Packing Tips

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Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:21 AM
  #1
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Packing Tips

We are leaving in 9 weeks for our trip to southern Africa. Our itinerary looks like this:
Cape Town (Portswood Hotel) - 3 nights
Elephant Plains Lodge - 3 nights
Johannesburg (Balalaika Hotel) - 1 night
Victoria Falls (Ilala Lodge) - 2 nights
Nxabega Okavanga Lodge - 3 nights

I have decreed that I am never doing checked luggage again after spending 5 days without suitcases last Christmas. And for going to the Okavanga Delta, we are limited to 12 kgs. Any advice as to what to bring and what to leave out? I have checked out all of the packing lists and they all seem pretty similar. I'm wondering what anyone has discovered that is NOT covered by those generic lists. What did you bring that you didn't need and what did you leave home that you desperately needed?
Thanks for any input!
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:47 AM
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There are some good packing list threads that I'll look for to post later or others may do so also.

I too have suffered from luggage that did not arrive with me. In fact I would estimate about 5% of my trips have encountered delayed (fortunately never lost forever) luggage.

In order to not check luggage and take what is needed, I find myself resorting to rather extreme measures. I actually wear several layers of clothes, such as 2-3 pairs of trousers and numerous shirts. I stuff socks and underwear in all of the pockets for more room in my bag. I even wear my binoculars as a "fashion accessory" because not only must everything fit in the bag, but its weight can also be an issue.

I usually travel in economy class, which does not allow as much carry-on luggage. Plus I am almost always alone so I don't have the luxury of my travel partner taking the toiletries with me taking the camera gear, splitting up our necessities.

I do feel rather silly at times but it beats not having necessary gear when landing in remote locations with no shopping nearby.

Looks like a nice trip. Not familiar with Elephant Plains Lodge. What do you know about that one?
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 08:05 AM
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Elephant Plains is in the Sabi Sand reserve, but is a bit more moderately priced than some of the others. There was a thread under South Africa a little bit ago that said some nice things about it. I believe they have about 10-12 rondevals to stay in. Their website is www.elephantplains.co.za. It looks pretty nice and from everything I had read I had decided that we wanted to be in the Sabi Sand are if at all possible. Our travel agent agreed and found this reasonably priced camp.

Thanks for your input on clothing, I really appreciate it. I remember somewhere reading that when you are having your luggage weighed for the light aircraft, it's a good idea to be wearing your heaviest clothing. Are there ever places or times when one might leave some clothing behind? When we were in Brazil several people on our trip had bought various T-shirts as souvenirs and then donated the ones they had brought to the residents of one of the villages we visited. I typically buy T-shirts and sweatshirts as souvenirs, so I tend to take less than what I think I will need.

Looking forward to a wonderful 2 weeks!
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 08:30 AM
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I must say that the packing lists and tips on this forum were what made the difference for our trip in March to So Africa....lots of wonderful suggestions.
As an American, our exchange rate was NOT good and so we found the most expensive thing to buy were typical souvenir T-shirts....they started at $25 even for a little kids shirt. So, just be aware that the t-shirts are costly. I'm not sure if this is what you are asking but FYI: We packed light for our safari flights and then left our larger suitcases in the stored luggage area in the Joburg International terminal...18 RAND per 12 hours. We left it twice on two different legs of our itinerary. The most important tip I got from this board (for me, a contact lens wearer) was to bring goggles to wear on the safai drives. Hours of driving with the wind swirling around your eyes can be very uncomfortable. I took along cheap clear swim goggles and they worked fine; then in S.A. I found a pair of those huge overglasses used for science/safety goggles....they were even better and so I loaned out the swim goggles to grateful fellow travelers who had not heard of such a thing. The goggles were such a hit that when leaving Mala Mala,I offered them to our tracker who was thrilled to take them!! (The Mala Mala gift shop even sells swim goggles.)
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 12:54 PM
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sandi
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I'm assuming that after your time in the Delta, you'll be returning to JNB for your homebound flight. If that is the case, and so as not to feel frustrated in your total packing - store your main luggage at the JNB airport. Pack what you'd need for your entire trip (in excess of the 12Kg limit for the Delta) and include a smaller softsided bag for the items you need for your 2-days in VFA and 3-days at Nxabega. It's worth the small storage fee and it's safe enough... lots of people do this.
 
