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mairseydotes Mar 13th, 2006 09:54 AM

A Safari w/ 1 Carry-On?
This is our first safari and we are trying to figure out if it's possible to take only 1 carry-on plus 1 backpack each for a 2 wk trip to Tanzania. I'd carry my laptop and camera in my back pack and try to save space by packing silk long johns and a turtleneck for the N'goro Crater instead of bulky fleeces and sweaters (is that enough?). Will I need a hairdryer, too? Are long pants/sleeves de rigeur to avoid mosquitoes/flies? 'Any good ideas about what works/doesn't for clothing? Thanks!!!

sandi Mar 13th, 2006 10:22 AM

You can certainly do it with 1-carry on, but your airline might now allow it. So check with them.

africnow Mar 13th, 2006 12:46 PM

Hope that you get a reply to this re silk long johns and a turtle neck. I am doing much the same and hope to travel with only my knapsack (45 Litre).

When will you be going? I'll be there in August, so it might be a bit cold then...

Peterman Mar 13th, 2006 01:00 PM

We did it, and we had a three week trip that also included some tropical islands and all of those 'required' clothes, too. The key item for us both was the thin fleece zip top (Columbia sportswear) for the cold and the traditional "safari" shirts l/s with roll up and button possibilities for all other times. Apart from under t-shirts, we switched off between two l/s safari shirts and the thin fleece the whole time. Definitely doable. We did one small Kiplinger carry on and one medium-small backpack each. The one thing we would leave home next time? Binos. Oyurs were not as good as the ones provided by the safari, and honestly we never needed them we were right on top of the animals always (Botswana). Souvenirs were in their own shopping bag on the way home and the airline was very cool about it (business class Air France). You can do it!

jasher Mar 13th, 2006 01:39 PM


Assuming a reasonably large backpack, you should be fine. I fit everything into one small carry-on size dufflebag and one shoulder bag for camera gear. Since the camps do laundry nightly, you really don't need much in terms of clothing.

I wouldn't bother to bring a hairdryer when travelling (on safari or anywhere else). Any place that has the power to run one is likely to have one in the room, and at the other places it's just an extra weight in your bag. That being said, I don't bother to use one at home so I don't miss having one -- other people might feel differently.


napamatt Mar 13th, 2006 02:19 PM

Where will you put your dinner jacket?

mairseydotes Mar 13th, 2006 04:32 PM

Sandi-why do you think the airlines won't let us bring a carry-on and knapsack? I thought 2 carry-ons were okay. We're flying A.A.(coach) to London and B.A.(business class) to Nairobi.

Africnow--it looks like we'll need a light fleece. I had hoped to make it with the silk long johns and turtlenecks, but maybe we'll wear our fleeces tied around waist to leave space in the luggage. We leave at the end of May and come back mid-June, so it'll be winter there.

Julian and Peterman--thanks! No hairdryer no binocs. The roll up safari shirts sound great. Where do you get them?

Napamatt--dinner jacket??? Uh-oh. I was told no need for one.

bat Mar 13th, 2006 04:47 PM

Take binocs--I do not think that you can count on them being provided. Used mine all of the time.

Toshi Mar 13th, 2006 04:55 PM

We too did all carry-on.

On the return flight, British Air in Nairobi was adament about ONE BAG PER PERSON, and about half the people in line had to check bags at the gate. Granted, we were on freebie tickets in steerage class. They did allow a "small personal item" (like a shopping bag or purse - but not a backpack).

We had laundry done a few times and went with "safari shirts" and zip-off pants to have more options with fewer clothes. Mostly ExOfficio and REI.

For easier packing in the future, our packing list is documented here.

I haven't been to Botswana, but for Tanzania I would definitely bring binoculars (unless you have at least a 400mm camera lens). I don't know who your tour operator is, but all vehicles don't carry binos - and there's nothing more frustrating than sitting there while other people watch something interesting through binoculars and all you see is shapes :)

Also not sure when you are traveling, but when we were at the crater (Dec) there was no need for long johns and turtlenecks even at night. I agree with the previous poster - thin fleece and layering is key. Definitely wear your bulkiest items on the plane to save room.

atravelynn Mar 13th, 2006 07:09 PM

Do bring binocs for one and all. As was mentioned, no need for a hair dryer. Hair can air dry midday when it is quite warm. That's when you'll be showering.

Toshi's comment about wearing bulky items on the plane is the only way I can make it with just carry on luggage.

Since my luggage is delayed (though never lost for good) 5% of the time, I wear it all on the plane. Several layers if needed. Binoculars as a necklace. Underwear in every pocket.

I appreciated very warm clothes at the crater when I've been there in July.

jasher Mar 14th, 2006 01:57 AM


Naturally, my valet takes care of my clothing. My bags are purely for personal items.


Kavey Mar 14th, 2006 02:04 AM

Provided at least some camps on your itinerary provide laundry you really can take less clothes than you need. Two pairs of trousers, a few Tshirts, a couple of long sleeved tops and a fleece. And undies, socks and one set of thermal longjohns incase it gets very cold.

Toiletries and a medicine kit are what end up weighing my main luggage down, that and camera gear (which I take as hand luggage).

I tend not to use binocs that much as I have the zoom on the camera too but I think it is worth at least having one between two people if not one each. I've not yet been on a safari where binocs were provided for guests, though guides often generously loan theirs to a guest who doesn't have one.

laurie_ann Mar 14th, 2006 04:20 AM

If you haven't already you MUST click through to see Toshi's packing list, if only for the engineering marvel in its presentation. (If you can't read it at first because it is too small, click on the icon that will be floating on the page of a square with an arrow pointing out of each corner which brings it to normal size.) Love it!

africnow Mar 14th, 2006 07:29 AM

As if I wasn't confused enough as is ;))
Yes binocs, no binocs.
Yes long undies, no long undies
Yes fleece, no fleece

I will be in TZ and Kenya in late August, including N'gorongono *camping* on the top.

