GORP's Safari Survival List

What to Bring to the Bush
Safari. There's nothing to it. Just sit back and watch the wildest show on earth. Whether you are opting for a traditional safari, a walking safari, balloon safari, or a combination of it all—our safari survival guide lists the essential items and the not-so-essential items to make your journey a comfortable and unforgettable experience.


Passport and visas—Check ahead to make sure you have all necessary visas!
International vaccination card
Traveler's Checks
U.S. dollars—particularly new ones in small bills
Two copies of passport, passport photos, visas, and health record
Driver's license and other ID

Minding Your Health

Malaria tablets—Remember they are NOT a preventative, just a pill that will suppress the harsh symptoms of malaria, so cover up at night and sleep under your mosquito netting.
Iodine tablets—Contaminated water is your worst enemy in Africa. If you choose to not buy the very affordable spring water, you will want to treat your water with iodine.
Rehydration salts—They taste like hell but will make your body feel like a king after an inevitable surge of Montezuma's revenge, better known as traveler's diarrhea.
Chapstick—The plains are dusty and dry and without it, your lips can look like and feel like the terrain you will cross on safari.
Small first aid kit
Headache/allergy medicine—Squinting, sun, and bumpy jeep rides through the plains can all contribute to a pounding headache. It's best to come prepared.
Imodium AD or Pepto-Bismol chewables—Need we say more?
Dramamine tablets—Lots of riding on bumpy roads is involved in safari. If you are prone to motion sickness, pop a few of these BEFORE the ride.
Soft toilet paper—Unless you like chapped butt and coarse toilet paper, bring along the Charmin.

What to Wear

Wide brim hat or scarf for sun protection
Cotton long sleeved shirts—Tsetse flies, mosquitos, and other insects can be brutal in some game parks. Also, temperatures can plummet at night.
Fleece for cool evenings—It is also great as an extra pillow on planes and a butt cushion on safari drives.
Durable underwear that can be handwashed—leave the silkies at home.
Urban sandals
Shower shoes—mandatory and cheap. You would be surprised what type of foot diseases are just lurking within public-type showers.
Two bandanas or scarves
Hair bands
Light rainproof jacket

Accessories and Toiletries

A small halogen flashlight with extra batteries—Don't be caught light-less when you hear some roaring down by the watering hole, or even better, outside your tent!
Sunscreen lotion—The sun bakes throughout Africa. Even if you tan easily, take precautions.
Insect repellent—100 percent DEET will do the job for most insects, but use it sparingly. Even better, use a repellent on your clothing instead of your skin.
Small, portable mosquito netting—For a good night's sleep and malaria prevention. It also adds to the authenticity of being in the bush of Africa.
Mosquito coils—Found at most outdoor outfitter shops, these little blessings burn for about 7 hours and do a good job of keeping the mosies away.
Your brand of shampoo and soap—After a dirty, dusty day, the familiar scents of your products is worth a million.

Extras that Come in Handy

Money belt—To conceal money and passport
Swahili phrasebook or other phrasebook
Journal or diary
Ink pens
Small address book
Spare batteries for everything
Swiss Army pocket knife
Anti-bacterial gel or wipes
Portable clothes line and clothes pins
Safety pins
Masking tape—For holes in mosquito netting
Ziplock bags for everything—film, wet clothing, sand

You'll Kick Yourself for Forgetting . . .

Extra batteries
Bug spray
Water bottle—with a hip strap
Photographic Equipment
35mm camera with 300 mm zoom or better
Lens hoods/shades, lens caps
Comfortable neck strap (and spare)
Cleaning pen, solution, lens tissues
Blower brush
Extra batteries
Dust bags to cover camera on game drives
Waterproof camera bag
Film (100/200/400/800), average 3 rolls per day
Also a point and shoot 35 mm for quick action shots
Customs certification for photo gear

Bet You Never Thought . . .

A mini tape recorder—If you don't have a video camera, this could provide a great audio diary of sorts. Capture the roar of the lions, the squeeks of the zebra, snorts of the hippo, and your bargaining with the Masai. It's small, easily concealed, and nothing can quite bring you back to a moment in time like your auditory senses can.

Pens—When you are in the cities, street kids will certainly pester you for any penny you might have. Instead, offer a pen. They love them and will walk away satisfied. If not, suggest buying them a banana or some food. Security—Bring a lock for your tent or door even if it locks already. You will be in the bush away from most petty crimes, but while camping once in Tanzania, a Masai warrior came into camp and unzipped an unsuspecting woman's tent, running away with her pack. Wedding ring—If you are a single woman traveling solo, this will save you much explanation to the annoying questions:"Will you marry me?" or "Do you have a partner?" Garlic Tablets—A great, natural weapon against mosquitos. Don't worry you won't smell like garlic, it just makes your blood less desirable to the taste! A 10-meter length of nylon cord—makes an excellent clothesline. Kool Aid packets—To flavor away the taste of iodine if you are using the tablets in your water. Ear plugs—The quiet can be quite noisy.

Top Ten Ways to Die on Safari

10. Relieve yourself frequently in the bush.
9. Smuggle Serengeti animal artifacts across borders.
8. Eat raw steaks...upwind.
7. Engage in up close, dental, lion photography.
6. Use Calvin Klein's Obsession as a tsetse fly repellant.
5. Reject your mosquito netting as something that obscures the stars.
4. Eagerly display your new set of orthodontics to a silverback gorilla.
3. Use a watering hole as a wading pool.
2. Play fetch with a hyena.
1."Here rhino, rhino, rhino..."

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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