After we had our safari in Kenya booked, the next thing we needed to tackle was how to pack for our safari in Kenya. Just thinking back now, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed with how to pack, what to pack and the many, many safari packing lists I scoured. The one and only thing I knew was that I needed to pack in a soft-shell style bag that weighed 30 pounds (or less) due to bush plane regulations. After extensive research, Dane and I both settled on using The North Face 65L Banchee Packs (cheapest from Backcountry.com) and they were comfortable for moving around and provided more than enough packing room for 15+ days of travel. If you are headed to Kenya on safari or wanting some packing tips for Kenya, today’s post is for you!
Kenya Safari Packing List
Like I mentioned earlier, I was completely overwhelmed when I began packing for Kenya, as everyone’s packing guide seemed to differ just slightly. This makes total sense given that everyone’s travel style is just a tad bit different. Dane and I knew we would be in camps the entire time, as opposed to in the jungle or on the coast, so packing for both hot and cold temperatures was a must. It gets pretty chilly in the evenings and early mornings in East Africa, so the key for me was layers and I think Dane would say the same. During the day, the temperatures felt like Hawaii (70s) and were perfect for lounging by the pool at our camps. The one important note to make is that a trip to Kenya will put you very close to the equator, so the sun is much, much stronger than you might be used to – packing sunscreen, sunglasses, headbands and a hat for keeping the sun off your face are all musts!
Every guidebook I read said to avoid bright colors, as to not deter the animals, so I stuck to neutrals (mostly grey and green), but while actually on safari, I saw a wide range of colors. One woman even remarked “I wasn’t worried about the color of my shirt, when I knew I would be in a large safari vehicle that had a greater chance of deterring animals.” She has a point!
I didn’t buy any safari-specific clothing and I would recommend anyone planning a trip to do the same. I was perfectly comfortable in a button-up chambray shirt, long-sleeved moisture wicking top and leggings on most days. The winning combination for me was outfits that worked in layers and utilizing a multi-way scarf that I could wear for warmth in the morning, cover my face for particularly dusty excursions and use as a blanket when things got cool again in the evenings. I packed this multi-use scarf and would recommend it 100 times over, especially because it is made with a sweat-wicking material!
The reality of our trip is that I way OVERPACKED! Yep, you read that correctly. At every camp we stayed in, laundry was included with our boarding price, so each day, our dirty clothes were collected, laundered based on our specifications (hang dry, hand wash, etc.) and returned to us the next day. We could have easily gotten away with just packing 3 different outfits and I wish I would have. To note: Check beforehand if your camp or hotel offers a laundry service! Don’t bank on it just based on my post!
My Kenya Safari Packing List
3 long-sleeved tops
2 short-sleeve tops
1-2 button-up shirts (I wore my chambray top multiple days as a layer and alone)
3 pairs of pants (leggings, sport pants or loose-fitting pants)
1-2 pairs fitness shorts (I loved these for the full-day drive we did paired with a long sleeve shirt and scarf)
2 tank tops
8 pairs of underwear (I will say – I went through about 2 pairs per day since I showered frequently to rinse of sweat/dust after morning drives and then post-pool or before bed)
3 sports bras (I didn’t wear a regular bra the entire time. The support in a sports bra was great for bumpy game drives!)
swimsuit and cover-up
toiletries (A couple important notes here: 1. making sure you pack a nasal spray is imperative! The climate in Kenya is so, so dry + I struggled with multiple bloody noses per day. 2.Don’t forget the bug spray, reliable hair ties + a good facial moisturizer. I also recommend a quality chapstick or lip moisturizer!)
multi-use scarf or pashmina
rain jacket (I never ended up using mine, but I travel with one no matter where I go! It’s lightweight and can be folded up easily at the bottom of your pack)
camera gear (leave your drone at home!)
sunglasses, sun hat, headbands and sunscreen
Things I packed that I never got out of my backpack: 1 pair of jeans, 2 sweaters, boots + 4 pairs of corresponding hiking socks, 2 dresses that I had planned to wear to dinner. For us, we always went straight from our evening game drive into dinner. No one is really caring about what you’re wearing at camp (you’re all too busy discussing what animals you saw!), but I think it comes down to personal preference. Dane and I were completely casual this entire trip.
I’ve linked everything I packed for safari below for the sake of convenience, but please feel free to ask any questions you might have! Happy packing 🙂