The Ultimate Overland Safari Packing List

The Ultimate Overland Safari Packing List Africa

Packing for an overland safari – or any safari for that matter – can be stressful. If you’re anything like me, you always pack too much. But after my recent stint in Africa, I think now is as good a time as any for me to learn from my mistakes!  I’m sharing my ultimate overland safari packing list  with you to make packing a breeze and help you make sure you have everything you need.

Overland Safari Packing List Africa

The Ultimate Overland Safari Packing List Africa

Packing for a safari can be stressful and overwhelming.  Trust me , I know.  I spent hours on google trying to work out what to take, what tech I needed, what camera was best – and the one I agonized over the most – what to wear?! I know, a safari is not a fashion show but I read so much conflicting advice about colors that I my head was literally spinning. I’ve put together this guide to cover all the essentials so you can cut the research and get straight to the packing. Tech, Gear, Clothing, Photography Equipment and Accessories – I’ve got you covered!

Related: Want to know where this all started? Click to read about my safari route in The Ultimate Budget Overland Southern African Safari

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Camera Equipment

Lumix FZ70     GoPro Hero 4     Sony RX100     Fantaseal Tripod    Memory Card   Weatherproof Selfie Stick

My Picks: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70; GoPro Hero4, Sony RX100, Octopus Tripod for smartphone, slr & GoPro, Waterproof selfie stick
  • A DSLR/Bridge Camera with a minimum 60x zoom  (or as much as you can afford!) Don’t overstretch yourself here. Buy what you are comfortable with, a bridge is the perfect choice if you don’t have time to learn how to use a full DSLR and/or don’t want to carry multiple lenses.
Read My full review of the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 here.
  • GoPro Action Camera – if your planning on Bungee Jumping, Skydiving or any other adventure or water based activity!
  • Digital Point & Shoot with high ISO Capabilities & Minimum Shutter Speed of 30s or 60s –
  • 2x 32GB SD cards
  • 1x 64GB Micro SD Card
  • Spare Camera Batteries
  • USB Camera Charger
  • Octopus/Gorilla Tripod – which fits any & all camera you own!
  • Selfie Stick
Want to know more about those adventure activities? Click here for the Top 9 Adventure Activities in Victoria Falls!

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Technology

Iphone 6 Gold   MacBook Air 13"   Kindle Papwerwhite    anker-powercore    Universal Adapter   WD Passport 1TB

My picks: Apple Iphone 6, macbook air 13″, kindle, portable powerbank, universal adapter, 1TB portable hard drive
  • Smartphone
  • Lightweight Laptop/Mac – for watching movies (when there is a lot of travel time), backing up photos etc
  • Kindle (as much as I love real paper books, where weight is a concern, a kindle is the best way to go!)
  • Portable Powerbank – recharge your tech on the go. You might not always be near a power point!
  • Universal Adapter with USB Points
  • Portable External Hard Drive – take movies/tv shows & can be used to back up your photo back up (you can never be too careful!)
  • Headphones

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Accessories

Day/DSLR Bag    Drybag & Phone Case    Neck Pillow    Toiletry Bag   Overland Safari Packing List Africa

My Picks: Padded Cross-body Day Bag, Dry Bag, Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Flat Toiletries Bag, 20l Backpack
  • Padded Cross Body Day Bag – I like to have easy access to my camera equipment and so a padded bag is perfect.
  • Sunglasses
  • Wide Brim Hat/Baseball Cap
  • Buff
  • Scarf/Wrap – can also be used as a window shade!
  • Memory Foam Neck Pillow – makes sleeping on the truck (or any mode of transport!) a helluva lot more comfortable
  • Sunscreen min SPF 30+ (Malaria meds make you particularly prone to sunburn)
  • Dry Bag (for keeping the tech dry on various adventures – shark diving/mokoro safari)
  • Binoculars
  • Flat Toiletries Bag – it’s amazing how much space this saves!
  • 20L Backpack – perfect for taking essential stuff into your tent each night without having to unload your big pack, or as a more robust day bag if you’re a backpack fan.

