Backpacking Africa: What do I need to pack?
Although it may seem fairly simple to pack for backpacking Africa holiday, you will find that packing is well… not that simple.
Spread everything you are planning on taking, out on your bed. Then put half of it back in the cupboard and take the other half with you and you will probably still find at the end of your backpacking Africa trip that there are things you didn’t use. Try and think of it this way… the more space you have, the more awesome souvenirs you can take home from your experience backpacking Africa!
The bottom line is to pack clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, that are easy to wash and dry and don’t need to be ironed. Consider leaving it behind after your trip and if you can live without it, it is the right item to take on your Overland adventure!
Africa Travel Essentials:
- A backpack or soft duffel bag. Suitcases are not suitable for Overland travel.
- A small daypack
- Sleeping bag (if required).
- Roll mat or self-inflatable camping mattress (if required). Bring a spare patch and some glue!
- Sleeping sheet (to use inside your sleeping bag for extra insulation or on top of your sleeping bag in warm conditions)
- Head torch and spare batteries.
- Sun glasses
- If you wear contact lenses, bring spares. Also bring glasses as you might find the dusty dry conditions hard on your eyes.
- If you wear glasses, bring a spare pair.
- Mosquito net if you are planning on sleeping under the stars.
- Washing line – look for a pegless one – they are brilliant!
- Your normal toiletries
- Insect repellent
- Lip balm
- If you use any regular medication, please ensure you have enough to last you for the entire tour plus an extra week, just in case.
Africa Outdoor Clothes:
- Open shoes (flip flops/sandals/jandals)
- Comfortable walking/hiking shoes.
- Bathing suit/swimming shorts
- Light cotton tops/t-shirts/sleeveless tops.
- Sarong, you will find these very practical as they can be used as a towel, a skirt, a sleep sheet, you name it.
- Available all over Africa.
- Lightweight long-sleeved tops for game drives or safaris (this will protect you from mosquito’s & sunburn)
- Cargo pants/track suit pants for evenings and cooler days
- Shorts/light skirt/dress
- Lightweight waterproof jacket
- Sweater or polar fleece (the nights can be cool)
- One set of smart clothes for a night out
- Camera with relevant batteries and chargers
- Memory cards large enough as you may not be able to get them anywhere else
- Film for your camera
Small First Aid Kit:
Clients are required to bring their own basic first aid kit which should contain:
- Pain killers – ie: paracetamol
- Rehydration sachets for diarrhoea
- Anti diarrhoea medication
- Antihistamine tablets or cream
- Antiseptic cream, e.g. Betadine, Savlon
- Plasters, sterile dressing pads
- Eye drops
- After sun treatment
- Minette - OverlandingAfrica.com15 Mar 2012
Hi Catherine; we can certainly assist you with a trip at the age of 60 years. All we do require is a letter from your doctor stating that you are fit enough to partake in an overland trip and you are good to go! I have emailed you some options. Cheers!
- Catherine14 Mar 2012
Are there any age restrictions on these trips? I am interested in a 3-6 month trip. I am 60; very fit; no meds; no illnesses or disabilities. I understand that we must participate in many physical acitivities; some requiring more physical strength. Any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.
- Minette - OverlandingAfrica.com20 Jan 2012
Hi Deborha; we certainly do have trips available for you however this will also depend on your son's age. Due to your illness; we will require a letter from your doctor stating that you are fit enough to partake in an overland tour. I have emailed you some more information. Happy trails!
- Deborah Morgan20 Jan 2012
well my dream has always been to go to africa but commitments have made it not possible. My biggest problem now is I would like to go for 1 week in my son's half term feb 10th for 8days quickly because I am on medication at the moment for my kidneys and the surgeon has said that I will probably have to go onto dialysis soon before Aug; obviously I would get the necessary health insurance and vaccinations needed but I would really like to go sooner rather than it be too late. I would be on dialysis for at least 2 3 years while I wait for a transplant so you can see my dilema! I am worried that something may go wrong in the future and then it would never be possible.Do you think in the short time this would be possible I thankyou for your opinion. Best wishes Deborah
- Simone10 Jan 2012
Hello; My friend and i are interested in the Cape Town to Vic Falls tour but are wondering if we should bring our own tent or that this is provided by the organisation. Thankyou!
