There are some things that just make travelling easier, other things that you shouldn’t leave home without – like sunglasses for example. Here are some things you didn’t know you needed on safari.
I’m talking about the every day shopping bag variety. Picture this - you have just visited Victoria Falls. You have walked the rainforest, admired the views – and you have got wet. I’m talking really wet. Drenched. So have your shoes. You go back to your hotel all pumped up and happy, looking forward to the next place you are going to visit. What do you do with those wet takkies? After drying them out as best you can, you put them in a plastic bag . That way your smelly shoes don’t contaminate your nice clean clothes. I once went to Vic Falls with a girl who did the whole rainforest in a pair of Ugg’s. For those of you out of touch with the fashions of the last couple years, they are casual boots; suede on the outside, fur on the inside, designed to keep your tootsies warm. Those shoes were smellier than a badger’s bottom by the next day and she ended up throwing them away rather than putting them back into her luggage. A simple plastic bag would’ve saved the day.
They are also good for dirty laundry, dusty boots or making a makeshift shower cap on a camping trip. I haven't gone away without one in years.
Clear cycling glasses.
My favourite game drive time is the afternoon one. Usually afternoon game drives start around 3-ish after a sumptuous high tea and ends up after dark in time to freshen up and have dinner. Game drive vehicles in Southern Africa are open all around so you get an unadulterated view of the wildlife and landscape. Everyone tells you about the fierce African sun and to remember your sunnies and your factor 50 sun block so all is fine when the sun is out as you have your glasses on. The trouble can start after you have enjoyed your G&T sundowner and your start back to camp as the sun starts to go down. You take off your sunnies and boom you get a bug in the eye! I’m not saying that there are zillions of bugs everywhere in Africa - hell I’ve had to deal with swarms of wiggies in cold Scotland. It’s just that a safari is built around game watching - you get a bug in the eye and your holiday could be pretty much ruined. This is where the clear cycling glasses come in. Perfect cheap protection. You'll be the envy of everyone!
Long hair can be a right pain on a game drive. Without some taming, you - or worse the person sitting next to you on a game drive can end up with a hair slapped face. A simple hairband isn’t enough as hair is a real slippery fella and comes loose from a hair band after being worried by sufficient wind. A Bandana buff or scarf fits the bill perfectly by holding the loose bits in place. A scarf does a similar job and has the added advantages of keeping bare shoulders protected from the sun or keeping your neck warm.
If you are from colder climes the fierce heat of an African October can take you by surprise. Our safari destinations are in hot dry areas and the months that lead up to the rainy months can be very, very warm. They can also be very rewarding game viewing months so don’t let the idea of heat put you off travelling. A simple spray water bottle of the kind that hair dressers use to dampen your hair is the answer. A quick spray of water will moisten the skin, cool the air around you and if sprayed dorectly onto your clothing or the back of your head will instantly reduce your discomfort. If you use iced water, then boy oh by, you have a mini air-conditioner right there in your bag.
Your sense of humour.
I have a theory that all border control workers go to one secret school in the world to learn how to make your entry to the country you are trying to visit as difficult as possible. “ Stand behind the line” or “why are you visiting ?” are lines I have heard in many a first world arrivals hall. We are not so hard core in Southern Africa – we want you to visit our countries. Things may just take some time and while you are waiting to get a visa or just get your passport stamped you may be hot, cramped or hungry or you may just not have a pen to fill in that form. This is where your sense of humor comes in. It keeps things light and you in the mood to have a great time. Oh - and don’t forget that pen I mentioned, there is never one available when you need it!
Author: Natalie Wood