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Gear

Womens Backpack    TSA Cable Lock    Packing Cubes    HeadLamp    Scrubba Washbag

My Picks: 50L Backpack, 2x Cable Locks, Packing Cubes (with Laundry Bag), Head torch, Scrubba wash Bag
  • 50L SoftCase Backpack (women) or 70L Softcase Backpack (men) – I’m not being sexist here, these are simply the optimum size backpacks my partner and myself have found, and what is comfortable to carry for the majority of travelers.
  • 2x Cable Locks (TSA Approved) – I chose cable locks over traditional steel-looped combination locks as on Africa’s bumpy roads they absorb the impact and do not break.
  • Packing Cubes (where have these been all my life?!) Particularly helpful when overlanding as you can compartment outfits/layers and grab out only what you need to take to the tent.
  • Personal Toiletries – deodorant, moisturizer, shampoo/conditioner/dry shampoo, razor etc.
  • Anti-Malaria Medication (better to be safe than sorry – and often required by the insurance companies.)
  • Mosquito Repellent Spray (with 50% Deet) – best used around the campfire at twilight

& for the Overlanders

  • Sleeping Bag rated between 0-5 deg C (seasonal dependent – but remember, it’s easier to unzip a sleeping back to cool down then wish you had another layer (or a better sleeping bag) to heat up!)
  • Full Size Pillow – can be purchased in South Africa & Nairobi – but almost nowhere in between. This pillow will make camping sooo much more comfortable.
  • Scrubba Wash Bag – washing machines are scarce in Africa and this awesome gadget makes hand washing easy! (Hand wash powder can be found easily in African supermarkets)
  • Headtorch – get a good/bright one. It will be your only source of light at night when camping.
  • Travel First Aid Kit – inc. paracetamol, Imodium/diarrhea medication, antihistamines, pain relief, band-aids etc
  • Wet Wipes & Antibacterial Gel
  • Clothesline & Pegs – some trucks will have washing lines, but it can’t be guaranteed.
  • Multiplug with USB ports (Powercube or Strip) – you’ll be everyone’s best friend on the truck!
  • Travel Pack Tissues and/or Toilet Roll – start collecting half used rolls of toilet paper in the weeks before you go, it’s going to come in super handy when the truck stops and you have to go in the bush!
haven’t booked your overland tour yet? click here to get 5% off your tour with tourrader – its actually cheaper than booking direct!

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Clothing

Overland Safari Packing List AfricaOverland Safari Packing List AfricaOverland Safari Packing List AfricaOverland Safari Packing List AfricaOverland Safari Packing List AfricaOverland Safari Packing List Africa

My Picks: 1x Elephant/Hareem Pants, Active/Hiking Pants, Leggins, Pac-a-Mac Waterproof Jacket, Bonds Sports Bra & Womens Fleece
  • 2x Lightweight Pants
  • 1x Pair of Jeans
  • 3x Shorts
  • 4x Tank Top/T-Shirt
  • 2x Long sleeve Top
  • 1x Thermal Fleece
  • 1x Waterproof Jacket (a pac-a-mac is perfect)
  • Sleepwear
  • 7x Sets of Underwear
  • 3x Pairs of Socks
  • Swimwear
  • 2x Nice/Dressy Tops/T-Shirts

Just for the Ladies (Or the men if you’re that way inclined):

  • 1x Long Skirt
  • 3x Leggins
  • 2-3x Sports Bras (did I mention the bumpy African roads?! Ouchie!)

Shoes

  • Closed Toe Walking Shoes
  • Flip Flops/Thongs (both for on the truck & shower blocks)
  • Trainers/Plimsolls you don’t mind getting wet (for activities)

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what colors should you wear?

So here’s the thing. It all depends on what type of safari you are doing.

