On my overland trip, I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya all the way to Johannesburg, South Africa over 46 days. With the distance covered on that journey, the weather can vary dramatically, especially the temperatures from day to night. I am also here to beat that dead horse and tell you not to overpack! Now, this may sound appalling if you haven’t taken this type of trip before, but you will wear the same outfit multiple days in a row. You may not believe me now, and that’s ok, but you just wait!
The quantity of each item you pack is at your own discretion, plus remember what I said about back-to-back (to-back-to-back) outfits! You will also have opportunities to do laundry at least once per week.
- Long sleeve shirt
- Tank tops
- Bathing suit
- Sarong-can double as bath towel, beach towel, scarf, skirt, the list goes on…
- Gloves (the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania was frigid in August especially at night)
- Socks (hiking and sneaker)
- Flip Flops
- Hiking boots are not a bad idea if there is trekking on your itinerary (i.e. Gorilla trekking in Uganda)
Keep in mind, you will be stopping at proper shopping establishments every few days at a minimum to buy food for meals, so you are able purchase and replenish items as needed. Beyond that, you probably have a good idea what types of toiletries you need on any trip! I would also recommend a small mesh bag to bring items into the shower.
A few of these items are Acacia Africa specific and may not apply to other overland companies
- Sleeping bag-I brought a tropical weather sleeping bag and had nights where I was too hot and nights were I was freezing cold. You can buy extra blankets on arrival for those cold nights
- Sleeping bag liner (for those nights where your sleeping bag is too hot)
- Pillow-you can buy this once you arrive to save space in your bag
- Head lamp with extra batteries
- Clothes line-I like this one because you don’t need clothes pins. You will also encounter opportunities to pay for laundry service
- A combination lock with a thin shackle–These worked like a charm
- Quick dry travel towel-I use this one. I’ve never seen a towel dry so fast, despite weather conditions.
- Camera-now I am no expert on cameras, but I definitely recommend any sort of camera that can allow you to zoom. On safari, you are not always able to get close to the animals, aka “iPhone range.”
- A South African outlet adaptor and a 12 volt car charger-for all of your charging needs on the truck
- Reusable water bottle-at least one liter, like a Nalgene
- Backpack without a frame-you need flexibility to squish it into your locker
- A small day backpack-occasionally you will spend nights away from the truck and it will be easier to pack a small bag than lug your entire backpack along
- Sunscreen-wear it everyday! Pack it with you because you may not find your tried and true brands
- Bug spray-though you can find some on the road, I had trouble finding any repellent with DEET. I did try some of the natural blends which worked surprisingly well for me.
You know yourself best and can generally assess what you will need for first aid. I tend to think I am less accident prone than I am and tend to under pack in the first aid realm. Aside from your typical bandaids and ibuprofen, I will enlighten you with the situations I found myself in.
- Mosquito bites galore: malaria pills, anti-itch cream, insect repellent, Benadryl (I had a much more severe reactions to these mosquitos than American mosquitos!)
- The shits: Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, Cipro (prescription in USA), rehydration packets. You may have long drive days without proper facilities to relieve yourself
- Blisters: in fact, the worst blisters of my life. Granted, I accidentally fell in a river while hiking. Wet feet + walking = horrible blisters. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared! Second skin, blister bandaids, gauze, topical antibiotic, antibacterial wipes. Keep open wounds clean!
- African Black Wasp Stings: let me first describe the pain. I was blessed with two simultaneous stings. It felt like someone jabbed a rusty nail in my leg (above knee and behind knee, same leg) and lit them on fire. The pain was shocking and never subsided for the rest of the day. It continually burned and stung. Each sting swelled up to about the size of an orange and formed a blister. Over-the-counter pain killers, Benadryl, topical anti-histamine, epi-pen (if you are allergic!)
After this trip, I am always sure to pack more bandages than I think I will need, because I always find a way to ensure I use them.
As a last note in terms of packing: the lockers on the Acacia truck will allow you to take all of your items out of the backpack and utilize the locker like a closet. I definitely recommend packing cubes to keep you organized. I particularly like these by Eagle Creek. They are thin and compressible which are perfect for a backpack. If you are lucky and the trip isn’t completely full, you may score an extra locker!
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