I compiled what to bring a checklist from my recent safari trip to Kenya which I managed to use about 75% of the items which I brought. Luckily, I did notice that the clothing items were sufficient and I also accounted for getting laundry done at the bush camp. I have updated some additional suggestions on what to bring and feel free to comment on my suggestions.
What to wear?
Well, you read a lot of the other sites and they tell you that you can’t wear black or blue or some neutral colors. I would say that everyone pretty much wears whatever they already own.
Note that unless you are on some sort of walking safari, you are pretty much stuck inside your vehicle 90% of the time which means the animals are not going to care what you wear or get startled by the color of your clothing. Note that the sound of your 4×4 engine would already let the animal know you are coming for them.
My Maasai local guide wore super red and bright clothing. However, camouflage clothing is reserved for security or military. Please do not wear anything camouflage as it’s not recommended.
What clothing is recommended?
Since I went during the winter month of August, I would recommend wearing layers as it’s really cold around 50F to 60F (10C-15C) in the morning at 5 am and will cool off by 7 pm. During the day, it could warm up to about high 70F (21C) or low 80s (26C) by mid-day.
I wore pretty much Columbia Clothing not because I wanted to wear the Columbia clothing but because they are comfortable.
Don’t forget that at the end of the day, you will be covered with a very thick layer of dust. So you will need clothing to protect yourself.
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The entire time we were there, it rained during the night and the rain jacket came in handy. These rain jacket were light weight and also space friendly inside my bag.
- Columbia Women’s Sunrise Ridge Jacket – https://amzn.to/3PHlBfk
- Columbia Women’s EvaPOURation Jacket – https://amzn.to/3F0RECe
- Columbia Women’s Switchback Iii Jacket – https://amzn.to/3tdzDOz
- Columbia Women’s Arcadia Ii Jacket – https://amzn.to/45duxPq
- Columbia Women’s Splash a Little Ii Jacket – https://amzn.to/3F0S0sy
Yes, it is cold during the early morning between 5-7am and starting at 7 pm till the wee hour of the night. I would recommend wearing layers as some people wore a fleece or down feather jacket. The wind from driving around in the morning is very cold and you will need something to stop the wind from entering the nice and warm body.
- Columbia Women’s Benton Springs Ii Long Hoodie – https://amzn.to/3RIrxrh
- Columbia Women’s Benton Springs Printed Full Zip – https://amzn.to/3RHW7S2
- Columbia Women’s Benton Springs Vest – https://amzn.to/3tlyV1r
- Columbia Women’s Glacial Iv 1/2 Zip – https://amzn.to/45cU0sm
- Columbia Women’s W Sweater Weather Full Zip – https://amzn.to/45bJ5iI
I love the long sleeve shirt from Columbia which can also roll up to a short sleeve. It also has some sort of Sun UV Prevention layer to it. Note that during the morning it can be cold and in the afternoon, it can be sunny with a lot of sun burning on your skin. So a good long sleeve shirt will help you from having a sunburn.
- Columbia Women’s Super Tidal Tee Hoodie – https://amzn.to/3tdbkjM
- Columbia Women’s Sun Deflector Summerdry Long Sleeve Shirt – https://amzn.to/3rykLcS
- Columbia Women’s Summerdry Long Sleeve Printed Tee- https://amzn.to/3EXr7Wm
- Columbia Women’s Tidal Deflector Ice Ls Hoodie – https://amzn.to/46dQlM9
- Columbia Women’s Cool Release Airgill Long Sleeve – https://amzn.to/467Qroy
I would recommend their zippered long pants as they are light and airy which helps with the ventilation. Not only that when it gets too hot, but you can also unzip them to let more air in. I also like pants with a lot of pockets as you will be sitting in the vehicle all day.
I love Columbia waterproof hiking shoes as there are occasional mud or puddles of water which we need to walk over. Again, you will be in the vehicle most of the time, so I would recommend what you already own. However, there are occasional puddles of water around and it would be nice to have some waterproof shoes. I do have wide feet and I do prefer Merrell over Columbia shoes.
- Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Waterproof Walking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3PYgIjo
- Merrell Women’s Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3PYgKI2
- Merrell Women’s Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3PYIBrz
- Columbia Women’s Trailstorm Waterproof Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3RHWR9M
- Columbia Women’s Redmond Iii Waterproof Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3tivWaf
- Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3LJFx07
- Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3EXHYIu
- Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot – https://amzn.to/3LIXICZ
- Columbia Men’s Crestwood Waterproof Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3ZAlU0l
- Columbia Men’s Plateau Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/3ZC4iRI
- Columbia Men’s Redmond Iii Waterproof Hiking Shoe – https://amzn.to/469BcLO
Yes, it’s a must-have item and it’s very compact and can be easily stored in your luggage. Why need it? You will need like when you go to the bathroom or take your shower. Some people don’t even wear shoe at all since we are inside the 4×4 most of the time and it’s easier to climb on the seats and not get it dirty.
- Columbia Women’s Sun Trek Flip Sport Sandal – https://amzn.to/46okKHo
- Columbia Men’s Sun Trek Flip Sport Sandal – https://amzn.to/46hSbvx
That’s me down below…
Cap or Hat
Wearing a hat or cap is highly recommended as the sun can get very hot during the day and a lot of the time you might be under the same spot waiting for the animal to show up or perform. If you are sensitive to the sun, I would recommend getting the cap that comes with a sunshade for your neck.
- Columbia Bora Booney – https://amzn.to/3tkZBPU
Why cover the face?
Firstly to protect the face from sunburn as the sun can get darn hot during the day. Next, it will help filter all the dust just from driving around and you won’t regret it.
The hot topic of the day… It’s the extremely annoying Tsetse flies. They can be seen flying all over your face during the day especially when it’s hot. You can see them swarming all over the wild animals and you are 100% sure to be the next target.
In my experience, they seemed to like a certain type of body or sunscreen lotion. I read on the other sites about blue and dark colors but I didn’t encounter that experience in Kenya.
However, one thing that worked was the face mask similar to below from Columbia or Coastal Water Supply or get the ICOLOR cap with the mask above.
- Columbia unisex-adult Terminal Tackle™ Neck Gaiter Ii – https://amzn.to/46iZFi4
Or if you don’t fancy the mask, you could try the DEET which I used and I think it works but I still do have flies on me occasionally. I used Ben’s 30% DEET product but I am a little concerned about the toxicity. Anything less than 30% would not work in Africa.
The flies are different and when you try to swap it, it would just fly around and keep coming back. Our regular house flies are very tame in comparison to the African flies. What about the non-toxic ones, well a lot of people tried them and said you are just wasting your money on it.
Yes, you would laugh about it and that it’s so 80s. However, it has helped me on so many occasions that I would actually recommend it. You get to put stuff like your cell phone or camera batteries or camera memory cards or miscellaneous items that you don’t want to get lost. The father and son whom we were traveling with kept losing their cell phone as it was lodged in between their seats and they couldn’t find it.
Since we are on safari, I had to pack light meaning, one checked-in duffel bag and one carry-on bag for my camera gears.
It’s an Eddie Bauer soft duffel bag with rollers at the bag. I bought them about 10 years ago and I am going to recommend something similar. The reason for the duffel bag is that the Safarilink flight has some limitations on what can go in the cargo space and a hard suitcase limits the amount of space it can squeeze in.
- Eagle Creek No Matter What Rolling Duffel Bag L – https://amzn.to/3rywMiE
- Eddie Bauer Expedition Duffel Bag 2.0 – Made From Rugged Polycarbonate and Nylon – https://amzn.to/46xj66d
What did other brings? It’s a mix of hard and soft cases depending on what they brought since a lot of the guests are photographers so most of them brought their hard suitcases.
As part of the photography tour, I had to shop around for a bag that could hold my camera gear, and at the same time, it didn’t scream expensive cameras in the bag. So I found this bag below to hold my camera gear which is a Hynes Eagle 40L Travel Backpack Airline Approved Carry on Backpack.
- Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack 40L Flight Approved Carry-on Backpack – https://amzn.to/4641Tl7
Next, I needed a camera case big enough to fit into the Hynes and small enough that I still had some space for other immediate items when I carried on. I found a great Neewer Camera Case which can be placed inside the main carry-on bag and still have some space left for other items. The nice thing about this bag is that it’s light and supposedly water-resistant. It comes with a backpack strap which was great during the trip as I was able to separate the camera case from the carryon and put it in the 4×4 vehicle.
- Neewer NW140S Waterproof Camera and Lens Storage Carrying Case 8.7×5.9×12.6 inches Soft Padded Bag – https://amzn.to/48t8kjc
However, what I noticed is that the weight of my bag can get up to about 12kg (26 lbs), and not everyone would like to carry such a heavy bag on their back. So I am going to recommend a different bag so that it’s not so back-breaking.