Due to nice weather, plentiful game, and great accommodations, Africa is not gear intensive. Follow this advice and you can pack for nearly any African safari in less time than it takes to drain a Tusker beer.
You can damn near go on safari with the clothes on your back and an extra set thrown in your carry-on, as most operations worth their salt do daily laundry. But to be best prepared, specifically pack
- Two pairs of socks – I like short ankle-heights that fit under ankle-length gaiters. Pack a third pair if your stay is over a week.
- Short gaiters like these from Courteney –They’re excellent for keeping seeds and sand out.
- Two sets of undies — If you chew Copenhagen, drink coffee by the gallon, are shit-scared of snakes or suffer from old man bowel syndrome in general, consider adding a third set as an insurance policy … I do.
- Two pairs of shorts – Any shorts will work but nothing longer than a 7-inch inseam. Your PH should be able to see some ball hair if you squat down to look at a track; if not, your shorts are too long or you are guilty of non-Field Ethos approved effeminate manscaping. Side thought on manscaping: all one should be able to see if you strip down and jump in the camp pool is head and mane, just like a mature African lion.
- Two cotton bush shirts – I like muted Olive Drab because khaki makes you look like a creepy Johnathon Higgins.
- Boots – Courtney’s. Period. Well, maybe with one exception. If you are hunting the swamps in a canoe then throw in some Crocs—the holes will let the water, as well as your self-esteem, drain out.
- Sweater – Pullover? … No, it is a cardigan, but thanks for asking … whatever your style, a sweater for evenings and mornings is handy. Kuiu’s basecamp Full Zip Sweater is ideal.
- Pants – these are optional depending upon time of year, but not a bad idea to throw in a pair of canvas field pants for the occasional cold snap. Of course your PH will think less of you if you wear them–because he’ll be wearing his Magnum PI nut-huggers even if there’s ice on the grass–but at least he’ll be professional enough to keep his thoughts to himself.
- Rifle and Optics—Bring your favorite elk-caliber rifle for plains game hunting; anything from .270 to .300 Win Mag is fine. No need for a .375 H&H on a plains game safari. In most places in Africa the shots are relatively close so any easy-carrying, accurate, reliable hunting rifle is perfect. One of my favorites for nostalgia and performance is the venerable Winchester Model 70 in 30-06 topped with a Leupold VX 3HD 3.5-10x.
- Binos —Bring a light set of low-powered binos for hunting as well wildlife watching. Leupold’s little BX4 8×32 is perfect. You will also be especially thankful you brought them if there is an all female SAA retreat occupying the neighboring camp … but trust us, there won’t be.
- Camera – Pack quality; safaris don’t come around every day and you will want to remember it in high res and share them with your kids someday. Yes, an iPhone will get the job done, but a Leica Q2 will make you appreciate the act of being a photographer and will take much better photos. Plus it looks cool as shit slung around your neck.
- Small Flashlight – It’s always handy to have a small flashlight in your pocket and Africa is no exception. The rechargeable Surefire Stiletto is ideal for checking the trail back to your tent for mambas as you stager home from the communal bar area.