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What luggage to bring for your Southern Africa Safari


In Southern Africa (Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe) many of our itineraries include this note: 

  • Baggage in charter aircraft is restricted to 20kg (44lbs) per person in a soft bagincluding camera equipment and carry-on baggage.
  • Only soft bags such as a duffle bag will be accepted - no wheels, frames or rigid structures can be transported as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft.
  • Maximum dimensions are 10in wide by 12in high and 24in long

We get more questions about luggage than almost anything else. Partly because the International weight limit is 50lbs, the domestic weight limit is 44lbs, and then some of the smaller flights have a 33lb limit. It's also because of the size and the no wheel requirement and most of our travel luggage these days has wheels.

What's an intrepid traveler to do!? Well, here are some solutions:

This is one of the lightest options. It's a bit large for the size requirements (26.5 x 10.25 x 13.5in) but if you don't pack it too tight it'll be fine. The bag itself is under 2lbs so you're not sacrificing any of the weight limit for your bag. There are carry straps on both ends and along the middle as well as the backpack straps which in themselves are removable, although it's not a quick release.

Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel M, $80

If you'll never use a backpack and prefer a duffel with a shoulder strap, this will fit the bill. It's light at a smidge, under 2lbs, dimensions are 24 x 12 x 11 so you can pack it pretty full and be within your size limit. The fabric is water-repellent and the zippers are lockable. 

Osprey Farpoint 40, $160

This bag is definitely a backpack, with padded shoulder and hip straps. There is both a small/medium and a medium/large size, which refers to the torso length for those who are taller or shorter. The M/L bag is 21 x 14 x 9 inches, so these are definitely within the size limit and since it's designed as a comfortable backpack this is a good choice if you'd like to not check a bag on your international flight. 

Note: The Osprey Porter 46 and the Osprey Ozone 46 are similar, but we prefer the way the Farpoint bag straps zip into their own compartment. It's just a matter of personal preference.

LL Bean Adventure Duffel, Medium, $60

At 23 x 11 x 11 this bag is a bit under the maximum measurements for small aircraft flights and weighs under 2lbs. It comes in a variety of colors, which makes it easy to identify your bag among the sea of black.

Some general tips:

The above prices are MSRP (Manufacturer's suggested retail price). It's common to see these bags for less.

If you would prefer to not check your luggage then consider that you'll be walking quite a distance with your carry on bag. Make sure that you like carrying a duffel or that you purchase a backpack-style that is comfortable.

Carry-on dimensions and weight limits vary by airline so if you're thinking that you would prefer to not check luggage be sure you know the requirements.

Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion are provided at most camps so you usually do not need to bring these. Check with your program director for confirmation.

Laundry can either be done by lodges or if you're at a mobile camp just ask the staff for a bucket and some soap – they're usually happy to provide it so that you can wash your own laundry. Quick-dry clothing makes washing a snap.

It is possible to bring a separate luggage cart with wheels, this is allowable by small aircrafts. However, these carts are flimsy and don't last so we really don't recommend them. 

Happy Packing!


Keeping it wild,

Rachael Garrett 

Questions? Contact our Africa program director Chris!

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