Trying to decide what to bring on a safari can be daunting, especially for first-timers. While you don’t need two rolling suitcases full of items, you don’t want to be under-prepared either. And you definitely don’t want to bring items that turn out to be useless or impractical.
Here are some essential things to bring on safari we think you should consider before heading out into the bush. And if you see something here you simply must have right away, click the “buy” button and it’s yours in an instant.
Tilley Endurables Airflo Hat
A pith helmet isn’t necessary or advised, but a hat is one of the first things you should pick up before heading out. You will thank yourself for bringing a good hat (not a baseball cap) that keeps the sun off your face and neck. People swear by Tilley hats, and this one with Airflo panels built in is a great place to start — plus it will last for years.
Humvee Cotton Safari Vest
A safari vest is a godsend for all the snacks, memory cards, electronics and other things you might lose while riding in a 4×4. Having one in khaki color is also a plus, so you blend in with the surroundings and don’t disturb any of the wildlife. This one from Humvee is made out of 100% cotton to keep you cool, and comes with 20 different pockets to help you keep everything organized. It also features a two-way heavy gauge zipper that won’t get caught on anything when you’re trying to zip up.
SPT Personal Hand-Held Misting Fan
In case you didn’t get the memo, Africa gets hot… often really hot — especially when you are out on an all-day safari. To help keep cool, pick up one of these hand misting fans from SPT. They are light enough that it won’t load you down, and having cool water sprayed on you is much better than trying to pour water over your head, don’t you think?
Ultra Bright LED Headlamp Flashlight
Did we mention safaris often go on until after dark? Take a headlamp instead of a flashlight to easily see into the bush. You never know what side of the 4×4 an animal will approach, plus wearing a headlamp keeps your hands free for taking impromptu photos that need extra stability in low-light conditions. While you can spend upwards of $500 for one, headlamps in the $20-40 dollar range should suffice. This headlamp is the top rated on Amazon and features sturdy hinge locks which are perfect for a bumpy ride.
Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses
We’ve hopefully already got you decked out with the Tilley hat, but sometimes that hat just isn’t enough to block the sun. Having a pair of sunglasses on will not only protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, it will more importantly make it easier to see when the sun is right in your eyes. We think there is nothing more classic than these Ray-Ban wayfarers, you really can never go wrong with them.
Canon Ultra-Compact Binoculars
While you could try to view animals through the zoom lens on your camera, it likely won’t have the magnification power of a good set of binoculars. Binoculars allow you to zoom in and out quickly and focus with great clarity. You might even spot an animal before your guide does if you look closely enough. These set of binoculars from Canon offer fantastic image stabilization and will let you see anything approaching you from hundreds of yards out.
Kelty Kite Daypack
You don’t want to carry tons of stuff around your neck or in the pockets of your cargo pants, nor do you want to put it in a plastic bag that’s going to break a few hours into your trip. So if you don’t have one already, invest in a lightweight travel bag that you can sling over your shoulder. This daypack from Kelty is the perfect choice to stuff just about anything you could need inside. Plus it’s so lightweight enough that you’ll barely feel it. It also comes in multiple colors to suit your preference — we recommend the earth tones though.
Coleman First Aid Kit
Let’s face it, sometimes your going to pick up a cut or bruise when you’re on an adventure like a safari. You don’t need to bring a doctor with you, but having a small first aid kit handy keeps you safe when no help is near. This light first aid kit comes with 205 accessories and is small enough to toss in your bag. It’s a must have considering the cheap price.
Timberland Waterproof Boot
Many safaris include some time for you to get out of the vehicle and walk around, and on some safaris you might be walking the whole time. If you’re crossing the African savanna, you need better protection from the elements than your Chuck Taylor’s can provide. Solution? Get a pair of boots like these from Timberland. Yes that’s right, 90s fashion is back, and these Timbs will still protect your feet! They are also waterproof in case you get caught in one of the famous African downpours.
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion
It’s a fact. Bugs come in all shapes and sizes in Africa, and unfortunately, many can carry diseases. While there are plenty of malaria free zones, sometimes you have to go in an area full of bugs. For those times, it doesn’t get much better than this 3M UltraThon insect repellent. It has over 30% DEET which is sure to keep even the most bloodthirsty mosquitoes away from you.
Columbia Rain Jacket
As we mentioned before, sometimes those famous African downpours happen unexpectedly. You could carry an umbrella, but it usually takes up too much space and doesn’t exactly fold up nicely. Plus you would look pretty weird on safari with one. Instead, pick up this rain jacket from Columbia and toss it in your day pack.
JETech Portable Battery
It’s great to get rid of technology and go out into nature without any electronics at all. But more often than not, we still bring along our phones, cameras and tablet devices anyway. If you’re out and about and run out of charge, this JETech portable battery can charge any USB device you have and fits conveniently in your pocket — it’s about the size of lipstick. For the bargain price of just over 10 bucks, it’s worth having in your arsenal.
Camelbak Eddy Bottle
You’ll be thankful when the temperature is scorching in the midday sun that you brought along some water. But instead of buying bottled water and adding more plastic to the environment, pickup a reusable bottle and fill it up before you leave your hotel. Most of the water at modern hotels is completely safe to drink and will save you money. This Eddy bottle from Camelbak is small, BPA-free, and will become your best friend after a few hours in the sun.
North Face Khumbu Fleece
We’ve talked about how hot it in can get in Africa. Guess what? It can get pretty cold, too. Especially when you are leaving out on an early morning safari at sunrise. To avoid the chill of riding in a 4×4, pick up this North Face Khumbu fleece. It’s not heavy at all, but will still keep you as warm as much bigger jackets. It’s also extremely soft, sure to be comfortable if you end up having to wear it for awhile.
ZLYC Retro Leather Camera Bag
Most people are going to have some kind of camera equipment when going on safari these days, but you definitely don’t a heavy DSLR hanging on your neck the whole time. To help keep the weight off and keep you organized, you’ll want a camera bag to carry around. And why settle for some standard cheap pouch when you can get something stylish like the ZLYC retro leather camera bag. The color is classic, and the inside pouches will fit your camera along with several lenses. Not only is it the perfect look for a safari, you’ll want to show this off when you get back home, too. For more advice on camera gear for a safari, see Gear Guide: Essential Safari Photo Gear.