What to pack for a safari in Tanzania ?

Your Safari is booked and you are ready to experience this extraordinary adventure in the middle of the African savannah. 

We all dreamed of being able to see with our own eyes the fabulous landscapes of the « Lion King » and his wild animals. A safari is a unique experience to be enjoyed at least once in your life for nature lovers and especially wildlife lovers.

Will you have the chance to meet the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, rhinos) on your safari? 

I wish you this because I personally had this chance and it is an incredible feeling to be only a few meters away from these majestic wild animals.

Why choosing Tanzania for a Safari?

Safari in Tanzania

Tanzania is a rich country both for its flora and wildlife, so it is well known for its Safaris. Some even say that there are the most beautiful parks in the world for safari. 

So this is the country I chose to go on my first safari.

Among the country’s national parks are

  • In the North: 
    • The immense plains of the famous Serengeti (did you know that the Serengeti Park inspired « The Lion King »?)
    • Tarangire National Park
    • Lake Manyara
    • The Ngorongoro Crater
    • Arusha National Park
  • In the South:
    • Mikumi National Park
    • Saadani National Park
    • The Selous Reserve
    • Ruaha National Park
  • In the West: 
    • Katavi National Park
    • Mahale National Park
    • Gomb

For my part, I chose to go on a 5-day camping safari in the Northern Parks in June. So I went to the parks of Tarangire, Serengeti, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.

You are ready for the start but you are wondering what to put in your suitcase to meet the Big Five (and many others of course)?

Based on my personal experience on site, I have prepared a list of the essential things to take for a successful Safari.

Backpack or suitcase for a safari in Tanzania?

Backpack or suitcase? That is the first question we can ask ourselves. The answer depends on the style of safari you have chosen.

Are you going on a private safari in Tanzania? 

It all depends on the number of people, the number of days on your safari and the size of the vehicle you will be using. But you can take a suitcase as well as a bag. 

To give you an idea, as a rule the car will be loaded with your personal bags or suitcases as well as food and water for the duration of your safari.

Also, if you have opted for a camping safari, your car will carry all the necessary camping equipment (tents, mattresses, sleeping bags etc…) 

Keep in mind that you must bring the bare essentials because the space is not unlimited.

However, it is easier to walk around with a bag than with a rolling suitcase because access is not always provided for the latter. If you choose to take a suitcase with you, I advise you to take one with relatively strong wheels so that you can roll it in the « ground » just in case.

For example, you can choose this type of suitcase:

Or that kind of backpack:


Not forgetting of course to take a small bag that you will keep with you all day long in which you will have everything you may need during the day (cameras, accessories, small sweater…).

Are you going on a safari shared with a group? 

In this case, the space in the vehicle may be more limited. You should therefore think of finding a bag that will allow you to take the bare essentials for the duration of your safari.

Safari vehicles can accommodate between 6 and 20 people. So it will all depend on the size of your group.

To give you an example, I went on a 5-day camping safari with a group. We were 6 in a vehicle that could accommodate 7 people + the maximum guide. The car was full. Knowing that we had a tarpaulin on the roof with some camping bags and mattresses. 

It is better to bring a backpack rather than a suitcase for this kind of safari.

I recommend a backpack like this one:

With a small bag for the day for photographic equipment, a small sweater etc…. like these two:

However, in the event that you continue your journey in the country after your safari and if you have the possibility of leaving a main luggage in a trusted hotel, I advise you to take a smaller backpack if your safari does not exceed 4 – 5 days. This will be much more convenient for you to move around.

A bag like this one, for example:

Once the choice of the bag is made, you wonder, what will I put in this suitcase for my safari?

What clothes should I wear for a safari in Tanzania?

Contrary to what some may think, on your safari you will spend most of your time in the car. 

It is therefore not necessary to bring an astronomical amount of clothing. Of course, it also depends on how long your safari lasts, but the most important thing is to be comfortable in your clothes. 

Top clothes for a safari in Tanzania

Regardless of the season in which you will be on your safari, it is essential to have the following clothes:

  • T-shirts 
  • At least one sweater: it can be cold during the day. It should be noted that during the day when you walk around the national parks you drive with the roof open and therefore there can be a lot of wind. 
  • A small down jacket/ or windbreaker to keep warm especially in the evening when temperatures drop. Temperatures drop even more during rainy periods (March-June).
  • A k-way is always interesting to have especially if you go on safari during the rainy season.

Bottom clothes for a safari in Tanzania

  • Shorts/ dresses in summer for hot and sunny days
  • At least one pair of pants because the weather can change quickly and it is better to prevent than to cure. 
  • Clothing / legging: in the evening the temperatures decrease and you are always more comfortable in a jogging suit.

Which shoes for a safari in Tanzania?

As I said earlier, on the safari you will spend most of the time in the car so it is not necessary to bring large and heavy mountain boots.

On the other hand, I advise you to choose a pair of sneakers with which you are comfortable, such as these for example:

You can also take a pair of flip-flops that can be useful in the evening at the campsite or lodge or even during the day if it is hot.

Personally, I went on safari with a pair of sneakers and a pair of flip-flops and it was perfect for me.

