What to take on safari in the Masai Mara

I’ve been lucky enough to go on many safaris in Kenya and beyond so have managed to work out what I need to pack for the trip. Below are some hints and tips in case you are going on safari for the first time:

  • A camera: it seems so obvious but taking a camera to capture the amazing sights is key. I’ve seen so many people using their phone cameras and whilst they have improved a lot, sometimes it is good to also have another option. I did have to fall back onto my phone camera on my most recent trip for the last hour of one drive as the battery died on my main camera, so they aren’t completely redundant!
  • Battery charger: One of my cameras uses rechargeable batteries – but I’d left the charger in Nairobi! Luckily the amazing staff at Mara BushCamp were able to help. They also have a pretty epic photography tent set up with charge points and even a Mac as well as strong wifi
  • Phone charger: I had both a plug/wire and a portable pack. You won’t find yourself wanting to be on your phone all that much, but you might want to post your beautiful pictures to social media. As a solo traveller I was also sending updates to my friends and family to keep them updated on my travels
  • Hard/tough soled shoes: You’re unlikely to do any super long walks, but you might get off the safari vehicle for a comfort break, breakfast/lunch or sun downers. Likewise you will often get back when it is dark and leave at twilight. It’s a good idea to keep your feet protected rather than wearing flip flops.
  • A small – medium backpack: I would use this to story a jumper, tissues, camera, sun screen and insect repellent during drives. It was also helpful to use as hand luggage for my internal flights
  • Tissues: During early drives when it is still a bit nippy, I’d find my nose would sometimes run a little so it was good to be able to grab a tissue when needed
  • Water bottle: I actually got one at BushCamp which I love! It has a built in straw inside which makes drinking whilst bouncing along on a game drive so much easier! I also have another one which I would fill with hot chocolate to sip throughout the drive.
  • Insect repellent: The BushCamp sits close to a river so it is inevitable there are some mosquitos around. I put some repellent on in the mornings and then after my shower in the evenings. I get bitten in random places like my knuckles and toes, even my face, so have to be quite thorough!
  • Suitable clothing: I took hoodie jumpers for the chillier mornings, short sleeved tops for when it warmed up, and wore either jeans, leggings or shorts on drives. A lot of people wear cargo pants for the extra pockets. Khaki and mustard tones are seen a lot – I tend to wear dark colours, greens and greys. I also have a body warmer which can be scrunched down so it doesn’t take up much room. I pack a waterproof jacket that again, doesn’t take up much space.
  • A hat: I took a woolly hat for chilly early mornings but it also came in handy as we sped along at times as it helped to calm my windswept hair! I’ve seen all sorts of hats being sported but I’d recommend something quite fitted and/or secured as you may sometimes find it quite windy
  • Ear plugs: Personally I love hearing the noises of the wild at night, but if you are a super light sleeper and don’t want nature’s audio, pack ear plugs to block out the noise! On my first ever safari I had no idea what the bellowing noise was that was coming from the river, it turned out it was hippos!
  • Cash tips for staff: Those working in the camps around the Mara really add to the experience of being on safari. This is particularly the case at Mara BushCamp. I decided beforehand what I wanted to pay my guide, then allowed for some contingency. You may want to tip other staff members who have made the stay special. There is also a tip box which helps ensure that those working behind the scenes to also make the camp what it is get some recognition
  • Cash for small purchases: Visiting a Masai village is a great way to get to know the Masai community and culture a little better. There are often markets where lovely jewellery, art and other keepsakes are available to purchase and take home
  • Notepad and pen: You will have so many experiences, it’s great to capture them, even as bullet points
  • Open ears and an open mind: I love hearing from my guides and the staff in camps about the lives and experiences. I always learn something new. I’d definitely recommend taking the time to talk to those around you and get to know more about the lives of those living in the Mara

 

And specifically for the ladies:

  • An exercise bra: Yup really! You probably won’t be doing much exercise but at times it can be quite bouncy on drives and a bit of extra support can go a long way!
  • Sanitary products: Camps tend to be based quite far from local towns, so it is worth brining little extras along just in case needed
  • Don’t worry about fragrances and perfume: It can attract unnecessary attention from mosquitos!

 

You are sure to have an amazing time on safari!

Rebecca Dash