Tanzania Safari Clothes in June

Apr 27th, 2005, 08:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 44
Tanzania Safari Clothes in June

Tena jambo.
How does a family of 4 (52M, 52F, 22F, 18F) pack for 12 days with only 33 lbs. per person? I would appreciate suggestions for:

1) exact brand/type of suitcase,
2) clothing/clothing outfitters
3) ?need dressy clothes at Ngorogoro Crater Lodge?

While I'm at it, we already bought the Panasonic DMC-FZ5 (with a 12X zoom) recommended by this board and it seems to take GREAT pictures. Is it silly to take a small laptop to download the photos?
And, I need to have similar advice on binoculars to purchase (this whole thing has gotten soooo expensive - why worry about the price of binoculars).

Asante (again),
cookndoc is offline  
Apr 28th, 2005, 03:16 AM
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cookndoc -

There are lots of threads on this board regarding safari packing, especially, if taking internal flights with weight limits. Do a search in the box on the top of the page - input "safari clothing" and various threads will appear in the left column which you can then read.

We too will be traveling - end-May/begin-June - have to consider that while the mid-day temps should be mild - in the 70s, the evenings/nights and mornings will be chilly (if not cold) so you'll need a jacket or heavy sweater; pack a thermal T. It's also recommended you pack a scarf (a pashmina also works well on your Intl flights) and gloves. Of course, socks.

You really don't need much clothing, as you can have laundry done at most camps/lodges (especially if staying 2-days or more at any) for a small fee, or at some places, even free. They don't, however, do "wears", though some people have gotten a pair or two through. So a few pair of long or crop pants and t-shirts (long & short sleeve); 1-pr shorts; consider the convertible pants that zip off above the knee giving you shorts. Not all that fasionable, but practical and two-4-one. While sleep Ts are good in warm weather, you may feel more comfy in PJs or sweats as sleep attire. Avoid jeans unless they've been washed to the barest thread - otherwise they weigh a lot in luggage, and can be uncomfortable if wearing on Intl flights.

You can check out the specialty catelogs/websites of TravelSmith, Magellans, REI but many of their clothing is made of combination fabrics which some people are allergic, but take a look. Overall, you find that people wear and re-wear the same clothing - everyone is limited so it's actually "de riguer."

At Crater Lodge, some women may choose to wear slinky spaghetti strap dresses with thongs, but these aren't always practical since it's also suggested you use insect repellent on exposed skin. However, at 7000' altitude, "mossies" aren't much an issue. Or a pair of black slacks with a great sweater or dynamite costume jewelry or bright scarf work well.

If you don't already have soft-sided duffle bags, check: www.ebags.com - with a large selection. Check out the 30" duffle with the "ebags" name, at only $25. I actually borrowed mine/ours from a Fodorite who made her trip last year (Aug/Sept) for almost 3-week trip including R&R on Mnemba Island at the conclusion of their safari time. She claimed to have been able to pack whatever she needed into this and only carried a small backpack as her carry-on for camera and misc. stuff.

So check previous threads for ideas.

I too went for a digital - fighting and fussing as I'm not sure this is the way to go - still will have my 35mm 140zoom as back-up - got the Fuji S5100 which is 10X Optical.

... we'd love to see your entire itinerary - please list so we know what the "whole enchaelada" looks like!
Apr 28th, 2005, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,536
Howard - Sandi is right about it all.

The camps will do laundry so take pants/shirts/socks/undies for 3 days only. (Of course, you won’t believe that so only put in ONE more change of clothes and you’ll have 4. After you get there you’ll realize you don’t wear all 4) I like to dress nicely on the plane so if I want to dress for dinner I have those clothes. (I never do.) I have bought all the safari clothes I use at Acadamy sports store – all Columbia brand. I do have the cotton rather than synthetic and I like what I have.

Take a pair of boots/shoes for game drives and a pair of sandals/flip flops for wearing around the room/camp. If you can wear either one on the plane and just pack the other, then better for you. So 2 pairs of shoes.

Take a jacket (lightweight quilted or fleece), gloves, hat and scarf. These shouldn’t weigh much and will squish nicely in your luggage.

Add sleepwear (remember they do laundry so only bring 2 pairs) and toiletries and you are covered for dressing and getting ready each day.

