6 things I didn't need to pack for safari
As the safari drew nearer...
I felt as though I made a thousand trips to REI, and that I read every single TripAdvisor and LonelyPlanet forum post there was. I read Frommers, Fodors, Virtual Tourist -- and what felt like the first 5 pages each time I did a Google search (and I did many). Still, there were a few items where it took me forever to decide whether to bring - or not bring - an item.
Here are a few things that were (or would have been) less useful than I initially thought they'd be:
- Headlamp: I went back and forth, debated whether it would be helpful, and finally went for the additional splurge - I bought a headlamp specifically for the safari. But this was far, far less useful than I thought it would be. And in fact, I often found myself taking off the head lamp and simply holding it the light in my hands. The reasoning is really simple -- insects and bugs are really attracted to light, which meant that when the light was coming from our heads, the insects were dive-bombing us. This was particularly noticeable on the night game drive, when I was hit in the eye about 30 times in a minute. The person sitting behind me was wearing a headlamp, and the bugs would always hit me in the face en route to her. The only time when the head lamp functionality was actually useful was INSIDE the tented camp, at night, when I went to the toilet. However, in the tented camps we stayed in, there was actually electricity and a dim light hanging. If I'd wanted to save a little money, I could easily have cut back on the head lamp.
- Mosquito net: I debated on the mosquito net quite a few times, and finally decided not to bring one. I didn't need it! The lodges we stayed in (tented or otherwise) were all really nice, and there were almost never any bugs inside our rooms. Some places, such as Boundary Hill, already had mosquito netting in place. There was one place where there were bugs -- at Tarangire in the tented camp. However, there was really no place convenient to hang the mosquito netting from.
- Tevas: I brought my Tevas mainly because of the canoe safari, and it wasn't at all important there. I wore my regular shoes, which was just fine. If I were to pack all over again, I'd consider bringing a regular pair of flip-flops instead - just to save on the space.
- Hiking Boots: These were actually super useful because we went gorilla trekking. However, I remember wondering if boots would be helpful for the safari part of the trip - and the answer to that is "Not necessarily". We did a few bush walks and hikes, and hiking boots were useful (for me) for that. But one of the folks on our trip was an Eagle Scout, and he did just fine in sneakers. Most of the time, we were in the jeep.
- Walking Stick: We considered splurging on hiking sticks, but ultimately didn't. This was just fine! The bush walks we went on were pretty easy, flat walks. We did go on two hikes where it was a bit steeper: i) down Empakaai Crater and ii) on the very last day, when we flew out, we went on a hike to the waterfall at Mounta Meru. We had plenty of time at Empakaai Crater, and it wasn't too bad. The waterfall hike was definitely steep! Still, I'm glad we didn't splurge and buy these -- or give ourselves one more thing to carry!
- Clothesline: I didn't actually pack a clothesline, but I'm including this on my list, because some of us discussed this too. Yes, it's funny the things we ended up debating over - such as a tiny clothesline! A clothesline wouldn't have been much use because, frankly, the main problem we faced was that there sometimes just wasn't enough time to dry the clothes. We'd get in around six, be exhausted, take a shower, eat, and the next morning we'd be up early and headed to our next location. There were a couple places where we stayed two nights in a row, and on those occasions, we simply dropped off our laundry at the front desk. It was pretty cheap to do laundry!
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