What to Take and What to Leave?

What to Take and What to Leave?

Jim Holden presents Packing for Safari at Rootens

One of the most important considerations when planning a safari is what to take and what to leave.

By this I’m referring to how to pack for a safari.

I recently gave a talk on this subject, to a group of interested travelers at our local Rootens Luggage shop, here in Orange County.

I’m always struck by the different expectations people have of Africa and how they feel they should prepare for a safari.

Almost everyone has Africa on their bucket list, drawn by what they see and hear on TV, and in magazines and books, about Africa’s unique wildlife, particularly the Big 5, lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape Buffalo.

But when preparing for safari, most people think of Africa as a primitive destination, where they will need to be as self-sufficient as possible, taking everything with them for every eventuality.

Thorntree River Lodge Room, Zambia. Example of a gorgeous lodge overlooking the Zambezi river

Nothing could be further from the truth!

When going on safari, be prepared to stay at some of the most sophisticated hotels and lodges in the world, indulge in haute cuisine, be conveyed in modern aircraft and vehicles, and have some of the world’s best trained guides at your side, to keep you safe and informed.

Wonderful cuisine at Mara Ngenche lodge in Masai Mara

At my Rooten’s presentation therefore, I advise anyone thinking of going on safari, to leave almost everything at home!

All you need is two sets of safari clothes, consisting of khaki colored pants and shirts.

Besides underwear, a good sun hat is essential, and a light fleece or jacket for early mornings and evenings.

And for footwear, one pair of comfortable walking shoes, not boots, along with a pair of casual shoes to wear in the evening, so that your daytime walking shoes can be cleaned for the following day.

And that’s it!

Everything else will be provided.

No need to take soap and shampoo; most lodges and hotels provide them. And all lodges do daily laundry.

No need to take your dinner jacket or evening dress as more and more lodges let you dine when and how you like.

For photography, an iPhone is more than adequate for the amateur photographer. People coming back from safari invariably talk about how close they got to the wildlife. No telephoto lens needed.

And as far as bugs, snakes and dangerous animals are concerned, the only one to look out for is the mosquito. But it only comes out at night. And all lodges guard against mosquitoes using mosquito netting, and getting rid of stagnant water, where mosquitoes breed.

So when you’re packing to go on safari, take just the clothes you’ll wear on safari, and leave space in your suitcase to bring back all the exotic curios and artefacts you’ll buy in Africa, that you can’t get in the USA!

Do you have trouble packing light when you travel? Please leave your comments in the section below. We love to hear from you.

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Safari Jim “Musings on Africa”

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