Planning a trip to Africa? Our guide covers the essentials you will need in your packing list for Africa. This is a massive continent and items aren’t so easily found in many African countries, compared to say travelling in Europe or Southeast Asia. This Africa packing list is light enough to carry, which will make your travels much easier.  

Packing List for Africa girl with red backpack africa

Let’s get to it! The Only Packing List for Africa you need

How to Choose the Right Travel Bag

Ok, some people are backpack travellers and others couldn’t think of anything worse than lugging their lives on their backs, they need a suitcase.

Depending on the type of travel you are doing in Africa, I’d recommend a different travel bag. 

If you are just visiting Africa on an organised safari, staying in lodges and having all logistics taken care of (lucky you), then a suitcase would work for you. 

We’re huge fans of Nomatic suitcases.

If you’re joining an organised small group tour (see trips with G Adventures), an overland expedition or travelling independently, then a backpack is highly recommended.

Choosing a backpack over a suitcase for your packing list for Africa will give you more flexibility in your movements.

You will encounter dirty and dusty vehicles, your baggage will be stuffed under seats or tied to the top of a bus (with livestock) and you may have to nurse your main backpack on your lap for the longest bus journey you’ve ever encountered.

It is a little easier to bear all of this and move more freely if you have a backpack rather than wheeled luggage.

Nowadays, you can buy some awesome travel bags that offer both options, like the Osprey Wheels 36 Bag. You can wear this bag as a backpack and then convert it into a rolling bag too. 

packing list for europe martys backpack

The Only Packing list for Africa you need. This is our Osprey 40L carry-on backpack with everything in it. Weighs less than 10kg.

We’ve used many travel bags over the past twenty years. The one we use now is the Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack and we love it!

This is the ideal travel bag for your packing list for Africa. 

Osprey Packs FARPOINT 40, Volcanic Grey, Medium/Large

Do you need a small day pack?

Travelling with a small day pack is a personal choice. We travel with one as we do carry a MacBook and some cameras and we prefer to keep our valuables with us at all times.

For our travels in Africa, we did it all with an Osprey day pack.

When we’re on the move, our small Osprey day pack sits on the front of our body with our Osprey 40L backpack on our backs, this makes it easy to quickly access passports or money.

There have been some advancements with travel gear over the past few years and we’re really impressed with Nomatic Travel Gear – the travel range is AMAZING!

Nomatic

In particular, the Navigator 15L Backpack is awesome – they’ve thought of everything that any traveller could possibly need. I’d recommend any travel bag from the Nomatic Travel gear range to include in your Africa packing list.

Choosing your Travel Clothes for Africa Packing List

As I mentioned at the beginning, this packing list for Africa is the only one you’ll need to deal with all temperatures and conditions in Africa.

The best clothing to select for your packing list in Africa is light, breathable cotton, clothing you can mix and match, and items that dry quickly. 

Just a heads up, you’re likely to become quite a good clothes hand-washer if you’re travelling here for a while. There just aren’t too many other options for getting laundry done (unless you’re happy to pay ridiculous prices for your hotel or lodge to wash them for you).

Africa Packing List - Essential packing list for Africa -3

Your packing list for Africa should contain clothes that are light and easy to hand wash. You’ll get the chance to do quite a bit of that.

Packing List for Africa: Clothing for WOMEN

Packing List for Africa clothes in backpack

Africa Packing List for clothes for men. Guys, here’s what to pack for Africa.

Packing List for Africa: Clothing for MEN

Toiletries for Women

We’re lucky to be able to share some toiletries on the road – so it gives one of us a little more room in our backpack.

If Marty carries the toiletries, I’ll carry our espresso machine and fresh coffee to evenly share the load.

Africa Packing List - Essential packing list for Africa

Try and keep toiletries to a minimum for your packing list for Africa

We try to keep toiletries to a minimum as they can be heavy. We also travel with carry-on baggage, therefore all of our toiletries must be 100ml or less.

You can usually pick up small sachets of shampoo or conditioner or bars of soap in different countries in Africa.

  • Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • Small containers (100ml) for refills
  • Shampoo/Conditioner 100ml each
  • Bar of soap
  • shaver/razor (we never have a problem at airports with this in our carry-on)
  • hairbrush
  • Roll-on deodorant
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • exfoliating shower glove (we found these in Morocco..love them)
  • 100ml sized sunscreen – We like Nivea or Neutrogena brands
  • Nivea face moisturiser SPF30
  • Blistex and lip balm
  • A few pieces of makeup (which we rarely use, but sometimes it feels nice to dress up) 1 tube of foundation, bronzing powder, and brush, 1 mascara

Toiletries for Men (as suggested by our male travel buddy)

  • Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Shampoo
  • Body gel
  • Moisturiser
  • Deodorant
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunblock
  • Deodorant
  • Shaver/small shaving cream
  • Mosquito repellent (with DEET!)

 Accessories/Extras for our packing list for Africa

Technology/Electronics

If you’re a photographer, digital nomad, or simply can’t live without your MacBook and other electronics, we understand.

We need these things as we work online as we travel the world. Our packing list for Africa includes the following electronics.

Packing List for Africa local with camera

Safety in Africa

Safety in Africa very much depends on what countries or regions you’ll be visiting.

We recommend doing as much research as possible for your upcoming trip and checking your government Travel Advisory to see what countries are regarded as ‘Unsafe for Travel’.

In Australia, this website is Smart Traveller, and for Americans, visit the Travel.State.Gov website.

There are some countries in Africa that are deemed unstable, and unsafe. In addition to reading about our best tips for safe travel (which is focused on all international travel), it’s essential that you have the latest updates on safety in the country or countries you plan to visit.

The same goes for travelling anywhere in the world, accidents do happen. There are some cities in Africa (Dakar in Senegal and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia) that have a higher rate of pickpockets and petty thieves, so you need to be a little more cautious of your belongings.

We 100% recommend Travel Insurance 

We highly recommend you sort some good travel insurance to cover you when things go wrong. It will be one of the most essential things on your packing list for Africa.

Africa Packing List - Essential packing list for Africa

Travel Insurance is an essential item on your Africa Packing list

We’ve used World Nomads Travel Insurance to cover us in over 100+ countries. We recommend adding one of their comprehensive travel insurance policies to your packing list for Africa.

In saying that, please be aware that World Nomads will not provide cover for travel in some African countries. I’d recommend you check if the travel insurance company SafetyWing, will provide coverage.

We’re currently travelling the world on a travel insurance policy with SafetyWing, we recommend this product.

Read more abut why we recommend these two Travel Insurance Companies for 2022 and beyond.

Transport and Getting Around in Africa

Packing List for Africa Safari Jeep

Getting from A to B in Africa isn’t as easy as it is in other regions of the world.

You will most likely book several flights within Africa, and we recommend Skyscanner to get the best flight deals. The prices are unbeatable and you can choose to pay in the currency of your choice. 

Depending on what country in Africa you will be visiting, check out AFRICA Page and select the individual country from here that you’re heading to next.

We’ve got some comprehensive travel itineraries that work in many countries in Africa.

Posts such as the perfect itinerary for Madagascar in 2 weeks, the ultimate 14 Day Itinerary for Tunisia and 8 amazing places to visit in Algeria.

How to Book Accommodation in Africa

We always use the same websites to book accommodation in Africa. Booking.com is our number one choice for booking accommodation in most African countries.

We also like the Booking.com app, it’s very user-friendly and we can make reservations with ease when we’re on the go.

Apps to download for Africa

Download these apps on your phone to make your travels in Africa much easier.

Whether you’re preparing a packing list for African safari and then returning home or if you plan to stay much longer in Africa, your packing essentials list should include these apps.

  • Skyscanner (to search flights)
  • Booking.com (to book accommodation on the go)
  • XE.com (to check the latest exchange rates)
  • Maps. me (the best offline maps to help you navigate around)
  • Google Translate (while English is widely spoken in Europe, this app is so useful when you get lost in translation)
  • Bolt – Cheap taxi/ride-sharing app
  • Viator – Book the best experiences and things to do in Africa

africa packing list apps to download

Staying in Africa long-term?

