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Packing for your African Safari in Uganda or Rwanda

Posted by on December 5, 2017

Pack Light and Right with the Essentials for your Safari in Uganda – Rwanda

Packing for your African Safari – that includes Gorilla – Chimpanzee Trekking – Hiking – Climbing

Packing for your African Safari in Uganda and Rwanda is different than packing for a Wildlife Safari in the Packing for your African Safarirest of Africa.  In both Countries, a major focus is Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Golden Monkey and other Primate Treks.

There are also the Hikes such as through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Volcano Climbs in both countries. 

Packing for a Safari in Uganda and Rwanda depends on the activities that you will be doing and the time of the year that you will be visiting Uganda or Rwanda.

Many people pack the wrong things for the activities they will be partaking in, yes, you are in Equatorial Africa – but you are coming to trek Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Hiking, Climbing, Wildlife Game Drives, not a day on the Beach, though we can include that in both Rwanda and Uganda.

You are preparing for your Safari in Uganda and Rwanda.  The words light and right should be foremostpacking-for-safari-uganda-rwanda on your mind and most important.  It all begins with a suitcase or duffel bag.

Tough Safari Duffel Bags are just right and be sure to pack a day-pack for hikes, nature walks, gorilla, chimpanzee treks, even when going on game drives you can take all the important things with you.

Bulky suitcases are awkward even though you will have plenty of help from the staff at lodges and in our case your driver-guide.

Most people pack a lot more than they will ever need,  think of what activities you will partake in and what you will need to have with you on that activity such as gorilla or chimpanzee tracking, walking or hiking safaris,  Rwenzori Mountain Foothill or Volcano Hikes, and other things you will be doing.

One also has to consider the Weather and Climate of Uganda and Rwanda, the times of year it is and whether it is the rainy or dry season.

Many of the upmarket Safari Lodges give you shampoo, soap, but it is a good thing to pack a bar of soap in a plastic container.  Most Lodges offer Laundry Services and in most instances, it is same day service for a nominal fee.  Please keep in mind that most laundry will be washed by hand using a strong detergent (most detergents contain phosphates here) – your clothes often will be ironed with charcoal heated (in the bush) iron – in other words, no delicate designer style clothing, they will get ruined. (undergarments –best wash them yourself while on safari-there are strong taboos against washing someone’s undergarments)

Put all the important items into your carry-on which can be your day-pack – camera, binocular any other valuable item – this is for safety and security.

Pack right – for the activities that you are going to do while on Safari with us.

Packing for your African Safari in Uganda or Rwanda – Gorilla – Chimpanzee Trekking – Hiking – Climbing – Wildlife Game Drives

Start with Safari – Luggage –  Duffel Bag – Mobility is the Keyword:

Suitcases with wheels are harder to store –a good safari duffel bags are the best choice – use combination locks on your luggage since you might lose the keys and hen have to break the ones on your luggage.

If you have nothing else, or maybe  prefer a suitcase it is fine with us – it is your choice and since you will be on a private safari there is no question of storing your luggage in the vehicle unless you are taking a flying safari in Uganda.

Some Duffel Bags come with wheels for easy handling, You will not have to carry your luggage once you are on safari.

The duffel bag gives you that added mobility on safari and it can easily be stored and makes packing for your African Safari a lot easier.

Pack or wear a Daypack for Gorilla – Chimpanzee Treks- Hikes-Climbs:

A waterproof daypack comes in handy since even on a safari drive you can put various things into it. You can use it on game drives and keep your important documents there unless you lock them up in the lodge safe.

On a hike, nature walk, gorilla or chimpanzee trek a day-pack is a must to have where you can carry your needed water, lunch, snacks and anything else you might need.

You can make the daypack your carry-on luggage traveling here to Africa  and then you do not have to pack it.  It is best to pack your essentials for the first day of Safari Activities in case of lost luggage and not cause any delay in the Safari.

Pack – Wear a Money Belt: 

It is best usto e one made of cotton so you can wear it next to your body and does not cause sweating is best for your comfort.  It is nice to wear a loose shirt over it for security.

Money Belts worn over clothing and visible to people may leave you vulnerable, though they are readily available in stores.  They can be slashed and stolen, while money belts under-clothing are more secure.

Make sure it has a place for a passport or a copy of it – also include emergency phone numbers – International Immunization Card – keep that with the passport.  Best to have it on you when you arrive or in the carry-on.

The need for money belts on Safari has diminished over the years as one can carry less cash and one can use ATM Machines, we still recommend it, or keep all important items including money in daypack that is always with you

Safari Clothing to Pack:

You may have read about avoiding bright colors while on Safari.  That applies to safari activities. While relaxing at dinner you just might want to add a dash of color.

