Larry's Short Stories

My Packing List for Africa

I always take three sets of safari clothes; packing two sets in my checked luggage and one in my carry on.
I always take three sets of safari clothes; packing two sets in my checked luggage and one in my carry on.

Through the years we’ve learned, like every safari hunter does, that Africa is a big place – a continent, not a country. Actually, there are 54 different countries; we’ve hunted in only six of them – on twenty plus safaris, over the last 25 years. Weather has varied greatly from Tanzania to South Africa and from February to December. We decided that there’s no such thing as a “Packing List for Africa,” and always pack for the country and month we’re heading into.
When hunting South Africa (33 degrees south latitude) in June (our December), we wished we’d packed insulated underwear, and more layers of outer wear. In Tanzania (7 degrees south latitude) in December (our June), we slept on top of the sheets – between two wet towels, in order to fall sleep. Every safari in Africa has required a lot of research, to have the right clothing for the specific country and month of the year – even a few weeks can make a big difference.
On each safari, we’ve sat comfortably in the back of a specially-equipped Toyota Land Cruiser, driving slowly and looking for game — that we could stalk. Sometimes a light-weight, long sleeve shirt was all we needed

A typical morning start on a 2018 safari in South Africa. Notice the heavy clothing required during June in South Africa.
A typical morning start on a 2018 safari in South Africa. Notice the heavy clothing required during June in South Africa.

to be comfortable; but other times, we wore a balaclava (face mask) and multiple layers of clothing.
Everywhere we’ve been in Africa, there was daily laundry service – hand-washed and air dried in Tanzania, but machine washed and dried in South Africa. We always pack three hunting outfits — olive drab, not camo (camo seems to be reserved for the military). The third set was only necessary when changing camps or rainy days, when the sun didn’t shine. I’ve also taken an extra pair of shoes; on rare occasions they were necessary, because of rain or having to wade through water on the stalk
One of the most important things we’ve learned is to pack the first day’s clothing, shoes and binoculars in our carry on luggage, in case the checked baggage is delayed. You can always borrow a gun and ammo, but may not want to borrow underwear or someone else’s shoes. One last thought; when traveling, we try to look like tourists, not hunters – no hats, no camo shirts, jackets or backpacks, or special luggage tags. Even a tactical looking olive backpack drew unwanted attention on a recent safari in the Cameroon. Best of luck in packing for your first/next safari.

We seldom needed a second pair of shoes, but have been pleased with dry feet, on those occasions we did.
We seldom needed a second pair of shoes, but have been pleased with dry feet, on those occasions we did.
Larry's Short Stories