- Christian03 Oct 2011
Hi. My girlfriend and me are interested in the 11 day tour from Johannesburg to the Victoria Falls at the end of December. Problem is; that we are on a tour before the departure; but with a suitcase and no sleeping bag. Is there a possibility to solve that problem? Thanks!
- Minette - OverlandingAfrica.com19 Sep 2011
Hi Roger! Yes there are quite a few places in Swakopmund where you will be able to buy a sleeping bag and sleeping mat. There is a CYMOT MIDAS shop in Swakopmund; it is in Sam Nujoma Drive and their telephone number is: 264 (0)64 400318. Please note that they close at 5pm in the week and on Saturday open until 12pm. Alternatively you can go to Pick n Pay or Woerman Brock which stays open for a little bit longer. Cheers!
- Roger Lucl18 Sep 2011
Hi Minette I am coming straight from work in nigeria to swakupmond. is there a camping shop that you could send me the telephone number of so i can buy my sleeping bag etc there.
- Minette - OverlandingAfrica.com26 Aug 2011
Hi Mark. There is not so much begging in Egypt; however there is quite a bit of hassle especially at markets and main tourist attractions. Egyptians are very hospitable people and will always approach you and invite you into their shop and offer you food and drinks as this is one of the ways they try and get you to buy something from them. Hassle and Egypt go together like two peas in a pod; there is not much you can do to avoid it so best just to get used to it. This is part of their culture and just who they are! I have always said; if you can't beat them; join them! Happy trails!
- mark franks25 Aug 2011
is there a high level of begging in all parts of Egypt?.would a lone traveller be targeted all the time?
- Minette - OverlandingAfrica.com11 Jul 2011
Hi Jules; if the World Health Organization has recommended you to get a Rabies shot for preventative measures; then I would get the jab! The countries who are at risk of rabies include all the countries that you will be visiting. Happy trails :)
- Jules08 Jul 2011
I was on the WHO web site and they recommend a preventative Ra-bis shot. What do you think?? I will be over-landing from Vic Falls to Cape Town and then going To Tanzania. Thank you
- Minette - OverlandingAfrica.com08 Jul 2011
Hi Julie; we recommend that you insure your camera equipment as the terrain that overland trucks cover can be rugged and you can never be too certain about what happens when you are out in the wilderness! Your camera could get stolen; get wet or caught in a dust storm. In the past I have had passengers that keep their cameras covered especially around areas where there is a lot of sand! Happy trails!
- Julie 07 Jul 2011
My husband and I have pretty expensive cameras. Of course the whole idea of going on this trip would be to take lots of pictures. How safe are our cameras regarding dust and water activities?
- Minette - OverlandingAfrica.com09 Mar 2011
Hi Rajen! That is awesome to hear; I have emailed you some options so keep an eye on your inbox! Cheers.
- Rajen Magan08 Mar 2011
My wife and I wish to do a 42 day overland camping safari from Nairobi to Cape Town about Aug / Sept 2011. Our departure from Nairobi has to coincide with our son's arrival in Nairobi at about the same time. My son and two of his friends are cycling from Cape Town to Cairo to raise awareness and funds for Cochlear Implants to give Deaf Children the gift of hearing. This may be an opportunity for us to do this trip which we have been planning for a long time.
- Tania - OverlandingAfrica.com07 Sep 2010
Hi Jennifer; October is autumn up there so although the temperatures are still pretty warm during the day the nights are starting to cool down. Also there is a lot of KM's between Cairo and Luxor so temperatures will vary. On average; the days should be around mid to high 20's degC and the nights from 15 to 20 degC. Have fun!
