What to Pack: African Safari & Island Getaway [While Still Making the Weight Limit]

As most of you know, my husband and I went to Tanzania (East Africa) for Safari and then off to the island of Zanzibar for our Honeymoon this past June/July. Let me start by saying it was the best trip of our lives, but more about that is coming in other posts! It’s taken me awhile to even start this first post because a. it took so long for us to decompress after the trip and b. i wanted to make these guides as good as I could for you! This is the first of  many posts I plan to do about our African Safari, so stay tuned and let me know in the comments anything specific you’d like to hear about!

What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]
What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]

This post is solely about what I packed: the musts, the should-haves and the didn’t-needs. Leading up to the trip, I was pretty nervous. About the wildlife? About sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere thousands of miles from home? No, No. About the 33lbs (15kg) weight limit for luggage – inclusive of the weight of the bag, which for me was 10lbs on its own, leaving me with 23 lbs to work with. That may sound like a lot, but trust me, it adds up quicker than you can say ‘Safari Chic’! Being that we weren’t only doing safari, but also tacking on 5 days on the island, I needed various types of clothing between game drives, lounging by the fire at night, pool days, boat tours, dressed up dinners etc. And they will make you leave your things if its over the allotted weight. Luckily, each of the places we stayed offered laundry service, so I really did end up wearing everything at least twice, which is huge for weight saving. Confirm this with your lodging before you go.

Quick Trip Details
Location: Tanzania (Mainland & Zanzibar)
Travel Dates: June/July
Season: Dry Season

What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]
What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]

What to Expect: Safari/Mainland 
Depending on where you stay, you’ll typically do two game drives or one really long one per day. The mornings are chilly and it gets warmer as the day goes, aka layers are your friend. Evening game drives usually include watching the sunset accompanied by drinks and snacks. Once you settle into camp for the night, you’ll likely set up by the fire and recap your day with other guests and guides. Comfort is key.

What to Expect: Island/Zanzibar 
The mornings were actually the warmest in Zanzibar followed up by a recurring breeze starting at around 11AM each day. Dinner usually doesn’t get served until around 8PM so make sure to dress accordingly for a chill in the air.

GEAR

Large Rolling Duffel \ Most safari outfitters won’t allow you to bring a hard suitcase and require a duffel-style. I found a great option from L.L. Bean that allowed us to roll as well. Be sure to pay attention to how much the bag itself weighs because that is deducted from your allotted weight, decide whether it’s worth the extra cost for a lighter weight bag.

Camera Bag \ This is one that I spent a lot of time researching and deciding what I wanted. To get something stylish and reliable it seemed like the cost was upwards of $300, however, I found this one on sale for under $100 and I loved it! There was enough room for the camera body, two lenses, journal, extra batteries, chargers and phones.

Lenses \ Speaking of lenses, another area in which we spent a lot of time researching, but we ended up being very happy with our choices. We went with the Canon 35mm f/2 and the Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-f/6.3.

SD Card Reader for Smart Phone \ This was one of the coolest things I ended up getting to bring on the trip. I had to purchase two from amazon, before I got one that actually worked, but it was so worth it. It allowed us to instantly transfer our photos from our memory card to our phones – no wifi required. So we would use downtime in the jeep or at camp to do this and once we got to wifi, we could easily upload!

Passport Holder and Luggage Tag \ Definitely a must have for keeping documents together while going through multiple security checks.

Travel Steamer \ If you know me, you know that a travel steamer goes with me EVERYWHERE and Africa is no exception. We weren’t able to use it at a few of the camps, but when we could, I was oh so happy.

External Chargers \ We brought a few of these, but didn’t use them as much as I thought we would since we were usually on airplane mode and our guide’s jeep had an electrical outlet for our use, but still nice to have.

Travel Adapter \ We found a few nice ones that had options for USBs and allowed you to plug 3 things in at once, which is key since some of these camps don’t offer a ton of electricity opportunities.

Binoculars \ This is one I wasn’t sure we’d use, but am SO happy we ended up bringing them. There are plenty of times where animals are further away or you just want to see up even closer at all of the details of the wildlife and it’s pretty amazing.

Packing Cubes \ YES YES YES. I never realized how important these packing cubes are. Not only do they smush all of your clothes into a reasonable amount of space, but when you are moving every 2-3 days, it’s convenient to have packs for certain items so you know exactly what’s where.

