Tanzania is one of the most culturally fascinating destinations in Africa, and there is no better way to explore the vast lands of this country than on a safari tour. Choosing a great tour operator and game reserve for your safari tour in Tanzania isn’t that difficult. There are many trusted companies out there and hundreds of resources online to help you pick the best ones. The trickiest part, however, is the packing side of things.
If you’re wondering what to pack for a safari tour in Tanzania, fear not, as we’ve compiled an essential guide to alleviate any stress you might have.
Travel on: a Tanzania safari
This impressive country is home to icons such as Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Manyara and seems to have been designed by Mother Nature herself. It’s a spectacular country full of life, unforgettable panoramas and epic sunsets. Naturally, hundreds of visitors flock to the savannah to visit Tanzania’s most famous residents from wildebeests, giraffes, zebras, elephants and lions that graze its plains and wetlands.
The dry savannah of Tarangire stretches on for miles, breathtaking and teeming with majestic creatures. Further north in the golden plains of the Serengeti National Park, animals are even more frequent. On your travels, you can also visit the Ngorongoro Crater whose inactive, the verdant caldera is destined to astound onlookers.
Though the Tanzanian plateau may be awe-inspiringly beautiful, it’s also a wild land where temperatures fluctuate, mosquitos are common and predators twice your size could easily carry you off for dinner. But first, keep calm and take notes for what to pack (we’ve got you covered).
When to go on a safari tour in Tanzania
First thing’s first: when should you go? After all, the contents (and size) of your luggage depend largely on where you are coming from. The great news is that the Tanzanian plateau where most of its game and natural reserves are found tend to boast moderate temperatures that remain constant throughout the year. Tarangire, for example, hovers around 12°C (55°F) to 17°C (63°F) and up to 29°C (84°F) year-round. The Serengeti National Park is pretty much at the same temperature.
That said, you only have to worry about the wet and dry seasons. With July and August being the country’s coolest, clearest and driest months, they’re definitely the best months to visit Tanzania. However, June through September (October for Tarangire) are the prime months for wildlife viewing as it’s this period when wildebeests and elephants are migrating.
My time in the Serengeti National Park coincided with the arrival of the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra, who annually move in their hundreds of thousands through the region, following the seasonal rains in search of fresh grazing. You can hear them before you see them, thundering hoofs and clouds of dust, and then just as suddenly as they announce their arrival, they stop to relax and regain their strength, their grunts a comforting form of communication.
When packing bear in mind that you are on safari and neutral colours, khaki, cream and greens are advised. A warm fleece, jacket, gloves and scarf for the cold mornings, shedding layers to a t-shirt, sunhat and sunblock as the day warms up. Avoid the colour blue, as there are Tsetsi flies in the area and they’re attracted to the colour and will torment you. Anti malaria prophylactics are also recommended – as is bug spray and a comfy walking shoes. – Dawn, The Incidental Tourist
Travel on: a Great Migration safari
Though Tanzania is a popular tourist destination, going on a safari tour might include a few special considerations when it comes to how and what to pack. These are the tips you need to know.
All of the national parks in Tanzania are incredible in their own way, but there is something quite unique and special about The Tarangire. While small in comparison, it still manages to fit in a lot of big things – namely its abundance of huge African Baobab Trees and large population of elephants. It has the greatest concentration of wildlife outside of the Serengeti eco-system, and its sparse landscape scattered with grassy Savannah plains and acacia trees truly do make you feel as though you are in the heart of the African bush.
As you’ll be in a safari jeep most of the day, I would advise wearing loose, comfortable clothes and shoes. If going in dry season, the landscapes can be quite open and sparse, so packing a hat, sun lotion and sunglasses are also essential! Obviously, a camera is a must-have item too! You won’t want to miss taking pictures of the incredible scenery and wildlife. – Nikki, Where is Nikki?
Opt for a small bag
Check the itinerary and see if it includes any light or small aircraft journeys. If it does, you might want to rethink which suitcase to bring. While international flights give you more luggage allowance, small aircrafts will offer you considerably less than that. Consider packing light or bringing a smaller suitcase or duffel that you’ll pack with the essentials needed on that leg and leave your bigger suitcase somewhere else for safekeeping.
Avoid bright colours
Neutral colours will allow you to blend in better with the surroundings and remain inconspicuous. Bright colours and even white-coloured clothing will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Plus, neutral colours will be easier to wash, and less likely to show stains when travelling.
When I hear about Ruaha National Park, it reminds me of that trip where everything went wrong. I visited many years ago and even now that trip remains to be one of the most memorable trips of all time. Getting to Ruaha National park was a challenge since one of the cars broke down. They had this rule that all cars had to enter the park’s gates by 6:00 PM and we raced against time so that people in one car didn’t have to spend a night inside the car without no rations. But we made it and it is one of the stories that will be told even generations later. If you want to see elephants in Tanzania and without the usual touristy crowd, then this is where you head.
