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What to pack for a safari

From luggage restrictions on smaller charter planes to avoiding brightly coloured clothing, packing for an African safari – be it in Kenya or South Africa – can be a little daunting. To make the process easier, we have gathered packing tips from our experts at Mahali Mzuri and Ulusaba Private Game Reserve to ensure you are fully prepared for your African safari adventure.

Getting up close with Africa's majestic creatures during game drives at Mahali Mzuri

Tell us more about those luggage restrictions.

In Kenya, the Safarilink and Air Kenya aircrafts serving the airstrips nearest to Mahali Mzuri have a luggage limit of 15kg/33lbs inclusive of hand luggage. In South Africa, Federal Air flying directly to Ulusaba airstrip from Johannesburg, allows a 20kg/44lbs bag per person while maximum hand luggage is 5kg/11lbs.

A handy tip is to forgo wheels which add weight and instead opt for soft sided, lighter duffel-style bags, allowing you to pack more clothing and travel essentials. Safarilink, Air Kenya and Federal Air all have complimentary luggage storing facilities for excess luggage also.

Visit Safarilink or Air Kenya for more detailed information on the luggage dos and don’ts when heading to the Olare Motorogi Conservancy.

South Africa
For Ulusaba, visit Federal Air to read up on luggage allowances.

Leisurely afternoons by the pool at Ulusaba's Safari Lodge

Now what should I pack?

Let’s start with clothes. Lightweight clothing in muted, earth tones is recommended for game viewing and with game drives taking place in the early morning and late afternoon it is important to layer up with a windbreaker, jacket, fleece, or jumper and make sure to pack some long trousers also. Avoid bright colours as they can shy away the animals while biting insects are often attracted to striped patterns.

We’d recommend bringing a hat and a light scarf or bandana, handy to help keep you warm on cooler days or protect your neck from the sun on warmer days. If you are joining our rangers on a safari walk, bring lightweight comfortable walking shoes with a firm sole but avoid white or bright colours.

Sunglasses are essential while anyone wearing contact lenses should also bring standard glasses as game drives can often be dusty. Make sure to also pack a swimming kit and flip flops for those leisurely afternoons by the pool.

Plenty of photo opportunities during the twice daily game drives at Kenya's Mahali Mzuri

How about gadgets?

There will be photo opportunities galore hence avid photographers should bring their photography kit including extra memory cards – just don’t forget about those weight restrictions. Fear not, if you don’t have all the gear, smartphones are also great for capturing striking wildlife shots – just make sure to bring a fully charged power bank to ensure your phone or camera doesn’t run out of battery just when you spot the Big Five!

While you may wish to bring your own lightweight pair of binoculars – if so we’d recommend a magnification of 8x40 or 8x42 – on arrival at Mahali Mzuri you will be provided with a set of binoculars to use throughout your stay. At Ulusaba, we carry a spare set on all game drives and have several extra pairs available at the lodges.

Make sure to save a little bit of space in your luggage for a safari reference book. We would recommend The African Safari Field Guide by Mark W. Nolting. Part wildlife guide and checklist, part organiser and journal, this book provide an abundance of information and is great for noting down those unforgettable safari moments.

Support our local communities with vital supplies such as books and school materials

Anything else I should bring?

Both Mahali Mzuri and Ulusaba are proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows visitors to make a lasting impact in the local communities using some of the space in their luggage to bring supplies for schools or clinics.

Find out more about how you can help support the local Enkenju – Enkoirien Primary School, located about 4 kilometres from Mahali Mzuri or how you can help our pre-school projects; the Tisanani Batswari Disabled Centre; the housing projects for orphaned children and the literacy and library centres at the Mawewe High School and Mahlahluvana Primary School when travelling to Ulusaba.

Remind me of the essentials?

And of course, make sure to pack these essentials:
• Passport, tickets, and visas (if required)
• Any medication you may require and a small first aid kit
• Any vaccinations, if required
• Travel insurance
• Sunscreen and insect repellent – you’ll also find these in your accommodation at Mahali Mzuri and Ulusaba but you may have your own brand of choice

You will also find adaptor plugs in your accommodation, and on arrival you’ll be provided with sanitary wipes and your own face mask.

Lastly, what shall I leave at home?

Kenya is a polythene-free country and plastic bags have been banned. If carrying liquids in your hand luggage, we recommend using small transparent toiletry bags.

If you are planning on taking a drone, make sure you check the rules and regulations first as many camps and national parks do not allow drones or have strict no-fly zones in place to protect the wildlife.

All set to book? Browse our offers forMahali Mzuri in Kenya and Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa to find a safari to suit you.

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