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 01:55 PM
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I agree with the wisdom to trying to avoic checked luggage, but carry on restrictions are so severe that this may not be possible. And you may want an extra bag for any goodies you want to buy in Africa. (Baskets! Carvings/Sculpture/ceramics in Vic Falls! )

Had to laugh at atravelynn's suggestions, as I am in the same situation, and have done the same things! I wear as many layers as possible! Only I put the heavy things (eg batteries) and essential toilettries in my pockets and put lighter weight socks in my carryon (which they will weigh).

But, more practical for most people:
Just make sure the stuff you take is light weight. No blue jeans-- too heavy. Polarfleece is lighter and dries faster than wool. Backpacking shops and lines often have very lightweight performance clothing that works wonderfully. (After all, backpackers have to carry EVERYTHING, so light is a major feature.) For example, Mountain Hardwear makes tshirts that weigh about 4 oz!! Try to select things for multiple use: polypro long underwear tops can be a warm layer AND your PJs. A silk scarf is very warm AND dresses up your safari outfit for dinner.
Avoid separate clothing for dressy dinners--on safari clean clothing and a local souvenir necklace is plenty "dressed up".
Camp and hotel laundry works great, so use it! ( I highly recommend Ilala's laundry-- they also removed old red wine stains from a shirt that I thought were there permanently!) The only thing that you need a few extra : thick socks don't dry quickly, so you'll need more of them.
Do a search to find some of the older threads for more packing advice...and have a great trip.

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Apr 23rd, 2005, 12:40 PM
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Thanks azmngal for the hint on goggles for contact wearers. I am unfortunately one of those who can't do Lasik so have to wear my contacts and dust realy bothers my eyes (I have to wear RPG lenses). I'll look for something like what you have suggested! That's a bummer about the exchange rate for US dollars and T-shirst. But I'll probably still buy one. We have a small house so I prefer not to bring back nicknacks that we don't have space for. Pictures and clothing is typically what I collect (and local jewelry, so I will definitely plan of not bringing any). Glad for the input on laundry (thanks for the recommendation on using it at Ilala Lodge - I might not have thought of that since we're only there 2 nights). Great tips everyone!
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Here is one thread I recall, entitled "Tips for Okavango Trip"
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34557722

One of the tips is on packing.

Zip-off pants mean you do not need to bring a pair of shorts.

I bring 2 smalltoothbrushes and 2 mini toothpastes because if I were to lose/forget one, there is no way to replace it. Once a mouse or other small animal gnawed through one tube of toothpaste so I threw that one out and still had one left.

I also bring extra inexpensive sunglasses in case I lose or break them.
The sunglasses have made great farewell gifts to guides.

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Apr 23rd, 2005, 05:57 PM
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Jcasale,
Regarding contact lenses, I have bought a pair of sunglasses/goggles that are typically sold at the big Harley Davison stores, if you have one in your area (you can also order them from a website). There are a few brands, mine are Panoptx. These are not cheap, but I figured that the safari is so expensive, that I had to try to get something to protect my eyes. I wear RGP contacts, and have a health issue that makes my eyes extremely dry and irritable. Also, I am of course bringing a pair of glasses in case my eyes become too irritated. I also have sunglasses that are meant to fit over regular glasses and sort of wrap your eyeglasses so that helps keep out the sun and wind. These are less expensive, about $30, and can order at polaroptics.com.
By the way, certainly none of these sunglasses will make you look like a movie star! But hey, I don't want to stay at the camp because of the sun and wind and dust.
We leave in six weeks. Hope you have a great trip!
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Apr 24th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...t=0&dirtyBit=1