- jennifer Hermann05 Sep 2010
What will the temperature be in Cairo and Luxor during the day and night the first 2 weeks of October? Best Regards; Jennifer
- Dayne - OverlandingAfrica.com07 Jul 2010
Hi Shahwana; The best option is to visit your nearest travel clinic. Depending where you are located in Durban there is a travel clinic at the Durban Convention Center in Ordnance Road and the Netcare Travel clinic in Umhlanga. Good Luck!
- shahwana kajee07 Jul 2010
Where in Durban can i get the most reasonable vaccines for yellow fever and miningitis.
- Mike19 Jun 2010
What rated sleeping bag(0 degrees; 45 degrees; etc.)should be purchased for Oct.-Nov weather?
- monirul islam08 Jun 2010
I think Africa is a kind a good place
- Tania - OverlandingAfrica.com05 Jan 2010
Hey Andrew. Good question! It really depend on where she is going and what facilities are provided when she gets there; ie: mosquito nets? The biggest mistake people make is they take TOO MUCH STUFF especially clothes. Less is more! Less clothes; more money; less toiletries; more first aid kit and antiseptics etc. Sorry i can't be more helpful. Cheers.
- Andrew Lasick05 Jan 2010
I have a friend who is going on a mission to Zimbabwe through her church. It's her first time; she says she's well prepared; and I do believe her; but I really want to make sure she has everything she needs for sure! Is there anything that groups like that should travel with but usually don't?
- Tania - OverlandingAfrica.com30 Oct 2009
Hi Allison; No they don't for hygiene reasons. Bottled water is readily available but the tap water at most overnight stops is also perfectly fine to drink. You are welcome to bring your own travel bottle if you like. :)
- Allison Stone30 Oct 2009
Do these overlanding tours include water bottles on the truck for the entire duration of the trip? I can't find any specifics regarding water bottles!
- Tania - OverlandingAfrica.com21 Oct 2009
Hi Sara; We don't have them to hire but can point you in the direction of a few places where they can be purchased quite cheaply. Give us a shout when you get to Cape Town! Have fun!
- Sara21 Oct 2009
Hi; just a quick query. I'm actually already on a trip in africa- and would be joining you straight from that. I have no rucksack; or sleeping bag- can these be hired? Thanks
Before You Go
Suggested reading to help plan for your backpacking Africa overland tour:
The highlight of my trip had to be Gweru in Zimbabwe, it was my idea of paradise. So much to do there with the animals and the location of it was just beautiful!
— Anne B (27) from Ireland
The trip was great! A very relaxed ride in a mokoro, followed by camping in the Okavango Delta and watching the animals on the islands was awesome!
— Michael & Silke from Germany
I loved every millisecond of the entire trip... Guess what I did in Swakopmund? I skydived out of a plane - woohoo was that AWESOME :-)
— JoJo E (61) from Switzerland
Finally home and had a great timeâ€¦. I loved the shark diving, Sossusvlei and Himba people. Saw Lions, a Leopard, Elephants, Giraffes, everything really! Thanks for…
— John E from Canada
I did not believe in god till i visited Chobe National Park.
— Juca from Uruguay
Do this on the Cape Town to Nairobi with Gorilla Trek.Tours with Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Do this on the Best of South Africa.Tours with Kruger National Park Game Drive
Do this on the Cape Town to Nairobi Epic.Tours with Mt Kilimanjaro Trekking
Do this on the Best of South West Africa.Tours with Okavango Delta Mokoro Excursion
Do this on the Best of East Africa.Tours with Serengeti National Park Excursion
Do this on the Best of South West Africa.Tours with Victoria Falls Flight of Angels
Do this on the Best of South West Africa.Tours with White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River
Visit Etosha National Park on the Best of South West AfricaTours through Etosha National Park
Visit Serengeti National Park on the Best of East AfricaTours through Serengeti National Park