Add the miscellaneous stuff. Some of the things I take are bug spray, sunscreen, sunglasses, extra pair of eye glasses, hat/cap, electric converter/adaptors, luggage locks (I use in rooms/tents), small spiral notebook for notes about trip, strong beam flashlight. I always pack my clothes in the 2 gallon size zip lock bags. 1 day per bag and all the socks & undies in one. Toiletries in 1 gallon size etc. It’s easy to pack with them and your clothes stay relatively wrinkle free and if there is any leakage or rain, everything is still dry.

First aid kit – I take one but I’ve never used anything out of it except the sinus pills (knock-wood). I usually take anti-diarrhea pills (Imodium AD or similar), Pepto-Bismol, aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, for muscle aches and toothache), allergy/sinus pills, Band-Aids, antibiotic cream, cortisone cream (or other anti-itch cream for rashes, allergic reactions to plants and bug bites), moleskin (for blisters), laxative, antihistamine tablets, anti-malaria pills, antibiotic pills, and prescription medicine.

I take cameras, CF cards, batteries, battery chargers, portable harddrive, laptop and any other stuff I could not survive without in a carry on in case the checked luggage gets lost.

I always have two cameras with me so I don’t take binoculars but you need one pair per person.

I bought a duffle bag last year and bought by weight. The lightest one I found was an Eddie Bauer duffle bag. It’s on sale thru May 8th at $37. The one I linked is a 30” and I bought the 36” because my monopod wouldn’t fit in the 30” but I could have used the 30” easily without the monopod.


Unless your family has “packed light” before it will probably be hard for them to do. Have them pack early. I don’t actually put it in the suitcase until the day before but I have it all layed out ready to pack a week before. (Most of the stuff you take won’t be needed the week before the trip.) The 3 days clothes (or 4!), socks & undies, everything in the ziplock bags. Minimize the makeup/deodorant/hairbrushes/blowdryers etc. Make a list of the last minute things to throw in the bags so you aren’t going crazy trying to remember everything. You’ll see that 33 lbs per person is really more than you need. Of course, the person carrying the first aid kit and cameras/accessories has the most stuff but it will still be under 33 lbs.

Have a great trip!
sundowner is offline  
Apr 28th, 2005, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Oops! I didn't buy Eddie Bauer, I got the one from LLBean. The large 30" weighs 2 lb 4 oz and it comes in all those great colors. It's more expensive than the EB but I was so concerned about weight (my camera bag weighed between 25 - 30 lbs) that I bought it because it was lightest. The link is too long so go to

and search for Adventure Duffle and then pick "starting at $29.00"
sundowner is offline  
Apr 28th, 2005, 07:29 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I'll address the laptop question, except for saying I love zip-off pants that become shorts.

First, I don't own a laptop so my response my be unduly biased against it.

The weight of it is one strike against it, but the laptop's presence seemed to be a distraction for those who brought it. So much time was spent not only downloading pictures but enhancing them and doing slide shows and calling everyone around to see the slide shows and comparing results, and even watching movies and other stuff on the laptop.

Rather than enjoy the surroundings of the lodge or camp that took a sizeable investment of time and money, the laptoppers were huddled around their technology.

Plus it takes more electricty, which can be a hassle.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 28th, 2005, 08:00 AM
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atravelynn - I haven't seen that happen and it would surely be distracting!

I did download and edit my pictures with my laptop but only in my room when I really should have been napping.

I will confess to showing a slide show but it was after a group of us had checked out and were waiting in the lounge for time to drive to the plane.

I agree with your comments and although I will continue to carry my laptop for storage of images, I'll keep them to myself.
sundowner is offline  
Apr 28th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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The worst laptop offenses were not in Africa, but other remote and wild locations.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 28th, 2005, 04:07 PM
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On to the binocs comment/question.

While you don't need to run out and buy a pair of Swarovskis, I would not skimp here. Decent binoculars make your sizeable investment in the safari pay off by allowing you to view and enjoy what you came to see. Also I accept that good binoculars will add some weight to the luggage. Real light ones may not have the power you need. That's why I mentioned previously that I will wear them around my neck on flights to save space and weight in my bags.

