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Indagare Guide: How to Pack for Safari

"Going on safari" conjures up so many wonderful images—including many that are dashing (Ernest Hemingway in the big-game days), or fashionable (a thousand Ralph Lauren ads), or a mix of both! But though it might seem daunting at first, packing for safari these days need not be complicated. Most of us already have great travel clothes, sports clothes and casual clothes, so it's more about whittling down than stocking up. With the aim of helping you to not overthink it, Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley and members of the team share the ultimate packing list and tips for a trip into the bush—with favorite brands and secret weapons to keep you comfortable, safe and safari-chic at all times.


Your Luggage

If we had to give just one piece of advice: Pack light. You can do this because most days are the same: Morning game drive, rest and lunch, afternoon or evening game drive, and dinner, so you don't need a big variety of clothing—and most camps offer daily laundry service, so you can easily rewear items throughout the trip. Rewearing clothes means you can travel much, much lighter than you might at first think.

☐ Most safaris involve flights on small bush planes that have strict size and weight limitations. Stick with a weather-resistant, soft-sided duffel bag no larger than 11.8 inches wide x 13.8 inches high x 27.5 inches long, with a max weight of 44 pounds per person, including carry-on luggage and camera equipment.

☐ You will also want some sort of durable daypack to bring with you in the vehicle on game drives (this can be a backpack or tote, but it should be element-resistant and you should be able to securely close it up; pockets are also helpful).

☐ You may also wish to bring a belt bag for easy access to your most important items, and you should keep your travel documents and cash, toiletries, phone and camera equipment on you at all times when traveling (don't check these items as bags may need to be stuffed under seats or in small holds).

  • An Indagare member-favorite brand is MZ Wallace, whose quilted design and preference for pockets and zippers are helpful for keeping your things organized and protected on the road—plus, they go with everything. The belt bags and sling bags are especially handy.
  • The Dagne Dover neoprene sling bags can be easily packed (thanks to their soft, crushable material).

☐ Packing cubes are also a great way to keep everything organized within your duffel.

  • Says Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley: "Paravel has launched new and improved packing cubes, including ones that compress with a second zipper. I never leave home without these. I also love their vanity cases, which can be customized and are great for the plane, as well as their foldable backpack in green, made of recycled bottles, which I use on game drives." Shop here.

Clothing & Accessories

Safari outfits and khaki colors may seem cliché but they are practical; they don’t show dirt, don’t stand out in the bush and keep you cool and protected from the sun.

One of Melissa's favorite all-around brands for many of the below items is Anatomie. For your staple base layers (pants and shirts), J.Crew, Banana Republic, GAP and Old Navy are also a great place to start.

☐ Three pairs of long pants. Khakis, hiking or athletic-style pants work well (or you may want to include a pair of good jeans for dinners). Pants should be comfortable to sit in, and ideally don’t show dirt or wrinkle and have SPF or bug protection—but any khakis or cargo pants will do; some people may also prefer pants that zip off into shorts. (Note: Do not wear camouflage print, as they are only to be worn by the army in many African countries.)

  • "I'm obsessed with these Banana Republic cargo pants." — Trip Designer Paige Gordon
  • "I love these pants from Outdoor Voices—so comfy and nice to have versatility, based on the weather." — Trip Designer Caroline Hansen
  • "These Athleta pants are weather-resistant and available in tall and short cuts." — VP of Sales Elise Bronzo

☐ One or two pairs of shorts for higher temperatures mid-day (or something lighter to change into post-game drive, if you do not like wearing shorts). Oversized, paper-bag style shorts with a belted waist are comfortable and stylish.

  • "One of the women who worked at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya had these linen overalls on in green, and we all loved them. They are made to order." — Associate Producer Claire Gelalich

☐ Three long-sleeve shirts, such as linen or cotton button-downs.

