The ups and downs of packing remain a hot favourite on travel blogs, and not without good reason. We all know how ruinous it can be to the pleasure principle to find yourself at your dream destination with the wrong gear and without the right paraphernalia for the adventure at hand.
So, here are the Crucial Contents of your safari bag:
* Wear lightweight clothing in summer, but bear in mind that long pants and long sleeves help to protect you from mosquitos, especially when out on the evening game drives.
* Pack something warmer for early mornings and evenings. A sleeveless padded jacket or fleece comes in very handy in the bush. In winter, it can get pretty cold in the bush, so make sure you have a warm jacket, good thick socks and a scarf. Stash a beanie in your luggage too, along with one of those handy little squash-down raincoats. Pack several changes of T-shirts for daywear.
* Dinners at game lodges are informal affairs – and usually happen outdoors in good weather, so bring whatever is going to be most comfortable for you.
* Most private lodges offer guided bush walks, which are a wonderful way of having a leg-stretch after lots of hours on the Land Rover, and they also offer a fascinating encounter with the smaller things of the wilderness, so have a pair of good walking shoes on hand. Avoid walking in the bush in open shoes, to keep unwanted insects from joining you. Back at camp, open sandals or slip-slops are fine.
* Take a hat with a decent brim to protect you from the sun, pack sunblock, and use it liberally.
* Pack swimming things – there are gorgeous pooldecks at our lodges where you’ll want to cool down between safaris. Some lodges have splash-pools at every suite. Swimming towels are supplied.
* Natural shades of clothing, and especially khaki, are usually recommended, whilst bright colours – including white – are discouraged, to tone down the human presence in a world that belongs primarily to animals. I remember once being on a safari with a marvelously gregarious Austrian guest sporting a copiously large, stylish red hat and a jacket resembling Joseph’s amazing-technicolour-coat, and we all lived to tell the tale, so I guess colour isn’t such a huge deal and it isn’t necessary to don the look of a Naturalist, but for the bush, bland tends to be best …
* Perfumes are not recommended in the bush either, because they’ll give you away from more than forty paces!
* Have insect repellent on hand, and use it! If you’re using anti-malaria medication, take as prescribed. For those who prefer natural products, buy Citronella or Eucalyptus in spray or roll-on form. (Burning elephant dung also serves to repell insects, incidentally, but commercial varieties are probably more convenient.)
* Lip balm and tissues are a nuisance not to have on a game drive when the lodge is hours away. And even though there’ll be a refreshemnt stop on the game drive, have a small bottle of water with you for in between.
* Sunglasses are a must.
* Take a small daypack in which to cart essential items around during excursions.
* If you use prescription medication, don’t forget to pack it, and make sure you have enough. And if you wear prescription glasses, it’s always a good idea to have a spare pair i.c.o.e.
* Luxury lodges supply basic amenities such as soap, shampoo and lotion, and usually also tissues, cotton balls and Q-tips. Remember to pack any other toiletries you may need.
* Bring binoculars, camera (with good zoom) and video stuff, with as much extra memory as you can lay your hands on, to capture every moment of this dream safari. Have some extra batteries on hand – they always seem to get used up much more quickly than one expects! (If you’re really serious about photography, our Getaway Consultants can recommend lodges that offer specialised photographic safaris.)
* Electricity is generally 220/230 volts, 15 amps, via 15-amp three-prong or 5-amp two-prongplugs with round pins. Hairdryers are usually supplied, and there will usually be a tea andcoffee-making station in your room, perhaps also a mini-bar.
* Important documents to have with you are passport (keep a copy in your shoe!) and correct visas, travel insurance details, a notebook to record the highlights, medical history info if pertinent, copies of medicine prescriptions, and cell phone charger (signal is variable, but available at some lodges, depending on the area you’ll be travelling to.)
Here’s What Not to Take (if you’re going to an Exclusive Getaways lodge, that is):
* Don’t bog yourself down by taking too much. Our lodges generally offer a laundry service, either as part of the rate or at an additional cost.
* You don’t need to pack mosquito netting. Luxury lodges usually have mosquito nets around thebeds. (If you’re anxious about going to a malaria area, we can recommend wonderful safari lodges in non-malaria areas.)
* Food and beverages are supplied in copious amounts, so you don’t need to take anything to snack on. Remember to tell your consultant about any dietary requirements that need to be observed at the lodges you’re visiting.
* Activities are laid on at game lodges, so you needn’t take anything with entertainment value, though a book is always nice for those odd hours at the pool.
Feel free to ask us if you feel unsure about how to prepare for your safari. Mail us, or call 0860 102 907 (local) or +27 21 797-7122 (international).