This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions when booking a Zambia safari holiday for the first time. Advice on what to bring varies greatly depending on the type of travel (by car, by plane) and the season (colder or hotter, risk of rain or not).
Packing for A Safari
As most of our guests fly in, we’ll focus on this type of travel and what is essential. First of all, it is necessary to check the airline allowance. An international airline will usually allow for 23kg. In comparison, a small domestic charter plane limits the allowance to 12kg or 15kg in soft bags.
Soft bags are indeed the best type of luggage to bring because smaller aircraft have awkward stowage space. Also, these bags are more practical for the camp staff to carry on gravel and dirt paths leading to your tent or chalet. Bulky suitcases are simply not suited for the ruggedness of the African bush.
Another thing to remember is that most camps and lodges offer daily laundry, often complimentary, which makes packing light a lot easier.
Bush dress code tends to be casual and comfortable. You want to bring items that will keep you cool and protect you from the sun. Loose-fitting clothing in cotton-rich material is better than synthetic materials; this is crucial in hot environments. Favorite colors are khaki, green and tan (dust-brown), in line with the dull bush colors. It is especially important when going on walking safaris. If you are keen to dress up for dinner, you can bring brightly colored outfits, but honestly, the majority of our guests are happy to remain low-key.
Stay away from dark blue or black outfits as they attract tsetse flies.
Always pack a warmer fleece (or one of those packable down jackets), which is crucial if you travel during the colder winter months of May, June and July. Even in November or December, you can feel chilly enough to wear something warm after a rainstorm. We recommend beanie hats and scarves for the winter months. And a light cotton pareo (sarong), which you will soak in water, will help keep you cool in the hottest months of September, October and November.
Be mindful of the local culture, as Zambia is rather conservative, especially if you visit larger towns like Lusaka and Livingstone.
For footwear, we recommend a pair of lightweight closed-toe shoes for the game viewing activities (game drives and, most especially bush walks).
Don’t forget your socks!
For the rest of the day, a pair of sandals will be enough. We don’t recommend wearing high-heel shoes in the bush; they are not exactly compatible with rugged or wooden walkways.
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Plan on bringing a good quality camera (one with a decent zoom lens), enough memory cards and don’t forget your charger. We also recommend bringing binoculars.
Electronics can be charged at most camps, and in Zambia, we tend to use the 3-pinned UK-style plugs.
Then, of course, you will have your own list of preferred travel items and essentials. Check if your camp provides shampoo and the likes (we do!), insect repellents (we don’t), refillable water bottles (we do!) etc.
And please do leave your fine jewelry at home.
We’ve come up with a handy packing list to help you prepare for your safari.
TIPS: keep a little space in your suitcase to bring needed school or art supplies; this will always be welcome. And then you can fill that space with local souvenirs to bring home. Visit PACK FOR A PURPOSE to decide what supplies are likely useful for local schools.