I have 10 x 40. The 10 is the magnification. 10 is high, but I do quite a bit of wildlife viewing in addition to Africa. You would not want anything less than 8 or maybe 7. The 40 is the diameter of the big lenses. Higher means more light comes in and the viewing area is larger. This is helpful to locate what you're looking at.

I have had binoculars that were something like 12 x 20. The added magnification does not make up for the smaller viewing field in my opinion. It was much harder to locate the subject.

To save money, try buying some second hand well in advance of your trip. Unlike a camera, that might malfunction later, if the binoculars work when you get them, they'll be fine for the trip.

If you wear glasses or sunglasses, get the eye cup feature.

A good strap also helps. Get the kind with elasticity. I actually have a halter-type strap to take strain off my neck and love it. It is a bit complicated to initially put on the binoculars so I had the sales guy do it, and there's no need to ever take it off.

One last binocular comment--everybody gets their own pair, including spouses. Sharing is no good in this case.

Have a great trip!
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 29th, 2005, 01:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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All advice you have been given is great, and from people more experienced than I am! I just wanted to add what I personally wore on our June 2003 Tanzania/Kenya trip. Particular comment - layers!

Mornings were cold. I had a windbreaker (wind and waterproof, small, light!), fleece or long-sleeved shirt and T-shirt, convertible pants, comfortable shoes (we have "approach" shoes, running shoes would be fine). As the day progressed I peeled, ending up in T-shirt and pants by mid-day (only once took the legs off to make shorts so dont know if the convertibles were really necessary). By evening I was pretty much back where I had started - at least at a long-sleeved stage.

Take a really good hat. We have Tilley Hats - expensive, but worth the money since we hike etc. also. The full brim, as opposed to baseball-style, was excellent and I actually found that the shade was so good from the brim I didnt need to wear sunglasses - which made taking pictures and using binoculars much easier.

On the binoculars subject - DEFINITELY one pair per person. We had one set of 10x35 and one 8x40. The wider field of view with 8x40 was much better- particularly if looking at things while the van was moving. They were heavier, though (not pocket size). For a low-cost binocular option you may want to look at models by Tasco (they made our 8x40s) - they will not be as good as the really high price ones, but they worked well and we could see clearly with them.

Have a great trip (wish it was us......!)
nkh is offline  
Apr 29th, 2005, 07:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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I like your attitude! (Why economize on something like binoculars when they can enhance a trip so much?

But first, I agree completely with the laptop comments! Plus even the lightest laptop is large and heavy. If you really get into digital, you'll probably want a smaller portable hard drive anyway. There is a thread (probably several) on this subject recently.

Re binoculars: I'd really try to borrow binoculars from friends or family, because buying 4 decent pair is expensive! Usually they are easier to borrow than cameras are, because people do't use them all the time. Definitely one pair for each person. Personally, I hate the compact ones, this is one area where the extra size and weight IS worth it. Sorry, the prices on these range from $ to $$$$, and it is difficult to choose. Birdwatching websites usually have the best reviews and advice.
tashak is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 02:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 646
Appreciated your post as to packing for the 33 lb max. We will be pursuing such in June when we head to southern Tanzania. Actually, I am delighted as I have been telling my two female traveling companions (wife and daughter) we take too much. As mentioned in earlier comments we plan in having laundry done at lodges (at no charge)as part of packing light. I believe the 33 lbs applies to carryon stuff as well so cameras, binocs, etc merit scrutiny. By all means each traveler should have a pair. Suggest visiting a good sporting goods store, A Cabelas store, Bass Pro shop or similar place. That way you will have a variety of makes and models to try out. We visited Cabelas near Harrisburg Pa not too long ago. Store is rather large, has mounts of all sorts of wildlfe and was good place to simulate wildlife watching. Notice how bright/dark the picture changes as you consider different models. Need not go for the more expensive ones but be sure to get one comfy to you.
I would second not bring the laptop along. Bring plenty of memory cards/sticks and enjoy the time otherwise. Also, if you have not already done so, get practice with the camera so the operation is a smooth one. It is exciting enough watching wildlife up close without having to learn the camera.
There is great advice available from this board. Have a great trip and be sure to post a report w/pics when you return.
rsnyder is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 04:56 PM
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Posts: 44
Everyone on this board is so knowledgable and helpful. We're synthesizing all of the info. As for those who are interested in our exact itinerary, I feel that many of you helped plan this trip so here goes (Sandi, will we be crossing paths?):

