WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR AFRICAN TRIP
The multi-diverse African continent has attracted much deserved attention of travellers from all over the world. We picked ten essentials that will make your travels across the dusty African roads easier
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Kristina Tamašauskaitė
13 May 2020
Visiting Africa is a dream come true. Every country on the continent has something different to offer. The more places you explore, the more obvious it becomes that they are all connected and do the continent equal justice. When you head to Africa, there are essential things you need to take that will prove to be useful at many stages of your travels. Regardless of the time of the year you are planning to go, Africa’s traditions, culture and travel conditions will require some gear. We made a list of some of the essentials that you’ll love to bring along with you when heading to explore the continent.
If you are heading for a place that cannot be any more different than your hometown (and possibly most other places you have been to), then stocking up on plenty SD cards is a must. Africa is a beautiful country and the more you explore it, the more memories you’ll wish you can take back with you. Shopping online for SD cards is generally cheaper and the most convenient option. Even as an amateur photographer, we recommend stocking up on a few big capacity SD cards so that once you take all the snaps of elephants and cheetahs in the wild, you’ll still have enough space to capture the essence of Africa from the more rural areas and take a few selfies along the way.
Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt – wherever you are, there will be so much beauty, culture and natural wonders to see and explore. Your days will be interesting, each different from the others, yet there will possibly be one thing that combines them all: you’ll travel long distances at a time. At times the route will be uncertain, and the conditions will make you feel grateful for bringing your water bottle along. This is a must-have item as it is important to hydrate regularly throughout the day. A refillable bottle is a great idea to pay attention to your travel habits and do your bit to keep the planet clean. Deserts of Egypt, here we come!
The sun is heavy and will feel like it’s way hotter than your typical summer. Be prepared to protect your skin and don’t underestimate the importance of it. Take some sunscreen with you and apply it as often as every 2-3 hours for optimal coverage and sun protection so that you avoid burning and prepare your skin for the sun rays.
Cash is king when travelling, especially in places around Africa. Whenever you find an ATM, you’ll probably quickly come to realise that they are not as reliable as they should be. Often, they would have ran out of cash or charge a huge sum to withdraw money. Whatever sum you’ve planned to take with you, it’d be a good idea to increase it. It is better safe than sorry and will definitely be handy to have extra cash to spare in case things turn out to be pricier than you would have anticipated. Safari trips and tours, accommodation places and restaurants, smaller shops and bigger food supplier supermarkets all accept cash so the USD should be something you have with you at all times.
Another continent, another place for your immune system to get used to altogether. Catching malaria may seem a bit extreme, but it’s a possibility in many places across Africa. Make sure to pack enough mosquito repellent spray bottles to last for your entire trip. Consider buying a bite relief pen if you get bitten by mosquitoes easily. We recommend taking extra precautions, such as visiting a local nurse if you have any additional health conditions that worry you. There are simple thing you can do on daily basis to make sure you’re staying safe from bites such as wear long sleeved tops and long trousers at night and avoid using all unnecessary toiletries such as perfumes.
Caps, wide brimmed hats, oversized sun hats… Whatever your style is, make sure to pack a hat. Generally, the bigger it is, the better. The sun feels great and having the opportunity to explore countries under the endless warm feel of the sunshine touching your skin is great and it is also an amazing excuse to fashion your travel style up with a stylish hat.
This will come in handy if you visit certain places on the continent where it is expected, especially from women, to cover up. The cool thing about a thin scarf such as a sarong, is that you can adapt it to your needs. Use it as a beach towel whenever you end up around the water in the incredible African beaches or wrap it up around your waist or head whenever you visit the more religious areas. On the plus side, it is light and doesn’t take much space so if you think about how useful it can be, a scarf can turn out to be one of the best things you can find in your luggage on your African travels.
FIRST AID TRAVEL KIT
Hopefully, you won’t need to use a first aid kit, but nevertheless you need to be prepared. Exploring the wild side of any place is as exciting as it can be unpredictable. You’ll more likely than not experience life on the road for long hours at a time and you’ll travel non-stop until you get to little villages as far away from civilisation as possible. Sometimes this adventurism comes with risks and you can feel ill at times. Better safe than sorry has never been as important so make sure to bring along a travel size first aid kit so you have all the bandages, antiseptic creams and typical medications handy if the situation requires it.
Batteries will be your best friend. As important as it is to connect to a place when you visit, it is equally crucial to do your research in advance. Africa is a unique place known for the wilderness and the total isolation you’ll experience in certain areas. Electricity is a luxury and cannot be relied on to find everywhere. Bring along a torch with you to be able to navigate at night. This will require having enough batteries to be prepared for the fall of the night. There is nothing scarier than having to make your way at night in the wild with no light and the soundtrack of lions roaming in the near distance.
Showering everyday is great, especially when you travel for a weeks and months at a time. Certain places in Africa won’t have the much loved facilities for taking a shower and considering that maintaining a high level of hygiene at all times, even as a long-distance traveller, you need to make sure you have as much things as you need to stay clean on the road. Wet wipes are very handy for all kinds of situations. You’ll be grateful to yourself for taking a pack or two… or three along for your dusty African trip.