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5 Things You Can’t Leave Home Without for an African Safari

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Having grown up in a travelling family, travel is an inherent part of my life and lifestyle. It is what I save up for and spend all my waking hours thinking about – by the time I was 18 I had been to more than 40+ countries. Over the last 12 years I have been to more 14 countries in Africa alone and have even toured, studied and worked in a variety of capacities in East and Southern Africa. My first safari was in South Africa with my family and I was hooked instantly. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to study, train and work as a guide and over the years have assisted hundreds of travelers in planning, preparing for and going on trips all over the region and really love sharing my passion and favorite experiences with a variety of travelers over the years. I get asked a lot of questions about what to pack and here are my top 5 favorites items I recommend taking with you to maximize enjoyment!

1. Binoculars- An invaluable asset in looking at animals and the environment in detail from far away, especially birds. Your guide will likely have one pair in the vehicle but you will want to bring a pair so you don’t have to share with the guide and other travelers if you've spotted something rare and exciting.

2. Layered Clothing – One of the more important tips I like to reinforce with people before they travel is to be prepared for a variety of weather and climate conditions. Each destination on an itinerary can vary in climate and temperature range, so it is important to make sure you are warm enough in the early morning and evening hours. But have lighter layers underneath so as the sun rises and the day heats up from the 50s and 60s into the 70s and 80s that you are able to stay comfortable. Bring a waterproof windbreaker as well as a warm fleece or sweatshirt to go under it. Long sleeves and long pants are also highly recommend once the sun sets to help protect against insects. If travelling to Southern Africa between June and September you will want to bring a scarf, hat and gloves to help keep you warm in the chilly winter air. Africa is not always sunny and hot so be sure to be prepared!

3.Comfortable Walking Shoes- As with all travel, a comfortable pair of closed-toed walking shows are your best friend. It is best to break them in before your trip so that they fit comfortably once you are on safari. Athletic shoes are usually fine but bring shoes that you could wear in the airports, walking around town, or off the beaten trail with your guide.

4. Plenty of Cash for Tips – Most camps, lodges and reserves are located far away from ATM machines or Foreign Exchange Bureaus so you are going to want to bring plenty of cash in the form of US Dollars so that you can sufficiently tip your guides, trackers, camp staff and porters. You should plan to bring around $25 per traveler per day of your safari to cover these costs. This is standard practice these days and each camp and usually each room have a small safe for storing valuables. If you do not bring enough cash with you, you risk not being able to sufficiently tip for good service and guiding. Much like the service industry in the US – service staff depend on tips to supplement their wages.

5. DSLR Camera – If you expect to take any quality wildlife images on your African safari it is highly recommended that you invest in a camera and at least a 300-400mm lens so that you can take pictures of quick moving animals in low light and at different distances. Opportunities to capture rare and elusive animals may happen in just the blink of an eye and you want to be sure to have the right equipment to document your wildlife experiences. We do not recommend bringing just a point and shoot camera but bringing one as a backup is a good idea – just in case.

Your friendly safari expert,

Nick Bay
Meet Wildland's Africa Program Director

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