If you’re considering staying longer in Africa (and you’ve got the right visas to do so), check out the Trusted Housesitters website for saving loads of money on accommodation. Become a house-sitter in Africa, (and all over the world) if you’re considering staying in one place for a little longer.

Being a house-sitter means free accommodation for you in return for looking after different homes around the globe. This was one of the best things we ever did!

Join now with our personal invitation and receive a massive 25% off your membership!

Staying Connected in Africa

You can try and get local SIM cards for your phone as you travel around to stay connected, or you can skip the hassle and get an eSIM. If you’re not too sure what this is, read my post explaining what is an eSIM?

Basically, though, we use Airalo to stay connected around the world. It is the largest eSIM store with eSIM plans for 190+ countries and regions worldwide.

This eSIM allows you to get connected the moment you land at your destination and you can avoid those expensive data roaming charges. We really love this product! It’s now so easy to get connected with Airalo digital eSIM.

Travelling Beyond Africa?

The Best Group Tours in Africa

Packing List for Africa girl binoculars safari

If you don’t have the time to travel slowly in Africa but really want to discover more, then a group tour could be the answer.

We highly recommend Expat Explore. They offer a variety of group tours in Africa to suit everyone, and you’ll have a fantastic crew to take care of all the details. Your only task is to turn up and have an amazing time.

Check out Expat Explore, and if you see a tour that you want to book, use our promo code VERYHUNGRYNOMADS at checkout for an additional 5% discount off your trip!

My other suggestion is G Adventures for awesome small-group adventures in Africa. They offer 90+ tours in Africa.

Check out this huge range of trips here.

Practical Information about Travelling in Africa

We’ve got some comprehensive blogs about travelling in Africa as we spent quite a bit of time here.

It’s worth reading these 17 ESSENTIAL Things to know before travelling to West Africa and be sure to check out our AFRICA Page for detailed blogs about individual countries.

We share our expert travel advice in this post – 15 Best Tips after 15+ years of Travel and 11 Tips – how to save money to travel the world.

Perhaps you’re interested in how to become a housesitter and travel the world for FREE? 

If you’re simply looking for a place to find our best advice, tips, and suggestions on travel gear we love, then our Travel Resources Page is for you.

Nomatic

TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES  

✈️ Flights: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best sites to search for the cheapest flights and great deals from your home country.

🏨 Accommodation: Booking.comAgoda, and HotelsCombined are the top platforms to search for fantastic hotels and accommodation options at the best price.

🛌 Homestays: Airbnb is an ideal platform to book a local experience. We use Airbnb to reserve entire apartments for long-term stays. 

🏥 Travel Insurance: Don’t forget travel insurance! We recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.

🚌 Transportation: To book trains, Trainline is the best and cheapest website. To book transport in Europe, USA & Canada, we use Omio & FlixbusUS. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go. For all other countries, we use BookaWay to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or train tickets to get around.

🚘 Car Rental: Rentalcars.com, & Europcar are reliable platforms to book rental cars.

👫 Group ToursG Adventures or Expat Explore offers the best group adventures around the world. Use our promo code VERYHUNGRYNOMADS at checkout to receive 5% off your Expat Explore Trip!

📸 Day Tours & Trips: Get Your Guide & Viator are the only platforms you will need. They offer everything at unbeatable prices.

🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or any suitcase from Nomatic Travel Gear.

🛄 What to Pack: To help you get started on packing, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

🐶 Become a House Sitter: Join Trusted Housesitters and enjoy FREE accommodation around the world. Use our personal invite to receive 25% off your new membership.

💰 Send Money Anywhere: WISE is the best online account that lets you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. It’s so easy to use and way cheaper than any bank transfer.

📶 Stay Connected: Airalo eSIM allows you to get connected the moment you land at your destination and you can avoid those expensive data roaming charges. We LOVE this product!

✅ Check out our Travel Resources Page for more Useful Tips to Save you Money!