If you enjoyed watching Bear Grylls and Ranveer Singh’s Serbian adventures, you may already be looking up wildlife holidays online (preferably with fewer maggots and more amenities). A safari is not the easiest trip to pack for — whether you’re planning to go to Maasai Mara or Ranthambore, or a luxury eco-camping experience.
No two safari experiences are the same, and you may need to research quite extensively about the climate, camping guidelines and site-specific policies. Nevertheless, there are some essentials that will only make your experience smooth and help you sort an environment-friendly travel bag. Here’s a list of smart tech, protective gear and other basics that will serve you well in almost every safari experience.
Soft-sided luggage, roll-up bags and folding duffels are the most helpful, because at destinations like the Maasai Mara or the Serengeti in Africa, you have to travel site-to-site only on smaller, shuttle flights. They usually have strict weight limits and their seats are of ‘utility sizes’. So, the lighter you pack, the better. Here are some great carrier options:
Nappa Dori’s Hitchhiker is made of water-proof material and has a leather-canvas body with multiple compartments. It’s a great overnighter bag if you’re planning a one-day camping trip.
Wildcraft’s trekking rucksacks can also serve you well in the forest. They are engineered on lightweight and resilient Robic fabric and can fit everything from sleeping bags and carry mats to walking sticks. It has multiple functional attachments, like a hydration sleeve with velcro hook and loop, bungee cords for mats, rain covers, adjustable padded waist belt and shoulder pads etc.
Though most luxury camps or hotels accept digital payment or cards, you will need to carry cash (preferably a balance of big and small denominations) when you’re going for a jungle trek or a day-long safari in a game reserve. Invest in a sturdy, weather-resilient money belt like this Mokobara number which is made with water-proof vegan leather.
Durable water bottles or good hydro-flasks are almost as important as a good DSLR and travel adapters. When it comes to safari equipment or camera gear, think in terms of maximising storage, so you can be well-equipped and yet travel light. A book light is a must! And here are some other smart options:
A dynamic mid-range binocular
You won’t regret investing in a hunting binocular even if you’re not planning on harming any wildlife. Maven’s award-winning C.1 binoculars offer mid-level optics for bird-watching and general wildlife spotting. It also delivers a good low-light performance and an enhanced focus and clarity.
Bean bag tripod
Carry a bean bag tripod instead of a regular tripod, which is not just more packable, but can also be set up in seconds. LensCoat has bean bag tripods with removable mountain plates and offers stability to cameras up to 800mm.
Instead of throwing all cables in one pouch, go for a tech organiser or a tidy bag. It will save you a lot of time on any vacation, especially on a safari where you need your charger, camera, adaptors, and headphones ready for use. This Cable Tidy bag from Modern Quests has multiple compartments so you can stash your cables, Air Tags, wires and even smaller cases.
Rechargeable outdoor lantern
Coleman has LED lanterns that are modelled after vintage gas-burning lanterns and are easy to carry. You can also opt for mini lamps or hanging lamps with carabiner handles.
Dressing in layers is pretty much a thumb rule for all safaris since it lets you adjust to the shifting temperatures. Stay away from busy patterns and go-for light, quick-drying basics. Full-sleeved tees and breathable socks are also must-haves. Here are some other staples:
A utility jacket
You may need a repeatable capsule wardrobe, so pick multi-tasking numbers like utility jackets that are light and can keep you warm. Muted, earthy hues are preferable for game walks, and most luxury camps offer laundry services so you can repeat the basics.
You’ll find a number of moisture-wicking and quick-drying t-shirts on Amazon made of polyester, Gore-Tex or spandex. They are designed to move sweat to the outer layer of the garment, so they dry quicker.
Hoo-rags or tubular bandanas can be used to keep the sun off your neck and face. You can also dip them in water and tie them around your neck to keep cool.
Sturdy trail shoes
Waterproof hiking boots can be your one-stop solution for a vacation in the wild. However, you can also pack knee-high safari boots or suede ankle boots for when you’re out on a light bush walk.
Most travellers worry about hygiene supplies and tend to overpack for jungle holidays. And while some staples like insect repellents, malaria tablets, rehydration salts and travel towels are a must, here are some other things that can help:
An after-sun lotion
Besides sunscreen, also pack an after-sun lotion which is designed to re-hydrate the skin and soothe it after prolonged exposure to the sun. Kimirica’s cooling after-sun serum can soothe inflammation and heal sunburns.
A bio-degradable soap
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille soap has been a go-to pick for backpackers and adventure tourists, since it’s all-natural, bio-degradable and can be used to clean your body, clothes, dishes and hair!
Pack some seat sanitisers, urine funnels, and underarm sweat pads, irrespective of the kind of camping experience you’re planning (your camp may be located far from running water or may just need to use makeshift bathrooms on long game drives). Carmesi has a line of body-care products including panty liners, underarm wipes and bra stress relief roll-on.
Reusable plastic bags
Several wildlife camps and safari parks around the world have no-plastic policies so you may need to pack a few reusable cloth totes which are roomy and light. Brown Living has cloth-based shopping bags in various sizes that can carry upto 15 kgs.