What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]

On to what I wore…

TOPS

Layering Tank \ The mornings start off cool, so these are great underneath a light utility jacket and transition well for nights by the fire and days by the pool at the island.
How many? 3.

T-Shirt \ These are great for the plane or relaxing in the tent after a clean shower.
How many? 2.

Light Button Down Jacket \ Great unbuttoned over top of tanks for cool mornings and nights.
How many? 1.

Airy Blouse \ Opt for those made of light cotton or linen. Neutrals are great to keep cool and to keep the tstie flies away.
How many? 2.

Sweater \ I brought one black sweater and wore it almost every night with jeans around the campfire. It’s comfortable with daily laundry service, it was cozy and clean. Cooler temperatures kept the tstie away, so black and navy are fine later in the evening.
How many? 1.

Utility Jacket \ Heavier than the button down, but still somewhat light will be great addition in the mornings. Elevation and early rising combine to make temperatures in the low 50s. Pockets are helpful for easy access to phones, passports etc.
How many? 1.

What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]
What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]
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BOTTOMS

Comfortable Pants \ Lightweight and comfortable is exactly what you want in pants on safari, there’s a lot of sitting for the game drives, you need something that’s going to compliment that. Linen and chinos are great options.
How many? 2.

Denim \ I brought a black pair for dinners and a light blue pair for daytime around the island.
How many? 2.

Shorts \ A good pair of shorts with pockets are great for safari.
How many? 1.

DRESSES/ROMPERS

Sun Dress \ By the time you hit the island, you want out of neturals pants and a fun sun dress does the trick. Its easy for me to overpack when it comes to sundresses, let it go.
How many? 1.

Utility Dress \ A neutral dress with breathable fabric screams safari.
How many? 1.

Romper \ Weather you’re in the camp during the day or relaxing at night, a good romper/jumpsuit is a must-have. Bring one with shorts and one with pants.
How many? 2.

What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]

SHOES

Boots \ A flat pair of ankle boots is basically all I wore during the safari part of the trip. By the time I got them home, they were so broken in and comfortable. Since these are heavier, wear them on the plane to save weight in your luggage.
How many? 1.

Jellies \ I brought a pair of these and I ended up wearing them much more than I thought between the beach/pool and muddy nights at camp.
How many? 1.

Sandals \ A good comfortable pair of sandals are great for exploring around the island.
How many? 1.

ACCESSORIES


Sunglasses \ I brought a few pairs of sunglasses in case one broke along the way. The sun is so bright, this is not a place you want to be without them.
How many? 2.

Hat \ Finding a hat I loved for this trip was a difficult task. I think I ordered at least 5 from amazon before making a decision. I ended up going with Brixton one and it was PERFECT. The neck strap was key while on the game drives, we were constantly standing up in the jeep and the hat wouldn’t have stood a chance without it.
How many? 1.

Underwear \ This may seem like a no brainer, but I can’t emphasize enough to overpack when it comes to underwear. The camps don’t usually wash ladies undergarments, which I didn’t find out until we arrived. They allow you to hand wash in the sink, which I had to do several times, but because we could only hang dry in our tent, the sun couldn’t get to them and they didn’t fully before heading to the next camp.
How many? At least 1 per day.

Light Scarf \ This is a good idea for visiting any local areas where it is customary for skin to be somewhat covered.
How many? 1.

SWIM

Swimsuits \ I brought a lot of swimsuits mainly for blog purposes, but I could have gotten away with just bringing 2. It was nice to have a dry one the next morning when going to do activities while the other one dried all day. One pieces are great for water activities.
How many? 2.

Cover ups \ I tried to pack cover ups that could also serve a dual purpose such as a sun dress.
How many? 2.

What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]

What to Pack: On Safari [While Still Making the Weight Limit]

PRO TIPS:

  1. Pack everything at least two weeks before your trip, there will be things you forget and it’s nice to have more than 24 hours to get said things. Definitely helped with downsizing as well. Spend time going through your things to see what you really need.
  2. Put outfits together for each day/night and take photos to print and bring along with you. This makes life SO much easier when it comes to living out of a suitcase for weeks. You have less to think about and you can actually visualize ahead of time what you plan to wear and what you’re missing.

Again, please let me know what else you’d like to know about our trip or any questions you have!

1 Comment

  1. Georgette
    August 9, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    Great reading thank you enjoyed it very much. Can you send me by email the picture of you and Will. I would like to put that on my screensaver with all my other family pictures. When r you two going to come visit us in Florida? hugs and kisses to you both

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