I very much want to travel with only one carry-on knapsack since I have only an hour to change planes in Amsterdam. I do know about wearing most of my heavier stuff and such. Can one get away with 2 necklaces (binocs and camera)? I'll have 2 cameras - one digital and one film, so that makes 3 necklaces !!

I'm flying KLM all the way if that makes any difference.

Open to any and all further suggestions!
Thanks all

Peterman Mar 14th, 2006 08:12 AM

Hi Mairseydotes:

Let's see, where to get the shirts? REI is where I got mine. There is a catalogue company, Royal Robbins, that specializes in those sorts of things.
Have fun!

ShayTay Mar 14th, 2006 08:37 AM

I like Ex Officio clothing for safari. You can check out the "Clearance" section of their website at Right now, they have the zip-off pants for women for $25. REI has a similar site, They have Ex Officio's Drylite shirts for women on sale at $36.93. That shirt's sleeves roll up and tab to become short-sleeved. LL Bean is advertising a nice fleece/windbreaker combo jacket right now. I used a safari jacket and fleece vest in June and that seemed to be enough. Layering is a good idea. Some days will be quite warm and others will be cold, such as on the Crater rim. As for mosquitoes, I've never seen that many in Tanzania, but you should cover up in the evenings, when they are the most active. Tstetse flies: again, I haven't seen that many in TZ; maybe we were just lucky. About the only way to avoid them is to not wear dark blue or black clothing.

I would agree; forget the hairdryer. Most places won't have the amps for that. You'll need a good, wide-brimmed hat (not a baseball cap) and will have "hat hair" anyway. Hey, you're on safari!

I assume the laptop is for digital photo downloads. Have you considered a smaller media viewer/hard-drive such as the Epson P2000? Charge up everything while you have access to power.

Binocs...I've always used my telephoto lens in place of binocs, but have occasionally borrowed some for certain sightings. You can't go offroad in the Tanzania parks, so some wildlife will be at quite a distance. Have at least one pair between the two of you. I agree that most tour operators don't supply binocs. The guide will have a pair and might lend them to you, but will need them himself for sightings.

KLM's website ( has their baggage restrictions for traveling in the US and overseas. For Economy class, the US restrictions are 2 pieces, max 70 lbs total, 158cm linear dimensions each piece. The international restriction is a max of 50 lbs total, no size or piece restrictions. However, when our group was boarding our KLM flight in Amsterdam, one person's medium-sized duffel bag was taken from him as being the wrong size (thicker than 9") and gate-checked. He had carried it onto the NWA flight in the US with no problem. When he got to Arusha, he found that someone in Amsterdam had stolen a large package of batteries for his digital camera out of the bag. If you carry on both your bags, just make sure that the main bag meets the usual size restrictions (22" x 14" X 9") and that your second (camera) bag can go under the seat. NWA (KLM's partner) says that the second bag should be no larger than 15" x 11" x 6". In any event, I would have some way of locking your main bag, should KLM decide to gate-check it.

cooncat Mar 14th, 2006 09:49 AM

Since y'all are talking clothing... does anyone know if anyone makes the zip off pants in a style that fit a bit lower on the waist and do not make one look like they are wearing an inflated baggy? Thanks!

bat Mar 14th, 2006 10:09 AM

re binoculars I think that there is one consistent theme to the replies--that you cannot count on binoculars from your tour operator in TZ (you can inquire if you want to--but the guide will need his).

--if you expect to be using your camera with a good zoom lens most of the time then you might consider getting away with 1 pair of binoculars. But even here I would add a caveat. Our camera was a FZ30 which has an excellent zoom lens--but not a great viewfinder. So even though my SO was using the camera much of the time, he enjoyed taking binocular breaks some times--just to be able to watch. We each had our own. Our friend went back and forth between his camera and binoculars and would not have done without either.

As someone else said--the serengeti is on-road driving so some of the action will be at a distance (true for the crater also-it is the only way that I saw a rhino, for example).

Personally I cannot imagine going on an expensive safari trip without my own pair of binoculars.

Re warmth, if you are camping in Ngo in August, I believe that you will want to have silk long johns and a fleece (but it does not have to be your bulky one--as has been said, be able to layer).

sandi Mar 14th, 2006 10:34 AM

Sharon -

No one looks smart in those zip-off pants; they're so unflattering regardless how tiny one might be. And, no, I haven't seen any that sit on the hips. I told you they weren't fashionable. Besides, hip pants are now out of style. LOL!

atravelynn Mar 14th, 2006 11:23 AM

Here are some specifics on why I would encourage everyone to bring their own pair of binoculars. If a pair or group is sharing they cause a lot of commotion in the vehicle. Putting them on, taking them off. "Who has the binocs?" Then, "Are you done?" "Can I have them now?" "What's it doing?" "Let me see."

So for your sake and for the sake of others you might be sharing a vehicle with, the binoculars are worthwhile.

Like Bat's advice, "Don't go on an expensive safari without them."

There was a comment about the operator providing them. That could be the case, but I've never seen it. A guide might graciously be willing to share his, but equipping the vehicle with guest binocs is just not something I've ever encountered or would count on.

I find that the zip off pants go well with my dirt stained sarafi face, making for quite an ensemble.

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