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All the Tanzania safari tips we wish we knew before we left

We took a three-week Tanzania safari trip for our honeymoon. We did all the research, and perused every safari packing list, and yet we still found ourselves in the middle of the Serengeti wishing we had brought a few things.

So here are all the Tanzania safari tips we either were glad to have known or we wished someone had told us…

Safari bags and weight limits:

What kind of bags to bring

Olympia 26″ Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag

Definitely invest in a squishy duffel bag with wheels if you don’t have one already. We used these bags — one 22 inch and one 26 inch duffle.

We also found it easier than expected to make the weight limit. While we loved having extra space in our bags (packing between camps was a breeze), next time, we’ll be a little less disciplined. If you want to bring that electric beard trimmer, or one nicer outfit, go for it.

Packing cubes are awesome!

Gonex Compression Packing Cubes

Did you know this already? Because we’d never used them before until a friend of ours, who had just gone on a Tanzania safari trip, recommended them. And now I don’t think I’ll ever NOT use them. You can organize all your shirts in one cube, pants in another, undies in another, and then compress them, AND it keeps things from getting wrinkled. Order some.

What to wear on safari:

TWO pairs of long pants

Chelsea Wide Leg Pants | Chelsea Cargo Pants

Megan brought two pants (shown above) to change between, but Mike only brought one pair of long pants and one pair of shorts. Most camps/lodges/resorts offer free laundry, but only if you’re there that whole day. Some days are travel days, so you skip a laundry day. Not the end of the world, but you’re going to sweat a lot, so you need some options. And often times long pants are better (for bug bites of sun protection) than shorts.

Rain gear if you’re going to a tsetse fly area

This is what I looked like all the time in Tsetse fly areas.

Here’s our Best Tip Ever for dealing with tsetse flies… They’re awful, their bite hurts, and (if you’re sensitive like Megan) they can leave painful welts. They also don’t care about how many layers you have one, they’ll bite through your thickest pants and your shirt and sweat shirt. The one thing they couldn’t bite through: Those lightweight rain shells. For more info, check out this post.

Types of hats

Look at us with our mostly enclosed vehicle and our floppy hats — we were so unaware of what was to come.

Skip the wide-brimmed hats and bring a ball cap. We found that the car rides are just too windy for wide-brimmed hats. And if you’re like Megan and you get cold easily, bring a beanie for the colder morning and late evening drives.

A “nice enough for group dinner” outfit

Because we were afraid of bag weight limits, we both left our nice clothes at home. I didn’t realize that we’d be spending some evenings dining with people who actually brought dress clothes. Megan was the only honeymooning female on the trip that didn’t have at least one cute dress to wear at dinner. So ladies: bring at least one nice dress or top if you want, and men same goes for you. Mike wishes he’d brought a couple nicer button down shirts or polo shirts.

Extra things to pack:

Binoculars


This was a last-minute purchase for us, and we were SO glad to have them. But make sure to bring one for each person, or you’ll be constantly fighting over the one pair. We brought two of these, which were perfectly sized, but we wish were a little stronger.

Cameras and lenses

We went into this trip stressing about everything else but taking photos. We did, about a week before we left, decide to rent a nice camera, but they provided us with a pretty cheap lens. Which means all our photos of far-away animals are not as crisp and well-lit as we wish they were. If you’re going to go through the trouble of lugging a nice camera, don’t skimp on the lens.

To-go coffee mug

CamelBak Forge Travel Mug

Most camps and lodges did this thing where they brought you coffee or tea or hot chocolate as your “wake up call.” This was an awesome way to encourage you to actually wake up early. But it also would have been safari trip perfection to bring a warm cup of coffee with you on that cold early morning game drive. If you do this, make sure you bring a very spill-proof tumbler — something like this.

Money and tipping:

Tanzania uses US dollars everywhere. Once you’re in the safari system, that’s the currency. We only saw a Tanzanian shillings a few times. Here’s the thing: They only take bills from 2006 and later, and it’s brutally hard to make change. So five dollar bills were extremely useful in particular. We also, for some reason, we barely brought any extra cash over what we planned out for tips for our guides ($30 a day). It would have saved us a lot of stress to bring more cash, and the fact that it was all in US dollars meant we wouldn’t have even had to worry about exchange rates. So if we came home with cash we didn’t spend, big deal!

Pack for a Purpose:

My favorite part of packing for our honeymoon safari in Tanzania were the toys and school supplies for Pack for a Purpose.

This was one of our favorite things about our trip: We used the extra space in our lightly-packed bags to bring charitable donations to local villages. For more information on how you can do this too, check out this post.

Now you’ve heard our safari tips, we’re dying to know what kind of things you wish YOU would have known before your safari trip…

Mike and Megan Horowitz

Megan and Mike are writers that live in LA. They love to travel and eat, and then share their experiences doing both.

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