A Ugandan safari is the trip of a lifetime. As you plan your trip and to enjoy it to the fullest, we put together the ultimate safari packing list and guide you don’t forget a thing.
The basic things to keep in mind when making your ultimate safari packing list are weight and activities to be done.
Packing light is important. Always give preference to a light, soft duffle bag. When compared to a hard-shell suitcase. Wheeling a suitcase is not advised, and you will find it much better to use your soft-sided bag. A bag without a frame (and without wheels) fits better into vans, trucks, and small airplanes. For your daypack, we recommend a backpack that’s water resistant and has a laptop compartment keeps important things safe. And it has an additional rain cover – perfect for your gorilla trek.
Basing on what you’re to do, temperatures change throughout the day dramatically. You may start out with a chilly pre-dawn drive, and then find yourself sweating on the afternoon walk. If trekking for gorillas, you’ll want some rain gear. If you’ll be climbing Mount Rwenzori, you will need to bring cold weather clothes to combat the frozen temperatures at the top. Going on a safari for elephants and antelope will require sun protection gear.
In this section, we’ll consider the following when packing.
Clothing for a Safari
Being a casual event, a safari doesn’t need to overdress. Unless you plan on hitting up the nightlife in Kampala, leave your fancy clothes off your safari packing list!
Light, loose clothing is recommended for safari wear. You will stay comfortable in the sun and dry out quickly in the occasional rainstorm. However, don’t forget about the early morning cool down. You will want some pants and a long sleeve top to keep you snug. Although nights around camp include a fire, you may still need some extra layers. The important thing is to be honest with yourself. You will definitely want to cover up when the mosquitoes are at the worst during dusk and dawn. Technically, the lighter the suitcase the better, but you also need to balance weight with comfort. Don’t forget, many lodges have blankets to pass out in the cold evening.
The color of your clothing is another extremely important factor of your safari packing list. Neutral shades are a must. You want anything that will camouflage you: shades of green, brown, olive, khaki, and beige are all acceptable and even encouraged!
Don’t bring bright colored clothing. These are only good for scaring the animals and angering your fellow companions. Remember, this is the trip of a lifetime. Even if this is your 100th safari, be respectful of others.
Don’t bring clothes that are dark blue or black. The two colors attract tsetse flies like no other, and these biting insects will make you miserable during a long safari day. These insects can bite right through your clothing, even jeans – which they are undeniably attracted to. Not even the most potent insect repellant will keep them away. Tsetse flies are also dangerous, as they can transmit African sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis).
Clothing Packing List:
- 1 Swimsuit since most lodges and camps have a pool
- 1 Lightweight fleece or jacket for late nights and early mornings
- 1 Scarf to protect your face from blowing debris. Sports bra (2); for the ladies
- 1 Money belt is always a great idea when traveling
- PJ’s: You’ll want to be comfortable so you can get a good nights sleep.
- 2 Zip-off pants: Convertible pants save space and are super convenient. Start the cool morning with full pants and as the day warms up, remove the zip-off legs.
- 2 Long sleeve shirts which can be are great for cooler mornings and hot days. These will also protect you from sunburn and insects!
- 4 Short sleeved shirts are great for layering. Choose a breathable fabric to keep cool and dry.
- 4 pairs of Socks with some moisture wicking fabric to keep your feet dry and cool.
- 4 Underwear for outdoor activities.
- Sandals: Flip flops or close-toed sports sandals to wear around camp at night
On the plane, wear one pair of safari attire. This will save room in your luggage, and you can wash it later.
The best footwear to bring depends on what kind of safari you are taking.
If you are going to be mostly participating in walking safaris, hiking boots would be perfect for this type of situation to prioritize comfort and stability.
Driving Safaris call for closed-toed sports sandals and hiking shoes. A pair of sandals may not be such a bad idea for walking around bush camp.
A safari means you will be spending a significant amount of time outside. This requires good protection from a more intense sun than most of you are used to. No matter walking or riding in a vehicle, you’ll need a quality pair of polarized Sun glasses, Safari sun hat to protect your face, neck, and ears. Additionally, look for a head covering that has a neck strap so it doesn’t fly off and Sunblock since most of you aren’t used to being so close to the equator.
When making out your safari packing list, aim for one bottle, per person, per week. Some popular insect repellents include: Picaridin, OLE and PMD.
To enjoy a safari and keeping memorable moments, you’ll need one or two devices. Some of these include;
Binoculars so that you don’t miss out on some amazing views.
Camera: A basic point-and-shoot will do the trick. Make sure you carry your camera in a case, because a safari is not exactly a clean adventure! Don’t forget your spare memory card!
Batteries: If you are using a camera, be sure to add extra batteries to your safari packing list.
Cell phone: Mobile phones take better photos. This goes double if you don’t have a tablet or a designated separate camera. There are even monoculars you can purchase to increase your phone’s natural zoom. These can turn your cell phone into a powerful zoom camera.
Chargers. Most of the technology that’s useful on a safari requires charging. Instead of bringing an electrical adaptor, consider a solar charger. This is not only more environmentally friendly, but you will be able to charge multiple devices from the same platform at the same time!
Tablet: Basically anything you can use to read, play games, and otherwise entertain yourself in any downtime. Usually print books are a go-to, but they might weigh too much for your safari packing list.
The fact that most safaris are outdoor adventures, you’ll need the following to be on a safe side:
Yellow Fever Health Card: yellow fever vaccination is only required for entering Uganda if you are traveling from a country with risk of YFV transmission.
First aid kit: Out in the African bush, the nearest town could be hours or even days away. That means catching a cold could turn into a miserable experience. That is why it’s important to pack some cough drops, Sudafed, diarrhea medication, aspirin, Dramamine, and allergy medication. Avoid bringing a real first aid kit, as most lodges and guides have their own. Simply think about what you may need if you start feeling sick.
Prescriptions: Before you get on the plane, make sure you have all of your necessary prescriptions. You may even want to ask the doctor for Cipro. This medication will help in times of intense stomach pain. Everyone’s body reacts differently when exposed to different microbes, and you won’t want to stay behind due to a sick stomach. Furthermore, check with your tour company to see if malaria medication should be on your list.
Hand sanitizer: Why not protect yourself as much as humanly possible? Getting sick on vacation sucks, but getting sick on a safari could be disastrous. There are times when clean water for hand washing will not be available.
Sleep aids– A good night’s sleep is important to fully enjoy your time on the safari. Lack of sleep can lead to a bad attitude and eye fatigue. If you know you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep in new places, bring what you need. This could be melatonin, Z-Quil, Ambien, or anything else that’s a legal sleep aid. Also, bring earplugs. Hippos like to snore quite loudly!
Whenever possible, use travel sized containers to save on weight and room.
- Shampoo / Conditioner (or all-in-1)
- Toothbrush / Toothpaste
- Sanitary products
- Contact solution
Other Items to Consider
Cash (in local currency): There are no ATM’s in the bush, but there are things to buy with cash. Furthermore, most places in the backcountry do not have credit card scanners. You will also need cash to tip the guides after your awesome safari!
Waterproof bag: Light and compact, a waterproof bag can come in handy when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Even if you have dustproof and waterproof equipment, the rain will turn any dust into mud. A waterproof bag allows you to stick your stuff inside for the duration of the moisture!
Headlamp: Most camps out in the savannah won’t have electricity, but will run on a generator. That means there is a lights out time. For walking around or doing your business late at night, you will want a headlamp or a small flashlight. However, we recommend a headlamp over a flashlight because of the hands-free ability.
Water bottle: Some camps provide water bottles. However, make sure ahead of time. If you bring your own, you can use it in the airports!