Open-Sided Safari Vehicle

If you’re in an open-sided safari vehicle it’s best to wear neutral tones (and what you would consider more traditional safari clothes). Think greens, browns, beige and black. You want to blend in (with the truck). The animals are used to seeing the silhouette of the safari vehicles and as long as your not wearing florescent/bright colours you will be fine.

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Walking safari

If you’re on a walking safari (in the Okovango Delta for example) you want to follow the above with regards to neutral tones. It is also highly recommended that you wear full length pants, closed toe shoes and a hat at a minimum. The long pants/shoes protect your legs and feet from any of the vegetation or smaller animals/bugs that might be in your path. And the hat -(and this one should be obvious) – but the sun is strong.

One big no-no for a walking safari is wearing white or any bright colours. These, particularly the white, reflects the sun and you’ll ‘shine out like a beacon on the bay plain’ so to speak. And in doing so you’ll announce your presence to the animals – which on a walking safari is not what you want to do! (FYI – It’s much more likely you’ll scare them off then them attack you, but neither of which are good!)

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Overland Truck

If you’re in the Overland Truck it does not matter one bit what you wear. The trucks are huge – and can be any colour under the sun. (Ours was bright yellow!) If you’re in Southern Africa they will also have slide down glass windows and in East Africa they have canvas sides that are rolled up/down when on game drives to give you a better view/photograph opportunities. Although it doesn’t matter I would still stick with neutral tones – so you’re packing with a consistent theme.

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“…But I’ve read Black attracts the mosquito’s/bugs”

I read this too. But I didn’t find that what I wore had any affect on the mosquito’s. Neither did anyone else on our tour. Taking anti-malarial’s, using a bug spray with deet, and covering up at dusk and dawn meant that I hardly saw any mosquito’s – and I am normally their favorite meal. **This is my personal experience and that of our group – unfortunately if you are really tasty, those mossies might just find you***

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Things You Can Buy In Africa

  • Shampoo & Conditioner (relatively cheap in South Africa but the price creeps up the further north you go)
  • Sunscreen – it can be found in Chemists rather than supermarkets and is super expensive, but it is there. Better to take your own though!
  • Moisturizer
  • Hand Wash Laundry Powder
  • Clothes Pegs
  • Full Size Pillow (Nairobi & South Africa only)
  • Cheap blankets – can be found at  roadside markets and in Southern Africa a clothing store called PEP.
  • 1 Liter Water Bottle (for decanting from your 5L bottle)
  • Coffee/Travel Mug – perfect for grabbing a cup of joe on the go on those chilly mornings.

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Well that turned into a monster of a post – but I hope I have answered any queries you had about packing for an overland safari in Africa. And if I haven’t – let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

As usual, pins below so you can keep this post for future reference – and I got a little pin crazy on this one… click the pin icon on the right and see just how many I made!

Overland Safari Packing List Africa  Overland Safari Packing List Africa

Overland Safari Packing List Africa   Overland Safari Packing List Africa

Overland Safari Packing List Africa   Overland Safari Packing List Africa

Overland Safari Packing List Africa   Overland Safari Packing List Africa

Overland Safari Packing List Africa   Overland Safari Packing List Africa

Overland Safari Packing List Africa

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93 thoughts on “The Ultimate Overland Safari Packing List

  1. Annika says:

    Have you tried the Scrubba Bag yourself? I have read such mixed things, one being that they are very expensive and don’t actually work very well.
    Thanks for a great list, I have been eyeing with the idea of seeing more of Africa and this seems the way to go. Do you generally have space limitations for luggage on the trucks?

    View Comment
    • Vicki says:

      Hi Annika
      I agree the Scrubba bags are expensive, but it was perfect for Africa. It uses little water and is a good work out at the same time – the key is not to overfill them! With regards to luggage limitations, you have to consider that everyone’s bag had to be stored below the truck and most companies recommend not taking more than 20kg. I had a 50L backpack and 20L daypack which I kept on the truck with me with most people about the same – and that was a squeeze at times! Honestly, the less you can pack, the better.

