Packing Essentials

March 14, 2012  By: Gretchen

This article comes from our friends at Bush and Beyond. Keep an eye out for an upcoming newsletter with our own ‘must have’s’ from each of us here in the office, though this list is a great place to start!

I am not necessarily a fan of packing but I do have 5 things that I always take with me on safari and I thought I’d share them with you. So here are my 5 essential items to take on safari.

1. My own set of binoculars. Doesn’t matter if I am on safari by myself, with my husband or with the whole family I want my own set of binoculars. There is nothing more frustrating than having to share a pair because when your guide says “check out the leopard moving through the brush over there”, you don’t want to have to ask your husband for the binos and you definitely don’t want to miss the leopard while you are trying to readjust the focus of said binos! Can be a deal breaker in a marriage let me tell you. So buy or borrow your own pair it will be worth it.

2. Extra memory cards for my camera. Doesn’t matter that I have been going on safari a
few times a year for the past decade, I always take more photos than I can possibly imagine as there is always something new that I want to record. You don’t want to have to make the choice each night of which photos to delete on your memory card in order to have more space for tomorrow and you definitely don’t want to run out of space the minute you spot the lion cubs.

3. A headlamp not a flashlight. Nothing against flashlights but I love having my hands free as I walk to the toilet at the back of the tent in the middle of the night or when I am being escorted back to my room after a few “dawas” around the campfire. You can easily get a headlamp at any outdoor equipment store and they make great reading lights as well when my husband has decided to hit the hay earlier than me.

4. A fleece vest or jacket. Most people think of Africa and think of sweltering tropical heat and that is true in some parts of the continent but not in early mornings or late evenings in Kenya. You have to remember that Kenya is at a high altitude and straddles the equator so we often have very cool mornings and evenings. So I always dress in layers and start my morning game drive with my fleece vest on and I peel off the layers as the day warms up and put them back on as the sun sets.

5. A kikoi. Now, you might not know what a kikoi is if you haven’t been to East Africa yet but it is a fantastic woven cotton sarong that is the garment of choice on the coast. I always buy them when I am over as they come in great colours and make fantastic gifts. But I have used mine as a sarong over my swimsuit, a shawl in the evenings, a skirt when my luggage was lost, a sunshade in the land rover, a picnic blanket and as “air conditioning” by soaking the sarong and laying it across my body during my afternoon siesta. Wouldn’t leave home without one anymore and I often pack two or three!