Neutral colors are best during the day and for safari activities where you should avoid bright colors, such colors tend to alert wildlife and distract them and attract insects.

Blue shirts and black shirts or tops are not recommended in Uganda or Rwanda on the Savanna during the daytime since they attract the pesky Tsetse flies. Stick to neutral colors such as khaki, light-brown, green and tan.

  • Long Trousers – though light and neutral colors are recommended, jeans are great,  – they show the dirt less and offer extra protections during nature walks, hikes, gorilla and chimpanzee tracking.  Zip-on Trousers are used by many. Though you will be in the tropics, protecting your skin is most important
  • Long-Sleeved shirts or tops – for protection against insects, on walking safaris, gorilla and chimpanzee treks they offer protection against cuts from branches, vines, thorns, nettles, insects. Use wrinkle free items especially with shirts.
  • Socks – cotton or wool socks are good – they also offer protection.
  • Shorts: We all love them but if you go on a nature walk, hike, gorilla trek don’t use them – wear them back at the Lodge –we would not recommend wearing them at night unless you have sprayed yourself silly with insect repellent.
  • Hat –wide-brimmed hat is good to pack – you can actually buy one in Uganda at crafts stands– including straw hats that will keep the sun out, protect the face and neck.
  • Underwear:  Buy some detergent in small packets, available most everywhere, especially in small shops and wash it in your room, there is a taboo against washing other people’s undergarments and we do not use a washing machine, same applies to Bras.
  • Pajamas:  They will come in handy in places such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or in the highlands of Rwanda where it gets quite cold at night.
  • Bathing suit:  Pools are found mainly at up-market lodges, there are a few places where moderately priced hotels have swimming pools.  You can swim in Lake Bunyonyi, Lake Mutanda in Uganda, Lake Kivu in Rwanda which are Bilharzia free and have no crocodiles or hippos.
  • Light Rain Jacket:  Even during the dry season you can have a rain-shower-in the Rainforests like Kibale Forest and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon foothills – Volcano Climbing.  In Rwanda, a rain-jacket is recommended in Nyungwe Forest and Volcanoes National Park for hikes and trekking.
  • Sweater:  In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Volcanoes National Park it will come in handy in the evening and early morning.
  • One better dress or Slacks and shirt:  If you are staying one or two nights in Kampala or Kigali and when going out there for dinner, wear something nice that is not part of your safari attire – you get a lot more respect from Africans when you wear something celebratory and not a T-Shirt and Shorts. Ugandans and Rwandans in Kigali, Kampala, Entebbe like to dress “smart.”

Shoes – Boots Sandals: 

Leave the color white at homes when it comes to shoes, except if you are going to wear them in Kampala.  White sneakers, shoes simply show the red clay dust of Africa and cleaning them becomes quite the chore.

In Kampala, Entebbe, Kigali if going out, wear shoes and make sure they are shined – once again culturally you get a lot more respect.  Make sure that all of your shoes are worn in and will not cause you discomfort on the safari, especially boots used while Gorilla, Chimp Tracking, nature walks, hikes, volcano and Rwenzori Mountains foothill hikes.

  • Light-weight hiking Boots:  Bring a well-worn in pair of light hiking boots for nature walks, birding hikes, gorilla treks, chimpanzee treks, hikes, and more, they simply provide great protection.  Some people like to wear them most of the day, they give you ankle support, protection and traction when you need it.  The sole of your boots will also protect you from thorns.
  • One pair of good shoes:  You will need one pair of good shoes for town, any occasion where it may be appropriate to wear be.
  • Sandals:  They are great around the lodge and comfortable.
  • Flip-Flops:  Come in handy around your room – going to the pool where there is one. Please note you cannot wear flip-flops going out in Rwanda
  • Extra Shoelaces: You never know when you will need them.

Safari Necessities you might need:

Be prepared – pack the safari necessities that you need and there are various ones listed below.  When it comes to insect repellent – you might feel better if you have a bottle of RID – you can buy it on-line but not in a store in the USA, you can in the UK.  It is made in Australia.  RID works against Mosquitoes and Tsetse Flies.

A lot of things we are necessities – though sold in gadget, travel stores are not.

One Gadget  that comes in Handy is a reading light, beside lamps are often missing –  what to read – try one of out Gorilla Reads.

