it’s expensive there.

- Please note that many tribes are sensitive about taking pictures. If they allow it, they usually want to be paid for it. They seem to think you’ll make millions with those pictures and they want their share...

- Anti-malaria tablets. While they don’t guarantee 100% that you don’t get malaria, they decrease the chances heavily. I’ve used Malarone myself – a relatively new drug which, contrary to many others, practically has no side effects but is more expensive.

- Still it’s good to couple anti-malaria tablets this with insect repellent containing DEET. This makes it hard for mosquitoes to find your blood vessels where they hope to bite you. As mosquitoes will only bite between sunset and sunrise, this isn’t necessary during the day.

- A small first aid kit with a few basics against headaches, minor bruises and especially some anti diarrhea medicine as you are almost guaranteed to get that...

- Also, just in case your safari company or lodge doesn’t provide it, bring your own mosquito net. There are also nets available that you can set up like a small tent over a mattress on the ground.

- Especially if you’re going during one of the two rainy seasons, also bring a rain coat.

- Many safari companies charge extra for sleeping bag hire, as well as your evening beer and booze when you’re camping, so take your own if you are on a tight budget.

So... now you know what to bring on an African safari. One more thing: if you’re flying in with a light aircraft (which are often used for transport between the parks and the big cities), take note of the serious weight restrictions for luggage (usually 10 or 12kg - 22 or 26 lbs - per person).

Please note that Kenya has the nasty type of malaria (Plasmodium falciparum). This isn’t funny, so take your precautions.

Prepare yourself well by reading these other safari pages:

Introduction: How To Do An African Safari In Kenya
So What Kind Of Kenya Wild Safaris Are There?

How to pick the best company for a safari tour in Kenya?

What’s the best season for an African safari in Kenya?

Kenya National Parks

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