Africa is an absolutely, magical place. They say once you go, you’ll always dream of going back. This is a very true statement. There is something enchanting about going on your first safari to the Dark Continent. The culture, the people, the history, the wide array of animals, it all pulls you in.
I was blessed to go on my first safari in 2007. I must be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I researched all the forums I could on proper bow poundage, proper broad heads, exchange rate with the USD to Rand. I, for lack of a better term, was clueless.
One of the things I learned after that first trip was the proper way to pack for Africa. Not just what to take, but how much and in what bag. I help many people these days with trips like this and this gets brought up a lot……”Erin, what do I take to Africa?” So, I thought I would tell everyone what has worked for me. I know there are many different methods to packing, and everyone that has gone over has “their” way that they like to pack. So, this is just what has worked for me.
When you are in Africa, most will be doing a standard plains game hunt, and staying in a very nice lodge each night. They will do your laundry DAILY! So, you don’t need to pack that many clothes. I took 2 suitcases of clothes over the first time, and used maybe one of them. You will need only 2 sets of hunting clothes. Wear one, they wash the other. You’ll want a sweatshirt and light jacket. During our summer, their winter, it can get cold in Africa, so also take a stocking cap and gloves, & light base layer as the mornings and evenings can get chilly. Layer your clothes so you can remove them as they day gets warmer. For boots, a good smaller paid of hikers work just fine. Don’t forget your sandals and sweats for something a little more comfortable while you sit around the campfire each night.
Don’t pack any electronics, optics, or camera gear in your checked baggage. Put those in your carry-on bag. Luggage may be lost or even stolen, and you don’t want your expensive items to be gone. Use your hunting backpack as your carry on. Fill it with your binoculars, cameras, range finder, and don’t forget noise cancelling headphones and a neck pillow. We also take a small bag with ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, sleeping pills and a small toothbrush and toothpaste. It’s nice to freshen up on these long trips. Take a book or magazine as well, as the flights are long! Don’t forget the portable charger for your phone and charging cord. Some flights will have a USB port to charge your phone on the flight, some will not. And don’t forget your passport! Keep that in your checked bag as well. You will also want to keep all the keys from the locks on your suitcase and bow case here too.
For your bow case or rifle case, get a very sturdy, heavy duty case. The people at the airports won’t be treating your prized rifle of bow with any special handling, because, well, they just don’t care. So, get a good case, one that locks so nobody can open in up. We use the SKB double bow case. Inside we can fit 2 bows, plenty or arrows, and then we can lock it up. It also has wheels, so you can roll it, which is very handy. If there’s enough room, you can also put some clothes in there if you’d like. Don’t put any field point or broad heads in the bow case. Get a good broad head case, and a small archery bag, or box. Inside the archery bag put your field points, bow string wax, and any little things you may also take…extra string, wrenches, etc. Put this in your checked bag, between your clothes. You will want to put your quiver in your checked bag, as the bows won’t fit with them on if you take both in one case. You will also want to put in any tripods you’re taking between your clothes.
Some Items you can take but don’t need to, are scent spray, scent free soap, etc. They are very conscious of the wind over there, so these aren’t necessary. If you do want to take them over however, put them in a large plastic zip lock bag in your checked luggage.
Here is how we pack all our bags:
2 sets of hunting clothes
Facemask or Head net
Bathroom bag (put all liquids in plastic bags in case they break open)
Broadhead box (tape shut)
Archery bag, or box (tape shut)
1 set of travel clothes
Small travel medical bag
Noise cancelling headphones
Book or magazine
Portable phone charger and cord
Keys for locks