It is generally hot and dry all year round and make sure to pack comfortable clothing. You can keep a jacket just in case. It is advised to halt at Iringa. Else you may end up sitting in the car for around 14-16 hours from Dar-es-salaam. Most of the accommodation, including camping options, are just outside the park but we stayed inside. Make sure to carry camping wear if you are planning to stay in one of the camps outside Ruaha National Park. – Soumya, Travel, Books and Food
Pack many layers
Though the plateau generally maintains consistent temperatures year-round, those temperatures do change depending on the time of day. Consider packing light layers for late spring and early autumn that you can easily peel off and put back on when the temperature changes.
What to pack for a safari tour in Tanzania
T-shirts or tops
Light, breathable pieces (preferably with long sleeves) will go a long way to keep you comfortable, especially around midday when it’s warmer, and still provide enough protection from the sun.
You certainly do not require anything too thick, but a jacket to keep you warm in the early mornings and after sundown is absolutely necessary.
Two pairs of safari pants
Comfortable safari pants that zip off at the knee give you the flexibility of removing or adding coverage, depending on the temperatures or whether your tour involves a bit of walking. Take an extra pair just in case the first pair gets soiled. If safari cargo pants aren’t your thing, your regular trousers and shorts are welcome so long as they’re comfortable and breathable.
A pair of walking shoes or hiking boots
Leave your sneakers or sandals at home, please. You’re going to need proper walking or hiking shoes, a pair that gives you the proper support you need and preferably one size bigger so your toes don’t hurt if you’re doing a lot of walking or hiking. If you’re buying a new pair, do remember to break them in before your trip.
Travel on: a walking safari
A few pairs of socks
Remember, a good pair of socks is just as essential as a reliable pair of shoes. Take socks that won’t overheat your feet or restrict your circulation.
No need to get fancy. A hat that properly covers your face and possibly the back of your neck will keep away the sunburn.
If you’re staying at a nice safari lodge with a pool, you’ll definitely want to do a couple of laps or take a lovely dip.
What I enjoyed most about my time at the snake park was learning all about the Masai culture. There is a museum there and a cultural centre and someone from the local Masai community will give you a tour and tell you all about how they live. The snake park is also a clinic. It treats about 30 000 people from the surround area and it’s the only place for miles that has anti-venom for snake bites. It’s free for the community and the money you spend there camping and at the bar goes to support the clinic. If you have a chance to speak to ma at the bar, she’s a lovely women who is very passionate about what she does and she can tell you all about the clinic and why and how it was started. It’s absolutely worth a visit.
The snake park is a camping ground, there is no roofed accommodation so you need to be prepared for that. Pack a tent and make sure you shake out your tent before rolling it up as there are usually scorpions hiding underneath it. Pack a warm sleeping bag. Arusha may be hot during the day but it can get pretty cold at night. Also, I would recommend backing some shower shoes as it gets pretty muddy in the showers with all the dust and dirt that gets trekked in from outside. The snake park is just a matatu ride outside Arusha, so the city is accessible from there but it’s not walkable. – Brittany, Stay Curious, Darling
Though these might be obvious, it wouldn’t hurt adding these items to your packing list. After all, we’re all bound to forget a thing or two, and some of these will definitely not be available in the shops.
- Your passport, travel insurance and other important travel documentation.
- Prescription drugs as well as preventative, non-prescription medications like pain relievers, antidiarrheals, antihistamines, and motion sickness pills.
- A powerful DSLR.
- Be sun smart. As you’ll be spending a lot of your time outdoors and under the sun, seriously consider packing plenty of sunblock with high SPF protection, a lip balm for dry or chapped lips, a pair of sunglasses, plenty of water to keep hydrated, and a bandanna that you can wrap around your neck if you need more coverage.
- A reliable, if not excellent, telephoto lens, because how else will you capture those picture-perfect wildlife moments.
- A good wide-angle lens for landscape shots.
- A pair of binoculars with at least 10x magnification so you won’t miss a single sighting!
There’s nothing quite as special as falling asleep to the vaguely intimidating lullaby of wildebeest grunting, hyenas chuckling, and elephants foraging through the acacia trees around your tented camp. There is no silence on the Serengeti, but it’s one of the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have.Sure, there’s the occasional rustling just outside of your camp that your imagination immediately turns in to hungry lions, but soon enough you’re waking for a sunrise game drive and wondering why you can’t sleep as soundly when you’re at home.Be sure to pack an external battery pack for your camera and/or phone. Many tented camps don’t have 24/7 electricity, so it can be hard to keep all of your gadgets charged while on a Serengeti safari. – Chris, Aussie on the Road
Travel on: an African safari
Share your best safari travel tips in the comments below.