If you are planning on going on an African safari, the last thing you would want to do is spoil the trip right out of the chute by forgetting some essential things. Make yourself a list of things to do and check everything off as you go along. There are some important things to consider before you head to Africa. You will want to wear comfortable, but protective clothing on your safari. Long sleeved shirts help protect your arms from the sun, and long pants will help protect you from mosquitoes. Wearing neutral colored clothing will help you blend in with the surroundings while you are admiring the wildlife, and will help to reflect the sun, keeping you cooler.
Remember, your transportation may not allow you to carry a lot of luggage, so be conservative. You may have to travel by a small plane or boat and not be able to carry more than a few pounds worth (maybe 20 or 25). Be sure your gear and clothing is packed in something waterproofed like a duffel bag.
Most safari guide services recommend only 2 or 3 days worth of clothing be taken as there will be facilities to do laundry in most camps and lodges. If you are planning on being in any of the larger African cities with restaurants, they may require more 'dressy' attire, so take something appropriate. Here are a few items you might want to take along on your African safari: Clothing - sweater and jacket, raincoat, jeans, dress pants or skirts (if you plan on going into the city; you might even want to take a tie and some dress shoes), t-shirts, underwear, sports bra, sun protecting hats, socks, hiking shoes Miscellaneous - large handkerchief or headband, oral hygiene supplies, hair care supplies, shaving gear, sun glasses, wash rag, plastic storage bags, sunscreen and insect repellent, medications for allergies, colds and headaches, flashlight, pocket knife, camera and film (this is important - don't count on getting it there), batteries, small first aid kit, eye drops, lip balm You should plan on visiting your doctor several weeks before your trip to make sure you have the vaccinations and medications you may need.
There are some things you may be susceptible to in Africa that you want to guard against. A Yellow Fever Vaccination Card is required for entry into Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Malaria prophylactics are advisable before entering into a malaria area (particularly Kruger). Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, so take other precautions, too. Avoid Bilharzia (caused by tiny parasites) by not swimming in stagnant rivers or streams.
If you are a non-resident of Africa, you will need a passport that does not expire for at least six months after your return home. Visas which are acquired before you travel are required in Egypt, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Visas can be obtained upon arrival in Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Also, plan on getting at least the minimum amount of travel insurance. Many places outside of the African cities accept American currency as well as local currency.
Also, take travellers cheques in small denominations for incidental expenses. Many establishments in the cities also accept international credit cards. Some banks have ATM machines where you can use an international credit card to obtain local currency. You will need to ensure you have some American cash for visas, airport departures, taxes, tipping, etc. Carry small denominations like $10 - $20 USD and plenty of $1 USD for tipping. So, getting ready for your African Safari is a job in itself, but if you arrive prepared you will certainly have a much more enjoyable and hassle free trip.
By: Michael Russell