June 5/6 - Arusha Coffe Lodge
June 7/8 - Kirawira
June 9/10 - Mbuzi Mawe (we have been reassured that this not the old camp but is a BRAND NEW facility, just built by Serena half-way between Seronera and Lobo)
June 11/12 - flying to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
June 13/14 - Ngorogoro Crater Lodge
June 15/16 - Tarangire Treetops
June 17 - Back to Arusha
June 18 - beginning to figure out how to pay for all of this.
Wish us luck,
cookndoc is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 03:25 AM
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cookndoc -

Your itinerary looks nice and well situated for the migration moving thru the western and northern Serengeti on their way to the Mara in Kenya. Hang around the Grumeti River which moves through those areas and with your guide you should have no problem following the herds.

Our schedule will have us at Kirawira at the end of May between the 28-30, then to Zanzibar, before heading into Kenya and up to the highlands, before flying south to the Mara in mid-June.

Strangers in the night - close but missing one another by a few days. No matter this should be a fantastic experience for you and your family.

We'll just have to compare notes when we post our respective trip reports. All you have to do now is count the days and you'll be on your way before soon. Happy Travels and Wonderful Experiences!
May 2nd, 2005, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I love your June 18 activity!

Looks like a great trip. Have fun!
atravelynn is offline  
May 3rd, 2005, 08:26 AM
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My husband and I are huge fans of the Eagle Creek Switchback wheeled bags we purchased at REI -- I highly recommend them. They sell them on ebags too I think. They are 22x14x9 in. which is carry-on size (we never, ever check luggage). They were on the pricier side but are durable, have held up beautifully for 6+ years and countless trips, and are the only bags we ever take with us, whether for a weekend or 3 weeks. They have a zip-off daypack/backpack (which we often zip off for plane travel, and put the main bag in the overhead bin, and put the zip-off daypack underneath the seat in front of us with reading material, water, etc.) -- plus the main bag itself converts to a backpack (to be honest I rarely use this feature, although I used it a lot in Positano on the Amalfi coast where everything is up & down stairs). They also happen to be a khaki color which we really like because it doesn't show dirt and is different -- we can tell at a glance which bags are ours among all of the other black ones that most people have. The wheels roll really easily and smoothly. Regardless of which brand you end up going with, make sure the dimensions add up to a total of 45 inches or less in order to qualify as carry-ons and fit in the overhead bins. I also strongly recommend soft-sided luggage rather than hard, partly because soft-sided tends to be lighter and more flexible in squeezing into bins and under seats, although I know some prefer otherwise. You can see the bag here http://www.rei.com/product/47851221....SHP_TRAVEL_TOC
They have less expensive models too, including some that are lighter in weight -- and of course there are lots of other good brands too.

We took these bags with us last year to Thailand for almost 3 weeks, the year before to South Africa for 2 weeks, the year before that to Australia and New Zealand for 2 weeks, and to Costa Rica, Mexico, etc. And we will bring them with us in November to Tanzania. After every trip we make a list of things we brought that we didn't use. We travel lighter each time -- and we still bring too much!

