What to Pack for a Kenya Safari

Whether you are a first time traveller or an experienced traveller, packing for a safari can be a daunting task, let alone for an African safari. Packing for a Kenya Safari is rightly so more than a simple affair, with careful consideration required for the weather, comfort, luggage restrictions, local culture and alot more. See our Kenya Safari packing checklist below.

What to Pack

So, what is a Safari packing checklist ? Well, a safari packing checklist is basically a general guide on what to take on your safari. When packing ensure you pack minimally and use layers, as local airlines flying to various parks within the country have a typical luggage restriction of 15 kilos allowance per person (including carry-on bags). Soft sided bags or folding duffel bags are recommended.
While we list everything down below with descriptions, your packing list ought to include the following essentials: Clothing suitable for Safaris, Shoes, Hat, Sun Protection, Insect repellant, vital Medication and Cameras or Photography equipment among other items.

Not to forget Travel Documents, prior to start of your safari check for your Passport, Health cards (vaccination certificates as required), Airline tickets, Credit cards and Insurance papers. Ensure all the documents are inorder and up-to-date. Your passport must have at least 2 blank pages and six months of validity from the proposed date of exit from Kenya.

Note: Kenya aims to eliminate plastic bag usage for environmental reasons and these have been banned and their use is illegal.

Clothes

While there’s no specific safari dress code, the ideal clothes to pack for your safari are casual in nature, loose fitting and lightweight, so as to keep you cool and dry. For colours, pick neutral Pastel shades over brighter colours for optimum suitability for the wilderness. Khaki and Forest Green colours are an all time safari favourite and most recommended.
Please note that camouflaged, military~pattern clothes may be considered unlawful in East Africa as they are worn by the local forces so best to avoid. Make sure to pack a fleece, cardigan or light jacket for the cool early mornings during game drives.
When packing, keep in mind that most lodges and camps provide laundry services. Below is a basic packing list of the essential clothing items you may want to bring:
01 short sleeve casual shirt, 02 khaki long sleeve shirts, 01 Wind cheater or light jacket or Fleece jacket, 01 Safari Multi Pocket Safari Vest (especially useful for Photographers), 02 pairs khaki smart casual trousers or Chinos, 02 pairs safari shorts
03 pairs sport socks, 02 T-shirts, 01 pair Nightwear, 01 pair Swimwear, Sports bra. If staying at 5 star camps or lodges, carry along a single set of smart but basic dinner wear, useful also for nights in Nairobi city or along the coast in Mombasa.

Shoes

For most safaris which do not involve trekking or "bush walking", fully closed lightweight and comfortable walking shoes such as sneakers with good traction do just fine. However, if you actually plan on hiking, you will need a pair of hiking boots during your trip. Flip flops or sandals for around the swimming pool or in-room use are ever useful.

Hats and Sun Protection

For Sun protection we recommend you pack sunscreen lotion ( a high enough SPF) as well as a wide brim Safari hat (pictured) which will help keep the sun off your face and neck. A pair of Sunglasses and prescription glasses for those that wear contact lenses (it can be rather dusty to wear these comfortably).

Insect Repellant

Some of the lodges and camps provides insect repellent but we still encourage you to pack your own preferred brand.
Repellants containing Deet are said to be more effective against most insects and bugs. All-natural citronella repellant can also get the job done if you are concerned about the deet effects. Please consult your Doctor or Pharmacist.

Medication

Remember you will be in the "bush" so to say while on Safari and the nearest town or city may be hours away. Be sure to pack your most essential personal medications especially brands or medicines that may not be available locally in Kenya. Pharmacies in Nairobi stock a wide variety of medicines so for basic requirements such as pain relief, anti malaria pills or antacids and the like one can purchase once in Nairobi. Keep in mind to carry along any prescriptions when you bring along medication into Kenya in case you are required to show this at the airport.

Cameras, Binoculars, Travel Adaptors & Laptop

As for Cameras and Photography equipment we recommend packing those into your carry on luggage rather than check in for enhanced safety. East Africa offers amazing photo opportunities so bring along a decent camera to make the most of your trip. Binoculars are very useful and though some Safari operators provide a pair in their vehicles, these may be basic in specs so if you can bring a set you prefer. For serious photographers, you may want to carry your laptop which is so useful for downloading and processing your images after a day on Safari. Also helps you make the most of your camera storage cards as you can keep moving images to your laptop or hard disk at the end of each day. Spare AA and AAA batteries are available for sale at certain lodges in Masai Mara as well and this includes standard and rechargeable batteries. Regarding Electrical sockets, bring a couple of Travel socket adaptors. In Kenya we use the associated plug type G, which is the plug that has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. Kenya operates on a 240V supply voltage and 50Hz.

Other stuff

Other important items that you must include in your packing list includes personal toiletries (such as travel size shampoo, conditioner,soap, deodorant, moisturizer, hair brush, tooothpaste and toothbrush), sanitary products for ladies, wet wipes and hand sanitizers, small sewing kit, small scissors and pocket knife (not in carry on bag) alarm clock, money pouch or money belt, reading materials, pen and a notebook.

Pro & Cons of Flying to your Safari Destination while on a Kenyan Safari

As we mentioned above local airlines flying to various tourists destination and game parks have a luggage limitation of 15 kilos per passengers, combined for check in and carry on, we often get asked if driving down would be a viable option as some tourists such as photographers have camera equipment that weighs more than the 15 kilos. So the main advantage of flying to any safari destination is that it is quick and comfortable as you can get to your destination in an hour compared to a 5 or 6 hour drive.
Keep in mind that the planes are small light aircraft, designed for use on the bush airstrips. Some planes may have upto 38 seats, but most have 4-16 seaters with your pilot sitting with you, typically the dependable Cessna planes.

The disadvantage of flying is obviously the higher costs especially if you are more than 2 or 3 people in a group. The baggage limit is also a limitation.