  • "I opt for classic, lightweight linen button-downs from places like J. Crew, GAP, Banana Republic. I also like Frank & Eileen for their linen shirts and oxfords (like this denim model)." — Senior Director of African Safari Rose Taylor
  • VP of Sales Elise Bronzo also recommends Xirena for linen shirts (and they have pretty shirt dresses for dinners, too).
  • "I like AYR for shirts." — Kathryn Nathanson, Senior Director & Executive Producer
  • Associate Producer Claire Gelalich recommends Everlane for shirts.

☐ A mix of t-shirts (two or three) and sleeveless shirts or tank tops (one or two) for layering and warmer temperatures mid-day.

☐ One or two of the following: a rain jacket, fleece, light sweater or safari jacket. Safari jackets are always a great outer layer and a must-bring for most travelers (especially ones with multiple pockets). A photographer’s or fishing vest is also a great option—and a nice cashmere sweater or sweatshirt works well for your travel days as well as cool mornings or evenings.

  • "I love this Anine Bing army jacket." — Senior Director of African Safari Rose Taylor
  • For a men's safari jacket: AG Jeans
  • "The boutique at Segera in Kenya curates some of the most stylish safari-wear out there. I bought my safari jacket there, from a Lamu-inspired brand called Amu. Sadly you can't shop them online—but if you're not finding a safari jacket you love at home, you might just find your perfect fit on the ground." — Senior Editor Elizabeth Harvey
  • Another high-end safari jacket brand beloved by Indagare members is Anna Trzebinski.
  • "I like this light Callidae raincoat for the wet season in the bush." — Senior Director & Executive Producer Kathryn Nathanson

☐ Five pairs of socks and undergarments. We recommend thermal options for winter.

☐ Comfortable walking shoes. Either more fashionable sneakers or hiking shoes work well, just make sure you have thick, tough soles (for thorns). If you are planning on staying at a lodge that offers hiking, make sure your shoes have strong enough traction and mobility.

  • Blundstone is an Indagare-favorite brand.
  • "My go-to for safari footwear is the Aigle iconic walking shoe. They have some great colors too, like green and burnt orange." — Senior Director of African Safari Rose Taylor
  • "R.M. Williams is the original Australian outfitter of “stockmen” or cowboys, and they sell lots of chic but utility-focused leather boots (and they have a guarantee where you can send them back to be resoled after wearing them in). Their clothing and accessories are good, too." — Senior Editor Elizabeth Harvey
  • "Freda Salvador weather resistant boots. If you need something sturdier, Hokas." — VP of Sales Elise Bronzo
  • "My On Cloudrock 2 Waterproof Hiking Boots are perfection." — Senior Editor Elizabeth Harvey
  • "Thursday Boot Company has good affordable boot options (since they can get muddy etc., and you don't want to spend too much on a safari boot but still want to look good out there." — Senior Director & Executive Producer Kathryn Nathanson

☐ One pair of slide-ons, espadrilles or sandals for wearing around the lodge. You may wish to bring a pair of flip-flops for the pool and a lighter shoe that can work with dinner outfits.

  • "A super stylish lady on our Tunisia trip turned me on to these Bill Blass suede sneakers with a cushioned platform. They come in many colors and are made with a biodegradable outsole. They run a half-size big." — Melissa Biggs Bradley
  • Rag & Bone, Loewe and Veja all carry light, day-to-night sneakers.
  • Sabah, Soludos and Rothy's are also great options.

☐ Safari-style hat with a wide brim to protect your face and neck from the sun; bonus points for a drawstring that helps keep it on your head in an open-top vehicle. You should also pack a baseball cap—and bring a hat clip for carrying it all!

☐ Comfortable pajamas. Bring a lighter pair for summer.

☐ Bathing suit and sarong or cover-up.

☐ It’s nice to have one or two more fashionable options to change into for evening dinners or mid-day relaxing. A printed tunic paired with pants or a flowy skirt or dress are easy to pack. Men may wish to bring a nicer button-down and khakis.

  • "The Australian brand Alémais is one of my personal favorites for wear-everywhere dresses and matching sets. When you opt for prints and bright colors, you have an eye-popping outfit with fairly low effort—and since most of their pieces are linen, they're light and easy to pack, and also easier to wash on the go." — Senior Editor Elizabeth Harvey

☐ Leave valuable jewelry at home, but you may wish to bring a few light, inexpensive accessories like a printed scarf, a chunky bangle or statement earrings for a bit of fun and variety. Most Indagare-recommended lodges also have great boutiques.