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    • Vicki says:

      Oh the camera gear will get you every time! I’m pretty happy with my bridge – so no extra lenses for me – but I saw so many people (on other tours) with telephoto lenses! On one game drive the guide had the biggest camera/lens out of all of us!

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      • Christina says:

        Sometimes, I wish I could just go and not take any photos at all. Seeing the world through a lens is fantastic but you miss out on lots of other stuff that’s going on around you. I envy you for carrying a smaller camera. I take it you’re using the Panasonic Lumix? What are your thoughts on that camera?

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        • Vicki says:

          I know what you mean Christina – that’s just one of the reasons I love the Panasonic Lumix – because it has a screen (as well as a view finder) I find I can take more in of the things around me.
          I am totally head over heels in love with the camera – the x60 zoom that takes photographs at the same quality whether it is a full zoom or no zoom absolutely blows my mind. The zoom also moves really fast so moving between zoom depths is quick and painless. It also has lots of built in shooting modes – as well as the usual manual controls; its light, compact and doesn’t feel too heavy when your holding it for extended periods of time. It also has great video shooting ability (not up to the standard 4k video that most newer cameras have) but it can shoot full 1080p at 30s a frame – which for someone that doesn’t really use video, its fantastic.
          My only bug bear with the camera is that it is limited to 8 seconds and ISO 3,200 for manual long exposure shots. To combat this it does have a good night shot shooting mode that has 30 or 60s exposure (i’m not sure what ISO level it shoots at but I think it is at the lower end of the range) – which gives good, but not great, night/star shots. But this would be the only thing I would change! I bought it primarily for the zoom and it is perfect for safari 🙂

          If you’re a seasoned pro with a full DSLR, the Lumix FZ70 might seem a bit basic, but as a step up from a point and shoot for those you don’t have time (or use the camera enough to justify purchasing a DSLR) it is fantastic.

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          • Christina says:

            Thanks so much for taking the time to provide such a detailed description of your camera, Vicki. I have a few friends I think it would be perfect for. Although I have a Canon iD Mk II, in recent times, I’ve actually been using my iPhone 6 quite a lot as it saves time uploading for social media.

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          • Vicki says:

            You’re welcome Christina – I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about it since I got home! The social media thing is still a problem as the Lumix isn’t wireless, but I’ve been uploading them to my comp and then syncing my best ones to my phone. A bit of a workaround but not a bad options once you get used to it!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Sonali – I agree a great camera is key to capturing any safari, but a DSLR is pointless if you don’t know how yo use it! I love my bridge because it combines the best of both worlds – and at 60x zoom with 16MP quality, it makes for brilliant photos as the touch of a button!

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  2. BulKTraveler says:

    Great list,

    I still carry my 15in Mac Book Pro with me when traveling. I just can’t give up the power when editing video.

    I also always bring with at least 3 portable chargers. I always seem to drain all three during a day of traveling.

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  3. Amanda Williams says:

    This is a very thoughtful packing list. I really agree with the tips you have given about the colours and suitability of clothing particularly. I pack a bit lighter than you on the technology side of things, but that’s probably my age LOL!

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  4. [email protected] says:

    Very extensive list – thanks for sharing! Glad to know you can get some basic toiletries in Africa (I always try to bring the least possible to save on weight). I’ve yet to go on a safari but it must be amazing!

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  5. Sabine says:

    Having done so many overland tours in Africa (as a guide) I cannot agree more with you. The list is really complete. When you go through the list and pack your items, the only thing you need is to sit back, relax and enjoy your tour 😉 Thanks for sharing!!