The thread above has a very comprehensive list and discussion of safari packing tips. If this forum had a FAQs page, I'd nominate this for it...Check it out.
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Apr 25th, 2005, 04:48 AM
  #11
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The zip-off pants are definitely a plus. The problem is finding a pair that are not made out of the lightweight nylon fabric (especially if the camps are going to iron them). I got a pair of Columbia ones for Brazil and I loved them, but my camera bag pulled them into little pills on the one side. Any know of a place to get ones that are made of cotton/canvas? And thanks for the polaroptics website - they have some nice looking sunglasses that should help protect my eyes. Too bad they aren't polarized!
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Apr 25th, 2005, 05:53 AM
  #12
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jcasale -

Re the pills on the side of your pants - no problem, just get one of the "pill shavers" (I don't recall what is the actual name for these) - glide it over the pills and they're snipped off - your pants are almost as good as new. These shavers are also good for your sweaters or any other item that pills.

Otherwise, Travel Smith has the convertible pants in cotton twill at $69. Check out their website and do a search for "convertible pants." However, since they're made of cotton, I wouldn't let anyone launder these in "hot" water - I foresee shrinking on the horizon.

I still have the original convertible pant that Banana Republic made, when BR were still doing safari clothing (why they discontinued doing so is beyond me), and paid all of $39. And this pair is made better then anything I've seen since and actually fits the body like pants should rather then the current ones which are rather "unfashionable." These were so well made, that when I tried them on - considering them for upcoming trip - realized that while they fit fine over the butt and hips, needed a little more room in the waist. The manufacturer povided so much extra fabric in the rear seam (even binded the edges)/waist band, that I might just pull out the sewing machine and let out the 1/2" or so, myself. Overtime, and having these on numerous safaris, I find that I'm more comfortable in just pants or just shorts.

Check out Travel Smith.
 
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May 10th, 2005, 03:11 PM
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Tashak:

The link you posted does not connect to a packing thread. Can you recheck this?
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May 11th, 2005, 04:35 AM
  #14
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I noticed the same thing on the listed thread. Oh well - technology....

Sandi, thanks for the suggestion of Travel Smith. The pants looked nice. I ended up getting a pair from exoficio and they are nice and comfortable. They also have a long size for anyone who needs a longer inseam than normal. I accidentally ordered them and had to send them back - way too long. I'll try to shaver idea. I'm going to do a trial packing tonight - wish me luck!
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May 11th, 2005, 05:39 PM
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OK, I just finished the trial packing and I ended up with luggage weighing 24 pounds - my limit is 26 (12 kgs)! I put in every heavy thing I could think of and plenty of clothes as far as I can figure. That's even factoring in the weight of my camera which I hope to be able to just carry over my shoulder in case there are pictures to take from the plane. I will have abit more to start because I didn't factor in the xeroxed pages of the guide books for Cape Town which I will have pitched by that point and the couple of books I will have read on the plane on the way over (I don't sleep at all on planes) and given to other people or left behind. So thatnks for all of the help everyone gave. By the way, if any of you are looking for reasonable prices on pants and shirst - check out Sierra Trading Post. I got some great bargains on some wonderful shirts. And I have dicovered that even though I am a "winter" in coloring and tend to prefer bold colors, I am liking the "safari" colors! Maybe it's the more recent excess of gray hair changing my color scheme !
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May 15th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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I took a down vest on a winter (June) safari trip and loved it. It is very light weight, takes up very little space when rolled and was the extra warmth I neede on cold morning safari drives. It is also a layer that it easy to put on and take off.
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May 16th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Rei.com is also good for convertible pants and other clothes for safari. I think Eddie Bauer has some too. Also LL Bean and Lands End.
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May 23rd, 2005, 06:46 PM
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Hello,

We recently visited an Orvis outlit and found great deals - real cotton safari pants, sweaters and great bug off shirts for 1/2 price. We really loved what we found.

Store locations can be found on the web.

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May 23rd, 2005, 06:57 PM
  #19
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Check out this link:

http://www.classicafrica.com/clients...king-arigi.htm

It's a list that was personalized for me for my summer trip, but it's very comprehensive and there are several good links to suppliers.
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May 25th, 2005, 09:53 AM
  #20
TC
 
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Packing tips for Africa:

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...t=0&dirtyBit=1
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