For most first-time visitors to Africa the imposition of the generally stringent luggage restrictions is daunting…you may not have a suitable bag and the idea of packing so light can be very stressful. So we would like to try and make this easier for you.
Over the years many of our guests have done considerable research on what bag to buy. We are always interested in new suggestions. For now the two top choices seem to be the following:
Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel Medium (www.eaglecreek.com) (this bag is 1 inch deeper than most regulations so don’t fill the bag to bursting!)
Safari Beanos Bag PR5 (www.redoxx.com)
Once you have your bag it is time to plan your packing. The main points to remember are that:
- Most safari camps / lodges and hotels provide basic toiletry amenities.
- Laundry can be done on a daily basis (many camps provide this service free of charge but some camps and hotels do charge a nominal fee).
- Mainly casual clothing is required.
As no formal clothes are needed throughout most of southern Africa, it is possible to limit luggage to the basics. More formal attire is usually required only when staying in the more prestigious city hotel establishments or on any of the luxury trains. On a wildlife safari, casual clothing is the order of the day.
The weather in Southern Africa is generally pleasant throughout the year – warm to hot days, and cool to warm nights – with summer (September to April) being the hotter months. During the winter months however (May to August), it can get really cold at night and in the early morning, particularly when on safari, so we would suggest that you pack accordingly.
- Passport (please ensure you have a minimum of 3 blank visa (not endorsement) pages in your passport. If you don’t have blank visa pages you may not be allowed to board your flight to Africa)
- Photocopy of passport photo page (in case of loss)
- Airline tickets
- Itinerary and any e-tickets or vouchers
- Pen for filling out customs forms etc
- Cash/travellers cheques and credit cards
- Small denomination dollar bills for miscellaneous tipping (Please ensure that all US Dollar notes are the 1996 series or after with “large heads/presidential portraits”.)
- Insurance documentation
- Any personal medication or equipment
- Cap or wide brim sun hat
- T-shirts (preferably with a sleeve to protect your shoulders from the sun)
- Long-sleeved cotton shirts
- Long trousers/slacks
- Pyjamas (warm/thermal in winter and lightweight in summer)
- Underwear (for ladies a sports bra is recommended for game drives as the roads can be bumpy and uneven)
- Socks (thermal options are recommended during the winter months)
- Good closed walking shoes (thick soled trainers are adequate and light walking boots for walking safaris)
- Sandals (preferably Teva-type)
- Swimming costume (some camps have a pool)
- More formal attire for your stay at any prestigious city hotels or beachwear for any beach add-ons.
Additional clothing – Cold winter months (May to August)
- Warm anorak or parka
- Scarf, gloves and beanie/woollen hat
Additional clothing – Warm summer months (November to March)
- Lightweight rain gear
- Lightweight sweater/jumper
Note: Bright colours and white are not advised whilst on safari. Camouflage clothing is not recommended for travel in Africa. Dark bush colours in natural fabrics work best.
- Good quality sunglasses (preferably polarised. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light)
- If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust. If you wear prescription glasses then bring a spare pair.
- Torch (ideally one per person)
- Personal toiletries (basic amenities are supplied by most establishments)
- Malaria tablets (if applicable) and any other personal medications
- Antihistamine tablets if you suffer from any allergies
- Anti nausea tablets if you suffer from motion sickness
- Moisturising cream, suntan lotion and lip balm (SPF 30 or higher recommended)
- Insect repellent for body application (Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice etc)
- For a natural repellent against mosquitoes and tse-tse flies try SkeeterBeater (www.naturesgift.com/skeeter.htm)
- Basic medical kit (aspirin, plasters, Imodium, antiseptic cream and anti-histamine cream etc)
- Tissues / “Wet Ones”
- Locks for duffel bags and luggage
- Ear plugs (some of the wildlife can be rather noisy at night!)
- Camera equipment (ideally with long telephoto lens for gameviewing) with plenty of film/memory cards and spare batteries. An image storing device is recommended as there are no facilities for downloading photos in the camps. Most camps have facilities for recharging batteries and storage devices.
- Waterproof/dustproof bag/cover for your camera
- Binoculars – these are essential in order to get the most out of your safari (ideally one per person). 8×40 or 8×42 is the recommended general purpose binocular specification for both birding and mammal viewing.
- Southern Africa bird guide if you are a keen birder, e.g. Newman’s or Sasol
Any spare space?
Ngoko Safaris is working closely with a village called Intaba Yeingwe (translated as Hill of the Leopard), about 13 kilometres from Victoria Falls. Most of the families in the village are subsistence farmers and the children have to walk about 6 km to the nearest primary school, sometimes past elephants, buffalo and even lion. Until now there has been no pre-school facility in the village. Benson is working closely with the villagers and has built a simple Kindergarten and play area for the children, along with a unisex toilet. We are still equipping this facility and if you have a spare corner of your bag free and would like to bring out something for the kids we would love to receive any of the following:
- Picture books suitable for Kindergarten kids
- Soccer balls (you can buy them deflated)
- Tennis balls (basically anything the kids can roll around)
- Pencils (preferable to pens)
- Crayons (for colouring)
- Toys – we will be putting together a Toy Box for the kids in the Kindergarten
We appreciate that weight allowances and restrictions on bag sizes mean that it can be difficult to bring additional items but we can often “make a plan” if you are keen to bring out some gifts for the children. For those guests who are interested we can also incorporate a visit to the village into a stay in Victoria Falls.
Things to leave at home
- Jewellery and other valuables
- Cologne/ Perfume (attracts insects)
Potential Lost Luggage
From time to time we hear from guests that a bag has gone astray while on their scheduled flights en-route to their destination and there can be a delay of 48 hours or longer before the bag and guests are reunited. Luggage that goes missing on scheduled flights is beyond the control of the airline as the airport controls what happens to passengers’ luggage from when it is checked in/out until it is put on/taken off the aircraft.
We suggest that you take the following precautionary action: pack a small bag with your essentials including any life sustaining medication, which can be carried with you as hand luggage. If your luggage goes missing, you will still have your essential items on hand to see you through the first couple of days while we try and recover your lost baggage.Also, for couples or families travelling with more than one item of baggage it is sensible to ensure you have a mix of clothes in each bag, rather than just one person’s clothes in each.
Most travellers to Southern Africa will transit through Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport. This airport has a known problem with theft from baggage. Travelers are encouraged to secure their luggage with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, use an airport plastic wrapping service and avoid placing any items of value in checked luggage. Make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur.
Still need more weight allowance?
If the idea of packing within the allowance is still too daunting, or your safari forms part of a much larger itinerary, then there is the option of purchasing an extra seat on the internal flights. The cost of this would vary depending on your flight schedule so please contact us for a quotation. The other option is to store your excess luggage whilst you are on safari. If you arrive and depart from different airports we can forward your luggage for you and store it until your departure. There are plenty of options; we just need to know in advance if you require any additional services so that we can make the arrangements.