I know that Mary J, myself and others may be getting ready to go on their first safari. But thankfully, there is many of you that have gone before and can maybe pass wisdom on to us and help us. We only have the one bag and 20 kg allowance so we need to maximize the usage. I would love for you to suggest items to pack or maybe even your Top 5 Do Not Leave Home Without It When Going on Safari. We have gotten our shots andour International Drivers Permit but what are the essentials? Is Bug Spray a needed item? Did anyone utilize the Laundry Services? We won't be able to leave a bag stored on our last leg of the trip (we fly into Nelspruit and then take private car to Sabi Sabi but afterwards we fly back to Joburg via Fed Air and that is who has the 1 bag-20 kg limit) so if there are any other ideas, allare welcome and appreciated. I did find out that we are allowed a laptop bag/carryon bag for very small items.
Our safaris will be 3/31 - 4/3 and 4/9-13.
Message Edited by betsyv on 03-02-2009 06:47 AM
[Yes, this response was also posted under 'General Travel Q&A' but thought it would be useful to have it here for people seeking information on Africa].
I've been on a lot of safaris, and over time I've learned that the key is to pack light (laundry is done daily at the camps, so it's not necessary to pack as many clothes as you might for a city holiday) and to be prepared to layer, as temperatures can change rather drastically over the course of a day. Seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so while we are moving in to spring in Europe and North America during April Africa is moving into autumn and from there into winter. While the African winter is comparatively mild (you'll still get daytime highs in the 70sF) it will be chilly in the early morning when you leave camp for the morning drive and after the sun sets during the evening drive. The camps will have warm ponchos in the vehicles, but it's advisable to bring a warm hat, scarf, and gloves (they take up next to no space and can make you much more comfortable if you're sensitive to cold). During the day you'll probably want a safari hat with a brim as the sun can be quite intense, and adequate sunblock is a must.
Generally it's best to go with neutral colours (brown, green, grey, khaki) as they blend into the bush and are less likely to attract attention from animals or insects. Most animals can only see a limited range of colours, but they are very sensitive to contrast and patterns; as one of the main reasons for going on safari is to see animals behaving naturally in the wild, it's best to avoid clothing which attracts their attention as it may make them nervous. Another thing to avoid is perfume, cologne, and other scented products which tend to attract insects.
Many people bring their own insect repellent, though almost all camps in Southern Africa will provide a South African repellent called 'Peaceful Sleep.' Studies have shown that there needs to be a minimum of 30% DEET in the repellent for it to be effective (Peaceful Sleep is 33% DEET). There's no strong evidence to suggest that higher concentrations are more effective, though they do mean that you can go longer between applications; the main problem with them is that they irritate some people's skin. If you have sensitive skin, it's best to use the lower concentration and apply more frequently. The main time you'll need to apply repellent is around sunset as that's when the mosquitoes start coming out. You're starting your trip during the coolest part of the year, so the population of bugs is smaller risk of being bitten is at its lowest -- however, it's still important to wear repellent as there are still mossies around, and low risk is not the same as no risk. I normally bring a small tube of DEET lotion on my trips and use the camp repellent; if you have sensitive skin it's best to bring your own and to test it out beforehand so you know you won't react to it.
Don't forget to make an appointment to see a travel medicine specialist before you leave. if you are travelling in a malarial region taking anti-malarials is highly recommended, but the right one for you depends heavily on your particular medical history. You'll also want to make sure that your normal immunisations are topped up.