The Smart Traveler's Safari Packing Guide

I see packing for a Kenyan safari as a fun challenge. There's something innately satisfying of everything fitting just right

Small charter planes are the fastest and easiest way to get to many of the parks, but most have weight limits of just 15kg/33 pounds! Time for us travelers to get creative.

Without listing the basics (travel-sized toiletries [don’t forget hand sanitizer!]) here’s how to pack the perfect piece of luggage for a memorable safari.

(Pro Tip: I intentionally under-pack a bit, since most lodges have laundry services. Less is more while on safari.)

  • Hiking shoes. Especially if you plan to do any walking safaris (and you should!) hiking shoes will be helpful. The savannah can be dusty, rock-strewn, or muddy.

  • Sandals. I prefer to bring something that I can dress up or down, since many of the lodges exemplify rustic-chic. Plus, it feels oh-so-good to kick off your heavy hiking boots and walk around in comfortable sandals.

  • 2 pairs of convertible hiking pants. Mornings are chilly and days are warm, so it's nice to have the option to tear off the legs of your pants when the sun kisses the plains and temperatures rise.

  • 3 short-sleeve tshirts in neutral colors (bright colors attract the unwanted attention of wildlife, and the idea is to be as discreet as possible)

  • 2 long-sleeved shirts. Chilly temperatures aside, the equator slices right through Kenya, so the sun's rays are intense.

  • A fleece jacket or pullover for chilly mornings and evenings

  • 3 pairs of socks/4 pairs of underwear

  • Pair of cotton chinos and a sweater or nice shirt for a nicer evening

  • Waterproof winderbreaker/rain pants (during the rainy season in April/May)

  • International electricity adapter

  • Portable electronics charger

  • Waterproof bag (gallon ziplock works well) to protect from rain and dust

  • A powerful pair of binoculars. Your safari experience will be taken to the next level when you can see things in a crystal-clear perspective!

  • Travel telescope. Whenever I travel to remote destinations, my telescope comes with me. I like my Celestron 21035 70mm travel telescope because it’s lightweight, fairly powerful, and packs nicely in my travel backpack.

  • Camera. Again, be cognizant of packing restrictions, but I always recommend carrying cameras with you in a carry-on anyway. If you have a nicer camera, you’ll of course want to bring your favorite lenses, which unfortunately adds weight and bulk to your packing -- but this is something I think is worth the sacrifice, don’t you?

  • A small, lightweight daypack. You'll take this with you when you're out for your daily safaris, hikes, or nature walks. Bring the essentials for the day, but leave the rest in your lodge.

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