How Safaris Work

What do I take on a safari?

This man is a bit too close to a cheetah in Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
This man is a bit too close to a cheetah in Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Art Wolfe/Getty Images

You probably already know that you'll need a passport and visa for your travels, prophylactic shots before you leave, comfortable khaki-colored clothes, and that a luggable, durable duffle bag is essential for transporting your stuff. But here are some other things you'll need for almost any kind of safari:

  • Camera equipment -- Ideally, take both a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses to capture images of wildlife and the environment, and a cheap point-and-shoot camera that you can pull from your pocket to capture the human side of the trip. For shooting animals, you want to have at least a 300mm long lens, and for birds, a minimum of 400mm is essential. Also be sure to take along spare batteries and multiple SD flash cards, since in many parts of Africa, you may have trouble getting an Internet connection to upload your photos to the cloud after you run out of space [source: Brakspear].
  • Mobile phone -- Even rural areas of Africa are rapidly becoming wired, and 3G access is becoming available as well [sources: Shiner, Killian]. Nevertheless, you should do some research to find out what degree of connectivity is available in the areas you plan to visit. If you really can't afford to be disconnected, you can rent a satellite phone these days for as little as $8 a day, plus costs of roughly $1.10 to $1.75 per minute. But be forewarned that if you use one to connect to the Internet, the data speeds are far slower than what you're accustomed to [source:].
  • Bottled water and purification tablets -- Waterborne diseases remain rampant in Africa, so be careful what you drink or use to brush your teeth. Keep a bottle with you at all times, and carry purification tablets in case you run out of bottled water.
  • Eyeglasses -- You may be a habitual contact lens wearer, but in dusty, hygiene-challenged rural Africa, you should revert back to glasses with frames. Be sure to pick ones with scratch resistant lenses.
  • Skin protection -- A hat with a brim, sunglasses and sunblock are essential if you're spending long hours in the unforgiving African sunshine. Chapstick or lip balm is a good idea, too. Mosquito repellant is absolutely essential.
  • Adapters for charging electronic devices -- Electrical service in Africa is at a higher voltage rate than in the United States, so you'll need the right adapter plug to charge your devices. You can buy a kit with the types needed for various African countries [source: Brakspear].

Are you ready to start planning your African safari trip? For more information on travel adventures and exotic animals, visit the links below.

Related Articles


  • Anderson, David. “On Safari.” Focus on Africa Publications. 2005. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Bain, Keith, etal. “Frommer’s Kenya & Tanzania.” Frommer’s. 2010. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Brakspear, Patrick. “On Safari in Africa: 101 Things to Know When You Go.” Passion for Africa Publishing. 2008. (Nov. 2, 2011)
  • Finke, Jens. “Rough Guide To Tanzania.” Rough Guides. 2002. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Fitzpatrick, Mary; Parkinson, Tom; and Ray, Nick. “East Africa.” Lonely Planet. 2006. (Nov. 2, 2011)
  • Fox,Killian. “Africa’s mobile economic revolution.” Observer. July 23, 2011. (Nov. 2, 2011)
  • Herne, Brian. “White Hunters: The Golden Age of African Safaris.” Henry Holt and Co. 1999. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Harrison, Julian. “Fodor’s African Safari, 1st Edition.” Fodor’s. 2004. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Main, Michael. “African Adventurer’s Guide to Botswana.” Struik Publishers. 2001. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • “On Safari with Theodore Roosevelt, 1909.” Eyewitness to History. 1997. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Pinchuck, Tony; McCrea, Barbara; and Reid, Donald. “Rough Guide to South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland.” Rough Guides. 2002. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • “Rentals.” (Nov. 2, 2011)
  • Richards, Dave and Richards, Val. “Safari Guide Kenya.” Globetrotter. 2002. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Renssen, Marielle. “Safari Guide South Africa.” Globetrotter. 2002. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Shiner, Cindy. “Africa: Cell Phones Could Transform North-South Cooperation.” Feb. 16, 2009. (Nov. 2, 2011)
  • Skinner, Annabel. “Tanzania & Zanzibar.” Cadogan Guides. 2005. (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • South African Airways home page. (Nov. 1, 2011)!loadCountryLanguage.action?request_locale=EN&splashLocale=EN&splashCntry=US&isCookieEnabled=true&gclid=CO6bmYmOlqwCFcx-5QodOHYINg&mpch=sem
  • “Types of African Safaris.” (Nov. 1, 2011)
  • Van Wyk, Sharon. “Safaris with soul: Big game brings big benefits to local communities.” Mail & Guardian (New Zealand). Sept. 22, 2010. (Nov. 1, 2011)