  • "For less-expensive, safari-chic accessories, I love this Kenya-based brand Soko. This female-founded company connects Kenyan artisans with the global marketplace, and pieces generally are made from upcycled materials—so when you're shopping, you're shopping for good! Plus, their gold-plated brass pieces are durable enough for safari (and don’t bring anything you can’t bear to have caught getting in and out of a vehicle or heli, or left behind in a lodge, or lost on an adventure activity)." — Senior Editor Elizabeth Harvey
  • "For a belt bag that transitions to evening bag, I love the Clare V. Grande Fanny. You can't fit a water bottle (which is a considerable fault), but it’s a great crossbody for carrying your phone, passport, cash, sunglasses and chapstick. The textures and colors are lovely, and it’s female-founded. And you can swap out the strap for an evening look (they have fun options on their site)." — VP of Sales Elise Bronzo
  • A bright strap is also a great way to bring a bit of color to your binos on game drives—like these ones from Elie Beaumont.
  • "Having a strap case for your phone is also awesome in the safari vehicle." — Trip Designer Isabel Graubart
  • "This ExOfficio BugsAway Woven Bandana is bug repellant—a cute and effective accessory." — VP of Sales Elise Bronzo
  • "I love a beaded belt to pull it all together." — VP of Sales Elise Bronzo

☐ One or two sets of sports clothes if you plan on exercising (and if the camps have facilities—yoga is a nice way to stretch after game drives).

What to Bring in Your Daypack & Other Items

☐ In your daypack: Travel-sized sunscreen and lip balm with SPF.

  • "The Supergoop! Bestsellers Starter Kit and Mineral Sunscreen Stick are always in my carry-on. The creams from Supergoop! are reef-safe and skin-friendly, and the Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 is compact and sweat- and water-resistant—just throw it in your pack and reapply throughout the day. — Melissa Biggs Bradley

☐ In your daypack: Wet wipes and/or deodorant wipes. Indagare-recommended lodges will keep tissues, wipes and hand sanitizer in the game drive vehicle, but you may wish to carry your own.

  • "I discovered these amazing deodorant wipes when packing for Kenya and they're now my secret weapon—for safari or otherwise. They're individually packaged, so you can easily slip one into your daypack for a quick refresh on the go, and they're really effective—and they're organic and use sustainable materials." — Senior Editor Elizabeth Harvey

☐ In your daypack: Mosquito repellent (DEET-based repellents are recommended, medium or maximum strength)

☐ In your daypack: Sunglasses, ideally UV-protected and polarized

☐ In your daypack: Eye drops if you’re sensitive to dust

☐ In your daypack: Ear plugs if you’re sensitive to noise

☐ In your daypack: Digital camera with a zoom lens (a 100-400mm range is ideal) and carrying case (you should also bring charging equipment with extra batteries or a spare charger and multiple memory cards!). Some lodges do rent camera equipment and so do companies in the U.S., if you don’t own a zoom lens.

☐ In your daypack: Binoculars (8x40 or 10x42), although some camps will provide binoculars, and most guides will share with guests

☐ In your daypack: Layers for warmth, as necessary. For winter months, you should also bring a warm hat, scarf and gloves.

☐ Power adapter: Most camps will have US, UK and/or European outlets and many now have USB outlets, but we still recommend bringing along a universal adapter just in case.

☐ External battery or power bank for charging electronics on-the-go.

  • "I love this power bank by Anker. It's lightweight and powerful! So nice not to have to worry about your phone dying." — Senior Director of African Safari Rose Taylor

☐ A personal "mini pharmacy" (see more below). See your doctor before you leave for advice on what to bring, but, in addition to a sufficient supply of your regular prescriptions, it's generally recommended to bring: prescription malaria medicine, Cipro (or similar all-purpose antibiotic), Imodium/anti-diarrheals, antihistamines (Benadryl cream and pills), Neosporin, Band-Aids, Ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismal (chewable for kids and pills for adults) and cold/flu medicine. At Indagare-recommended lodges you will not go hungry—and most lodges keep their game drive vehicles stocked with delicious snacks—but you may also wish to bring a few granola bars or hydration packets in case.