A few packing tips. Shoes are heavy. We try to only bring one pair of shoes other than what we wear on the plane (we both have lightweight hiking shoes that are comfortable for walking and breathe even though they are waterproof -- I think we got these at REI too). Sometimes I can't resist bringing a third pair of shoes though (a light pair of sandals like Tevas, or flip-flops that hardly take up any space, for wearing around the room or at the pool). Don't let any space in the suitcase go unused -- e.g. pack your socks inside of your shoes. We usually pack 2 or 3 pairs of pants other than what we wear on the plane, and have laundry done along the way someplace. Khaki cargo pants with pockets are great for stashing extra rolls of film on game drives. My husband likes the kind with zip-off legs, which he also got at REI, so he can convert them from pants to shorts when it's hot out (they make these for women too). For shirts, just bring layers. Don't bring any bulky sweaters or coats -- just use lots of thinner layers which take up less space. On game drives I like to wear a cotton tank top or short-sleeved T-shirt with a long-sleeved T-shirt over it, and sometimes a windbreaker or jacket over that on chillier mornings. REI sells good windbreakers, some waterproof, that stuff into a tiny stuffsack or some that fold up into their own pocket. You can also find safari-style jackets, hats, and photo vests there. We like REI for many of these kinds of clothes, because we have one near us and I like their website too -- although obviously you can get cotton T-shirts almost anywhere -- and if you are the kind of person who likes to buy t-shirts on vacation as souvenirs, then that's one fewer t-shirt that you need to bring with you to begin with. Natural fabrics that breathe, in natural colors (tan-olive-khaki-brown-grey) are best. Denim tends to be heavy although I do have one pair of khaki-colored pants made of a lightweight stretch denim that I love because the dirt just brushes right off of them and I can wear them over and over. Eddie Bauer and LL Bean are also good sources for clothes. In a 12-day trip we would probably have laundry done twice (about every fourth day).

Experiment with packing methods that work best for you. My husband rolls all of his clothes. I fold mine. Everybody is different.

The rule of thumb is to put out everything you think you need to bring with you, then bring only half the clothes, and twice the film. (Variation: half the clothes and twice the money.)

Bring as few toiletries as you can. Every trip I bring less. And no blow drier. Very little jewelry and nothing that I would hate to lose. No perfume! A hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and sunglasses are a must. I also find eyedrops to be a must, particularly when the dust is bad (and especially for anyone who wears contact lenses). Don't bring much if anything in the way of "dressy" clothes. For dinner, about the dressiest we would get is my husband will wear a pair of khaki pants with a cotton collared shirt, and I will wear a pair of black pants with a lightweight, long-sleeved cotton or silk sweater. Most people are dressed very casually in these places, and at least in South Africa we found that khaki safariwear was "de rigeur" even at dinner (everyone is dealing with the same luggage restrictions, after all).

I would not bring a laptop...
And I will be a rare dissenter on the binocs issue. In South Africa, my husband and I shared ours, which are very compact and inexpensive Bruntons (around $99, waterproof & fogproof -- also from REI) and were just fine. One or both of us were usually looking through the viewfinders on our cameras or digital videocam, with excellent zooms, so we didn't need the binocs that often. I would definitely bring at least one pair, and with 4 of you I would say you would probably want 2 -- but I don't think each of you necessarily needs your very own or the very best. The one warning I have is that if you ask drivers what are the most commonly left-behind items by travellers, they will tell you sunglasses, hats, and binoculars (and this has been my personal experience as well!). So you have to decide for yourself...

Have a great time!
lisa is offline  
May 3rd, 2005, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'll just weigh in with my 2 cents on the dressing up issue. I didn't bring anything 'dressy' to wear other than what I wore on the plane and packed for our Paris stopover. All of those items turned out to be much too warm to wear in Kenya. In retrospect, I wish that I'd brought just one dress suitable for warmer climates. At one of the camps where we stayed, most of the ladies did dress up at night. I got tired of wearing long pants/long sleeve shirt every evening and longed for a sleeveless silk dress and a pair of sandals It turned out that bugs were much less of an issue that I'd thought. Having been to some other parts of the world where I was literally 'eaten alive' by bugs (that's how I imagined Kenya to be), I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was nowhere near as bad as I imagined. So I'll be adding the above mentioned items to my packing list for November
Patty is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 04:41 AM
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Like Patty, I too prefer to "dress" for the evening. Safari clothing gets "old" at a point; and being completely covered doesn't quite cut it for me. While I haven't gone the spaghetti-strap slip dress route myself, I often have a smart pair of slacks with a great sweater or body suit and colorful shawl. I've also worn a long skirt with a ballet t-top w/shawl. But it's not recommended to wear perfume or aftershave - no sweet smells to attract any flying objects.

Do remember though that for travel in June, the nights will be chilly/cold, so consider that even if you want to pass on long/long/long, you'll need something for warmth on top of whatever you choose to wear for walking outdoors to the dining area -whether if staying at a lodge, especially if staying at a camp.

Don't forget your repellent on exposed skin (wash off before retiring for bed) and malaria meds.

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