Should you bring a sleeping bag or not for a safari in Tanzania?

You’re going on a camping safari and we didn’t tell you if you should bring a sleeping bag?

Well, there’s no rule to answer that question. 

It all depends on the organization with which you booked your safari. 

As an indication, I went on my safari with a small summer down (15 degrees) in June, it was right because in the evening the temperatures can drop drastically.

The people I went on safari with did not have a sleeping bag and the organizers had what they needed so I advise you to contact the organization you are leaving with before your departure.

However, you should know that you are going to Africa where hygiene can leave something to be desired, so I strongly advise you to take a meat bag that you will slip into before entering the down that will be lent to you.

If you prefer to have your own down, I recommend a light and compact enough down like this for a safari: 

The perfect toilet bag for a safari in Tanzania

The toilet bag is an important element when preparing for a safari.

Of course, I would not mention the elements that seem essential to me such as the toothbrush, toothpaste, brush etc…..

I will focus on some essential elements to remember when going on safari:

  • Soap/ shampoo: if you sleep at the campsite, these are things you should not forget. A special message for people with long hair: I advise you to take a good shampoo/ detangler if you go on a long enough safari because with the roof open, when you walk on the « sand/ground » tracks in search of the Big 5, your hair will harvest a good part of the savannah land. And it is not always easy to untangle hair full of dust….
  • A good sunscreen: even if the sun can hide behind the clouds, it hits hard! Remember, you are in Africa and the sun does not strike in the same way as at home. So protect your skin!
  • Wipes: they are always great when camping and especially with all the dust you will collect on you.
  • Mosquito repellent: Camping, nature, savannah, exotic places rhyme with mosquitoes no?! I advise you to bring a mosquito repellent before going on an adventure.
  • A small medicine kit: to prevent any small misadventure.

What type of camera, lenses and accessories should I use for a safari in Tanzania? 

Here, a large part of your suitcase is ready, but you still lack « the most important » I would say… Namely the photographic equipment necessary to immortalize this extraordinary adventure that you are about to join.

What type of camera should I take for a safari in Tanzania?

I couldn’t advise you better than to take a good quality camera to bring back lots of beautiful pictures from your safari. But of course, the question of the budget arises. We don’t all have the same budget to put in a camera.

At the moment smartphones make beautiful pictures, so bring your mobile phone and you will already have good pictures.

However, the disadvantage of smartphones remains the zoom… Which will be a big disadvantage especially on safari where you want to take pictures of wild animals at more or less close distances. 

I therefore advise you to choose a SLR or hybrid camera with interchangeable lenses to cover as many photographic possibilities as possible.

Personally I resold my reflex to turn to a hybrid before I left for the safari and I have no regrets about this choice.

Even more important than the camera are the lenses. 

What objectives should I get for a safari in Tanzania?

You can buy the most expensive camera in the world but if you don’t have the right lenses for the safari, it won’t do you much good.

During the Safari you will be able to see animals within a metre of you and others within 100 metres of you. It is therefore important to be prepared for any eventuality.

For the objectives, depending on the space you have in your suitcase, I advise you to have at least:

  • A 15- 45mm type lens for landscapes without the need for a large zoom.
  • A telephoto lens greater than 300 mm or even 400 mm. This telephoto lens will allow you to take beautiful pictures of wild animals. The price is indeed high for this type of telephoto lens but do not forget that you can rent this type of telephoto lens in specialized stores before your departure.

What are the essential photographic accessories for a safari?

Once you have chosen the camera and its lenses, you still have all the accessories you need to take beautiful safari photos.

  • A tripod, monopod, gorillapod or bean bag: essential to help you stabilize yourself in the car. This accessory is even more useful when you have a heavy telephoto lens. This will prevent you from moving and getting blurry pictures.
  • Sun visors and filters: depending on the season and the sun, a polarizing filter and a sun visor can be very interesting and above all it does not take up too much space.
  • Spare batteries: I left with 3 batteries to make sure I didn’t miss. There was enough to recharge in the car, but this is not the case with all agencies. 
  • Memory cards: nothing is more frustrating than being on a safari and no longer having room on your memory cards. I therefore advise you to take enough to avoid feeling this frustration on the spot.
  • An action camera: this is not mandatory, but can be useful for making videos. I left with my GoPro too, and I’m glad I got it.
  • External battery /solar battery: in campsites there are no or few sockets to charge your electrical appliances so I advise you to invest in an external battery, it will always serve you.
  • Binoculars: in some cars pairs of binoculars are provided but in others this is not the case. 

With all this you are ready to take some great pictures during your safari.

What other accessories are essential for a safari in Tanzania?

You should not forget these last few essential items to put in your suitcase before the safari:

  • A pair of sunglasses
  • A cap or hat: to protect you from the sun that is present in this part of the world
  • A scarf: to protect you from wind or dust. Believe me, it’s something I’m very happy to have had on my safari.
  • A flashlight: to move around in the evening or simply to light up in the evening.

That’s it, you’re ready to embark on this great adventure. So don’t hesitate to come back to the site after your safari to tell us about your experience!

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