What to Pack


duffle bagSoft luggage, round like a duffle bag, can be tucked away on charter flights. Rectangular bags are hard to stow on small planes or sailboats.  Consider weight limits for wing safaris (26 pounds including camera gear) or backpacks for treks. Try  Orvis Battenkill® Duffles  and Orvis Battenkill Gear Bag


rollerFew things diminish office politics or other petty matters better than watching birds. Not only have they finessed song, but flight, piercing vision, and fairly impressive architecture. Whether you are identifying birds or simply admiring the beauty of their plumage, good binoculars are essential. Binoculars also help you to distinguish a boulder from a rhino, or identify a boat. Keep binoculars around your neck on a smart strap.

For bird info www.audubon.org


image016Audubon Binoculars/Optics by Sheltered Wings USA


Be sure to take all the film or tape stock you might need with you. The right kind of film/tape is not always available, and when it is, can be very expensive. Include extra camera batteries for your flash/light meter, and for video cameras, take along a charger with plenty of adapter plug-ins for foreign plugs. Ask your tour operator or safari outfitter exactly what kind of power you can expect to find at each accommodation. Some tented camps or remote lodges turn off generator power at night, and some rely on solar power. You may want to take along a charger that can work off a vehicle battery.

Shop at Amazon.com

To Order a Digital Camera


Even when camping out I like to pack one dress, for several reasons. There’s usually at least one restaurant or hotel stop where it’s refreshing to dress up for a change, and I organize “Black-tie” Bush dinners just to break up the routine (giving men the option of simply adding a black bow tie to their casual wear.) On the luxurious trains of South Africa, and in the hotels of Cape Town, travelers dress for dinner. The same dress with a jacket can be worn on your international flight.

Eye glasses

mandelaDust is irritating to contact lens wearers, so pack a pair of reading glasses. You don’t want to miss a day of writing in your journal, or reading books that enhance your journey. This month’s pick,Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales.


magliteThe tiny slim lights are excellent for finding your way in the dark. Many camps turn off power generator at night, and tents may be some distance from the toilet. These flashlights are also useful in a hotel room. Mag Instrument K3A106 Silver Mag-Lite…

Hat with brim

11jnnT88VrL._SL160_Tilley Hat – Cool Mesh Lightweight Airflo Hat Khaki with Olive Underbrim (KHOL) LTM6 Pith helmets are charming but hot, and you will do better to choose a style that folds up for packing; hats are a smart way to protect your hair as well as your ears and face. 116NQZJ0N8L._SL160_
Packable Felt Hat
Scala Wool Felt Crushable Safari Hat, The Wellington

Insect repellant

The standard suggestion is DEET, but more pleasant solutions include Skin so Soft and Oil of Citronella, the preferred anti-mosquito scent employed by the Leakeys at their research camp near Lake Turkana. Wear long sleeves and long pants in the evening, and tuck your slacks into your socks. Use the coil and the mosquito nets provided. Italians insist that basil plants repulse mosquitoes, but garlic seems to repulse only two legged creatures. A dot of ammonia will reduce the itch and inflammation of a bite, even those caused by Tse tse flies.

Malaria pills

Most physicians suggest you begin to take anti-malaria a preventive two weeks before departure. To form your own opinion, consult your doctor and http://www.cdc.gov/travel/ . You can buy anti-malaria medicine online.

Medicine kit

Your personal choices: Aspirin, Lomotil, eye drops, band aids, disinfectant.


A few ATM in major cities; check with your bank. For currency exchange, www.oanda.com


Check your expiration date when you begin to make plans; renewing a passport can take weeks. Make a photo copy of your passport ID page and keep it in a separate place, maybe with those receipts for your traveler’s checks. How to Apply for a Passport Renewal

Rules of the Bush


Never underestimate the power of the sun to zap your energy or wrinkle your skin. Certain destinations, such as Australia and Africa, demand extra care, as do many outdoor activities: skiing, sailing or snorkeling, for example. Sand and snow reflect the sun so the impact is multiplied. It takes a tight weave of cloth to protect your skin; the difference in shirts can range from 5 to 30 SFP. Some shirts and slacks actually have indications of sun protection, but the simple test is to hold them up to the light. Even if you wear protective clothing, apply sunscreen to your hands and face. While there are some reports that sunscreen itself can do harm, you should be able to tell by doing your own personal test for a day. If you use Retinol or alpha hydroxy on your skin, you may need a special kind of sunscreen, because the combination of sunscreen and these treatments may create a reaction as unattractive as sunburn. The great news is that protected skin can recover, and the second best thing you can do for your skin, after protecting it from the sun, is drinking healthy amounts of water.
One packing trick is to carry a very small container of sunscreen in your pocket or backpack so that you can reapply during the day, even if it means replenishing the small bottle from a larger one


Check with your lodge beforehand to see what is provided. Even remote tented camps provide shampoo, shower caps, soaps, and hair dryers. Consider leaving much of this behind to lighten your load. One lifesaver, a small can of Evian provides a refreshing facial mist on those long international flights that are so dehydrating.

Ziplock bags

For your camera, your swimsuit

What not to pack:

Blue jeans take forever to dry, are not welcome in many restaurants or clubs, and only look good on a perfectly slim tush. Sandals are not smart footwear in areas where there are poisonous snakes, thorns, rough terrain, or when a rain shower can flood unsanitary gutters, especially in developing countries. Taking your jewelry is generally not a good idea, but you can buy beautiful local necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Printable copy of packinglist (pdf)