The small bag challenge: what to pack for safari

We’ve all done it. We pack, repack, unpack, roll our clothes, fold our clothes, choose other clothes and pack again, only to end up with a suitcase that doesn’t close because it’s filled to the zippers with things we don’t (but might) need.

From fashionista to couch potato the small suitcase challenge is always the same. Will it be hot, will it be smart, shall I wear brown?

To save you from showing up in your safari outfit complete with long brown socks, camo shirt and a cartoon hat, we’ve created a simple pack list for ladies and gents alike.

The Essentials

The general rule of thumb is that mornings and evenings are cool, and days are hot. Mosquitos are also more prevailent in the evenings and it’s a good idea to wear long trousers and closed shoes after dark.

Make sure that you have a pair of comfortable jeans, chinos or light cotton trousers, and a pair of shorts for the days. Depending on how long your safari is, one or two of each usually suffices.

It can get a little dirty on game drives and it’s a good idea to have enough casual t-shirts to last the number of days of your safari plus one or two spare in case you get dusty or spill your drink.

Pack one medium-thickness hoodie, sweatshirt, jumper or cardigan for the evenings and early morning game drives.

Swim wear is necessary as many of the lodges have a pool for lazing away the hot afternoons between your game drives.

A light waterproof jacket is useful, but not essential.

Dressing Up

Safari lodges range from camping and glamping to 5* luxury, but all share a common attitude of casual and comfortable.

A nice shirt or top for the evenings with a pair of jeans is smart enough, even in the fancy places. Whilst no one will frown upon you for dressing up for dinner, jackets and ties aren’t necessary and comfort always wins.

Cottons and Colours

Avoid fabrics that make a noise when you move, choosing cotton wherever possible.

Cotton is soft and comfortable, handles dust well, dries quickly when wet and aids in keeping moisture away from your skin in hot weather.

Although it is not necessary to wear browns and greens, bright colours are best kept for dinner. For your game drives, subdued or neutral colours are best.


You only need 2 pairs of shoes on a safari: one pair of closed, comfortable walking shoes, and one pair of flip flops.


One of the best side effects of going on a safari is the simple, no fuss living that it inspires.

Watches, jewelry, make up and accessories are not needed, however, a pair of good UV protective sunglasses and a sturdy sun hat are essential.

Remember that when you are on a safari you are there to enjoy the natural world. The lions don’t mind if you are dressed by Coco Chanel or Primark, and the people running your lodge are more concerned with whether or not you are seeing lions than how you are dressed.

Some safari lodges are fly-in lodges that only allow a small, soft bag weighing 10 to 15kg which is a good indication of how much you will need. Washing facilities are usually available, and comfort always wins!

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Robert Mark Safaris a luxury travel company specialising in travel throughout Africa. Through our friendly staff - who were born and raised on the African continent with lots of travel experience - we go above and beyond to redefine the way you experience real Africa. We build the trip to Africa that is perfect for you: personalised, attentive to your needs and steeped in rich, first-hand knowledge.

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