  • "To keep healthy while traveling, I swear by a number of powdered supplements, and electrolytes are a must for the plane. Cure is a woman-owned brand whose powders are plant-based and come in great flavors (Shop here), and Athletic Greens (Shop here) and Zicam meltables (Shop here) provide essential vitamins and nutrients." — Melissa Biggs Bradley

☐ An extra pair of correction glasses and, for glasses-wearers, spare glasses, contact lens solution and contact lenses.

  • "I always pack a spare pair of sunglasses and spare reading glasses, but a traveler on our Sicily trip introduced me to Thin Optics, which are paper-thin and perfect for traveling." — Melissa Biggs Bradley

☐ Small bills for tipping and shopping throughout your trip. US dollars are generally accepted. Consult Indagare's tipping guidelines for the correct amounts based on your destination, but approximately $40 per person, per day (for lodge staff and guides) is sufficient—plus extra for shopping.

☐ Travel-sized laundry detergent or a bar of all-purpose soap (like castile) in case you need to quickly wash items like undergarments.

☐ A journal and/or safari-related books for reflecting in the afternoons between game drives. For children, lodges will also stock board games, cards and other entertainments like bird-watching kits.



Layer up.

Early morning and evening game drives can be cool, even in the hotter summer months, so you'll want to layer well. A fleece, a vest, a heavy scarf—basic items that can go on or come off easily—will pay off in keeping you comfortable.

You can still show personal style.

Outdoor adventure lovers might choose zip-off hiking pants, hiking shoes and a breathable shirt as their base look. Fashion lovers might prefer trendy cargo pants, a linen button-down and the latest fashionable sneaker. Sporty types might be in leggings, running shoes and a baseball cap. All approaches work.

You don’t always have to dress in plant-like colors.

On bush walks or walking safaris, it's good to wear neutral and earthy tones (khaki, tan, brown, olive and green) so you don’t scare animals away with bright colors. But on game drives, this matters less. It’s best to avoid white, which looks too bright against the bush, but it's okay to mix in some yellow, blue, pink, etc., if you like. Avoid blue and black in East Africa, as these shades attract tsetse flies, and on walking safaris, when it’s important to blend in. Avoid camouflage clothing, as it's illegal in some countries.

What to know about the weather:

The summer months are September through April; winter is May through August. Prepare for higher temperatures in the summer, but still plan on needing some layers. In the winter, bring a warm hat, gloves and scarf as morning and evening game drives can get very cold. Mosquitos are the worst between December and March.

Bring a mini pharmacy.

Load up at your local drugstore before you go. Most safari camps are very remote without easy access to a pharmacy. Pack any medicine you think you might need, which may include: antihistamines, anti-diarrheal medications and Dramamine, cold and flu aids, antibiotics and prescription malaria medicine. Bring an extra pair of glasses, extra contact lens and contact solution.

What NOT to bring:

  • Indagare-recommended camps will provide waterproof ponchos in case of rain.
  • Indagare-recommended camps will also provide reusable water bottles and filtered water for the duration of your stay.
  • Camps should provide basic toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion and mosquito repellent. Bring your own lip balm and sunscreen, as availability varies.
  • Many camps and guides allow guests to use their binoculars, but if it’s important to you, bring your own to be certain.

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a safari. Our team can provide expert travel advice and assist with custom itinerary planning, lodge recommendations and more.

Plus: Discover exclusive packing edits for safari, beach and beyond from our partner Mytheresa—so you can arrive prepared and in style. We are also delighted to offer complimentary access to Mytheresa's VIP Personal Shopping Program. Email to get started.

All products featured are independently selected by Indagare. However, if you purchase something through the above links, Indagare may earn an affiliate commission.

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