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  6. Fiona Maclean says:

    Very comprehensive. I must try those packing cubes – they look like a brilliant idea for all occasions. I also appreciate the trouble you’ve gone to explaining different types of safaris. I know I’d need something like this if I ever booked myself on one

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  7. Deni says:

    I wouldn’t have the first idea of what to pack for a safari trip, so this is exactly what I needed. Great tips on buying pillows (I would have never thought of this!) and about packing clotheslines and pins. Did you have all these items with you when you went on your safari or were these items including ones you wish you had brought with you? Also, would you say that this list has many cross-overs with traditional camping lists? I have always gone camping in a motorhome, so I’m also looking for hiking backpacks, shoes, and tents. Thanks for these tips though! (I pinned it for later too 🙂 )

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Deni – I had all of these things whilst on our trip – plus a load of other stuff that I didn’t need!
      I think this would cross over as a general camping list, but as I have only ever camped on two trips (this one and in the USA 8 years ago!) I probably wouldn’t be the best person to ask 😉

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Anne
      It’s essentially a portable charger that can charge any device that has a USB port/charger/cable. You charge it from the wall or a laptop and then it can charge several devices – ipads, smartphones, tablets etc. It was a lifesaver for us when we were away from electricity a few days at a time!

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  8. Sia says:

    This is such a helpful way to compile a list of everything one might need and easy to check when packing! There were some things I have never thought about such as a wash bag . What are your thoughts on point and shoot cameras? I thought we have outlived them but sometimes it is so hard to bring a big camera.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Sia! I’ve always been a point&shoot girl until this trip – but I only upgraded to a bridge and not a full DSLR. It was the perfect mid-way point for me. Performance of a DSLR – with incredible zoom – and the lightweight compactness of a point a shoot. Throw in some awesome shooting modes and my complete lack of time (or inclination if I’m honest) to learn how to use a full DSLR and I ended up with a Panasonic Lumix FZ70 – and it is now my favorite camera!

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  9. Jenna says:

    We have yet to go on a safari, but this will definitely be helpful for when we make it on one, hopefully sometime soon! It’s always so hard to know what to pack, so thanks for sharing your tips. I typically wear neutrals most of the time, but I never thought about the fact that certain colors would be a turn off for the animals! Definitely makes sense why you would want to think about the color of the clothes you pack!

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Carol – I can totally understand the need for extra shoes – I’ll be honest, I managed to pack a pair of knee high leather boots (and wore them!) I didn’t include them as they weren’t totally necessary – but I loved having them anyway!

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  10. Lindsay says:

    I’ve always wanted to go on a safari, but haven’t quite made it there yet – I too am a habitual over-packer and this list will come in handy when I do finally make my trip! I’ve pinned for later use 🙂 Thanks also for letting us know what we can save and buy there! Much appreciated!

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  11. Vyjay says:

    Safari, the word itself is enough to conjure up images of vast expanses of virgin land and wildlife in their full splendour. Packing for a Safari is definitely different from what you would do for a normal trip. You have provided an exhaustive and valuable list which will stand any Safari goer in good stead.

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  12. Theresa says:

    Thank you for a thorough overland safari packing list. That’s still something on my bucket list for Africa. I wasn’t aware of color considerations to make though, thanks for pointing that out. … I’ve always been curious about the Scrubba wash bag and tempted to buy it one of these days.

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  13. melody pittman says:

    This is an awesome packing list. I hope I will need it to prepare for a safari some day. 😉 Who would have thought about a sports bra. I see the jeeps bumping all over the place but never really thought about it. You didn’t miss a thing. LOL

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  14. Jimmy and Tina says:

    Great tips, love the padded cross bag, I have something similar and like you like to have easy access to my camera and lenses when I bring it out with me, but usually lazy and get my point and shoot 🙂 Nice thing about cross bag is that they can actually double as pretty stylish as well like a nice leather handbag 🙂 Good to know about clothing color choices, I would not have even thought about that!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Eric! – and my pack weighed 24kg all up (4kg of which was tech!)so I arrived with my max weight – and then we had to ship stuff home at the end because of all the stuff we bought! Sleeping Bags got sent home too and we donated the pillows to some new people joining the bus!

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