  • Your prescriptions medicines – they should include a copy of actual prescriptions in case you need a refill or some other reason. This includes any antibiotics given to you by your doctor, travel clinic, anti-Malaria regiment.
  • Insect Repellent – RID is the best all-around repellent since it works against both mosquitoes and tsetse flies.   RID can be bought on-line. Buy the kind orf repellent that you can also apply on clothes.
  • Citronella Soap – it is there but you might have to look at and again acts as an insect repellent.  Ant-Bacterial soaps are available in most stores such as Lifebuoy or Protex.
  • Wipes –Hand Sanitizers – You can buy them here, but they will be higher in price since they are imported and have duties on them. They come in quite handy while in the vehicle and where no water is available to wash your hands.
  • Sun-Blocker Cream -Uganda- Rwanda is equatorial Africa and the sun shines bright here – best protect yourself.
  • Polarized Sunglasses –a good pair in a case for protection
  • Extra Glasses – just in case.
  • Swiss Army Knife  – or a good replica with scissors
  • Malaria Tablets – Malarone is the best, Doxycycline is fine and lower in price but makes you sun-sensitive – avoid Larium also called Mefloquine which causes nightmares and other side-effects.
  • Toiletries  – a bag of what you need in regards to toiletries including soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush.
  • Small First-Aid Kit – a small first-aid kit comes in handy for a cut or any other small injury
  • Sanitary Pads if needed.
  • Medicine Bag – a bag that has all of your medications, vitamins, supplement, diarrhea treatment such as over the counter Dukorol (just in case) and more.

Safari Photography Equipment and Gadgets:

Here are some items that most think necessary while on Safari.  Forget most of those Airport Store Travel items – most of them are not necessary. If you are bringing a tablet, smart phone, laptop – think about surge protection while you are in Africa.

  • Camera and associated equipment – Take a good camera with you and all the items that go with it.  protect your lens from dust and have a lens cleaner with you – it is good to use a camera bag and even better to cover the camera with a sealable plastic bag. Taking pictures of gorillas and chimpanzees takes a bit of work, here are some tips.
  • Batteries – Bring a complete extra set of chargeable batteries along with your charger – bring the cigarette lighter connection for your charger so that you can charge your batteries in the safari vehicle.
  • Memory Cards for Camera – Bring extra memory cards with you in case you are taking a lot of pictures and also have a backup.
  • Binoculars – There are good binoculars available – it depends on what you like, if you are a birder and other factors.
  • Electrical Items – The voltage is 220 to 240 Uganda, British Plugs are used-most lodge have electrical strips where you can charge your camera – in Rwanda is a European plugin
  • Journal – Keep a Safari Journal – it enhances your experience
  • Flashlight – The African wild is dark at night – at times in some places the generators are turned off – others have solar lights and kerosene lanterns – it is simply smart to have a flashlight – keep it on the light side.

What to Wear Gorilla Trekking:

The right clothing for a Gorilla Trek is important. We recommend dressing for protection against nettles, thorns, branches.  Gorilla Trekking takes place in the Virunga Volcanoes or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and being comfortable is most important.

Wearing shorts, or a tank top in Equatorial Africa might seem right to a Visitor to Africa, we suggest that you look at what Rangers, Trackers, Porters are wearing, clothing that will Protect them against annoyances, that includes having the right footwear since you will need traction.

When you are packing consider the activities you Will Be doing.

What to Wear Chimpanzee Trekking:

What to wear on Hiking – Climbing Safaris:

In Case of Lost Luggage – Here is Plan B:

It rarely happens, but it does happen.  Here are suggestions for your safari to keep going in spite of lost luggage.  On our side, we are dealing with Gorilla and Chimpanzee Permits, Safari Lodge Bookings.  Many things that the day of a safari or before are hard to change since they are locked in.

Plan B – is be ready for anything – we give you advice about carry-on luggage and what to wear on the plane.  You are not headed for a fashion show but a safari in Uganda or Rwanda and you are ready…

Your missing or lost luggage is usually brought to you in one or two days.  We arrange that it is brought to the lodge where you are staying .

Lost Luggage – resort to Plan B

Pack with Purpose:  If you have  any spare room left – take a few children books, deflated soccer balls, dolls, even stethoscope, t-shirts, crayons, colored pencils,  to give away during your time in Uganda.  Such things will be greatly appreciated.

Wh at not to take on Safari to Rwanda:  Please note that plastic shopping bags, sacks, are not allowed in Rwanda.  If you are driving with us into Rwanda from Uganda – customs checks for plastic bags.  Uganda now has a law against plastic bags but they area still widely in use.

I f you have any questions about Packing for your African Safari – Please Contact us

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