What to Pack for Safari by specialist Tim Brown.

What to pack for Safari

This question of “What to pack for Safari” is one which comes up quite often and it is a good question. If you are coming to Africa for the first time it is important to take into consideration the area you will be visiting to aid the answer.

Malaria

If for example you are visiting an area like Kruger National Park, which is the most well know national park in South Africa; you WILL need to take anti-malarial medication.

However, if you visit Durban and visit the oldest game reserve in Africa (Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve), you will NOT require anti-malarial medication.

So, doing a bit of research is important when planning your African Safari experience.

Medication

If you take any medications for any issues even things for Allergies you may suffer from please do not forget to bring them with you. The last thing you want to be doing is running around trying to source medication, particularly if it is prescription medications.

Weather

Considerations on Weather patterns is also important and noting the time of year you will be visiting. It is also important to remember if you are coming from the Northern hemisphere that the seasons are the opposite in Africa below the equator.

So best not to plan to bring warm clothing when because it is winter in the northern hemisphere….

Always check the weather forecasts before leaving for your Safari as weather can change especially these days…it can even Snow – Yes here in Africa! Most people would never think that but in KwaZulu Natal we have very high mountains called the Drakensberg and here at the tops of the mountains during winter we can have snow with temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius!

Fahrenheit to Celsius

Always remember to note Celsius, as down here we do not use Fahrenheit.

The simple equations of conversion are as follows:

Deduct 32, then multiply by 5 and then divide by 9, this will get you to Celsius.

The opposite way to get from Celsius to Fahrenheit is as follows:

Multiply by 1.8 and then add 32.

Example: If you read online that the temperatures in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve during December are 38 degrees Celsius that will equate to 100 Fahrenheit.

Always note that night time temperature drop a lot and we can have as much as 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) difference so always bring with your warm clothes.

Seasonal teperature averages : for KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

  • Winter – 10 – 33 degrees Celsius
  • Summer – 15- 40 degrees Celsius

Please note if you are visiting us on a Drakensberg mountain tour, you can expect in winter a drop to 0 degrees, but this is still not often.

What to Pack on Safari : Safari Clothing

If you are visiting South Africa in Summer remember that there can be huge fluctuations between day and night temperature. So always bring both Warm clothing and Cooler clothing.

Examples:

Days

  • Shorts
  • T-Shirts
  • Button up shirt
  • Open shoes or closed shoes
  • Hat

Nights

  • Long trousers
  • Warmer shirt
  • Jacket
  • Closed shoes & socks

You could add to this a light weight Poncho or rain jacket but that is up to you.

Don’t forget swim wear as the lodge we visit has a swimming pool for the limited down time you will have between looking for animals.

The reason I say closed shoes at night is purely for extra caution. In Summer we do get more activity with insects and reptiles, so the last thing you really want is to step on a snake that is warming itself on the pathway you are walking along. (This has ever happened in my whole life, but it is better to be safe than to be sorry).

Torch

Remember to bring a Torch with you in case you feel like walking down in the evening to the restaurant after a long day of sitting in the vehicle. Many people now have a torch on their phone but just in case you don’t a torch is a good idea.

Wearing of red clothing:

There has been much debate about colours of clothing like wearing a red shirt upsetting the animals….

To be honest, this is mostly rubbish.

The “dangerous” animals and animals in general i.e..: Lions, Leopards, Hyenas, African Wild dogs etc, they have different colour vision spectrums to humans. We must remember that animals have different vision and nocturnal predators have even more extreme differences.

How Animals See Colour

Nocturnal predators have slight colour vision as their eye make up does have Cones but far less Cones than Rods.

(Now Cones are for colour vision and Rods are for better night vision.)

The Theory that wearing RED is dangerous is nonsense – see the explanation below.

  • Humans have 3 colour sensitive Cones: Red, Green and Blue.
  • Most animals have only 2 colour sensitive Cones: Green and Blue.
  • This means they cannot distinguish between Green, Red and Yellow.

Day time animals have more Cones than Rods in their eyes, so they have better colour vision but the still do not have the same colour spectrum that humans have. 

So, this clearly shows that animals that hunt (Traditionally) later afternoon into the night and that are predators have no spectrum of the Red colours.

There are more problems with the detergents that we use to wash our clothes with as they give off Ultraviolet light. So, when an animal looks at us during normal lighting they see us as reflecting bright Blue… When under low light conditions (Night) they see us as reflecting bright white!

So, to just sum this up. Do not worry about what clothing you wear, if anything if you choose to wear a bright yellow/Orange or red shirt you will only possibly upset fellow visitors…

Camera, Phone, extra memory cards & international Adaptor

It is always a good idea to bring your Cell Phone as well as a Camera.

Don’t forget both chargers and don’t forget to check that you have an international conversion adaptor. In South African we use two and 3 pin round male plugs for our sockets so if you are from most other countries note an adaptor will be needed.

The reason I suggest bring both a Camera and Phone is that sometimes your Phone battery dies or visa versa and that is usually when a Lion decides to cross the road in front of us! Not a good time to not have a backup.

Sun cream

Very important especially if you have a pale complexion or are sensitive to then sun. Or though we spend much time in a vehicle the sun is still strong in Summer and even Winter. It is important to protect your skin as you really don’t want to be suffering with Sun burn when you should be enjoying you time here in South Africa on Safari with us!

Sun glasses

Always remember sun glasses, your eyes can feel the bright sun if you don’t wear them and if you at least have them with you, you have the option. You don’t really want to be wasting your time running around looking for a pair in the shops. (Unless you want to buy a new pair from Africa).

Binoculars

At present we do have a couple pairs of Binoculars in each vehicle however they are not going to be top of the range as the do get dropped etc. So, it is a good idea if you are particularly interested in birding or looking at animals from far, to invest in a pair of Binoculars.

Identification

Always bring some form of identification like your ID documents, Passport or drivers’ licence. Many of the lodges these days want to check you are who you say you are at check. This is due to the spate of Rhino poaching in South Africa.

It is also good in case you decide to jump off a mountain so we can alert your family of your fate… (Only joking, but you get what I mean.)

Cash/Gratuities

Although Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere it is always a good idea to carry a little extra cash if you wish to purchase items at small markets or give gratuities. (Please not gratuities are at your discretion and you are in no way obliged to give any “TIP”. If you do feel you would like to then to give you an idea:

Waiter staff would usually get 10-15% on top of the bill.

Guides vary from 150 ZAR per person per day to 350 ZAR per person per day. This is a lot of money and is totally at your own discretion, never feel obliged to do so!

Open mind

Don’t forget to pack your open mind ? this is very important, remember you are on holiday in Africa on Safari!

You will be engrossing yourself in nature so make the most of it!

Summary of what to pack on Safari:

  1. Medication
  2. Correct clothing
  3. Camera
  4. Binoculars
  5. Cell phone
  6. Sun glasses
  7. International adaptor
  8. Extra Cash
  9. Identification
  10. Sun Cream
  11. Hat
  12. Open Mind

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