Africa in detail

Planning Tips

Top Tips

  • Book months ahead if you're travelling here during high season, especially during Christmas and European summer holidays.
  • If driving, fill up with fuel at every available opportunity – you never quite know when supplies will run out, and off-road driving uses up much more fuel than you might think.
  • Distances can be long – plan your trip to see a few places well instead of trying to see everything and ending up spending all your trip driving.
  • Wildlife seasons are quite specific and vary significantly across the region.
  • In the main safari areas, book your luxury lodge, tented camp, or your self-drive campsite, many months in advance for peak periods.
  • Book months ahead also for your 4WD rental vehicle in Southern Africa.
  • At many luxury lodges or tented camps, laundry is usually included, so no need for a really full suitcase.

What to Take

  • Binoculars and a field guide
  • Mosquito repellent, net and malaria medicine
  • Neutral-coloured clothing for safari
  • Small beanbag for steadying camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Torch (flashlight)
  • Wind- and waterproof jacket
  • Yellow-fever vaccination certificate
  • Spare camera batteries and memory cards
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Photocopies of important documents
  • Water purifier


Lonely Planet ( Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Safari Bookings ( Fantastic resource for booking your safari, with expert and traveller reviews.

Expert Africa ( A tour operator with extensive online coverage of the region.

Travel Africa ( Features articles on every corner of the continent and a useful 'safari planner'.

Africa Geographic ( Nature-focused Africa online mag with good wildlife and birdwatching info.

BBC News ( Good for up-to-the-minute news from Africa.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months and has plenty of free pages for stamp-happy officials.
  • Inform your debit-/credit-card company that you’re heading away.
  • Arrange for travel insurance.
  • Leave time for researching visas and making visa applications.
  • Arrange vaccinations well before departure.
  • Ensure you have a yellow-fever certificate.

What to Wear

Africans generally expect visitors to dress neatly and respectfully, so loose-fitting, light casual wear is the recommended minimum; avoid dirty, torn or overly revealing clothes. At least one nice set of clothes (eg a button-up shirt for men) or two is a good idea for nicer restaurants and hotels. Out in the bush, light neutral tones are recommended. In rural and/or predominantly Muslim areas, clothes that cover most exposed skin are recommended; a scarf of some description is worth carrying by women so that you can cover your head when visiting mosques; it can also be useful for keeping wind-blown sand at bay in drier areas.