African Riding Safari Packing List
You need to be organised when packing for a riding safari. With a limited luggage allowance you need to be prepared but not go overboard. Most riding safaris will operate a laundry service so you can factor that into your packing. Here is our list of riding essentials:
1 Riding hat
A light weight riding hat such as the Gatehouse Chelsea Air Flow Pro is a great example of what to bring on safari. Although these can be expensive you will be thankful of the investment once galloping through the heat of the African afternoon sun. These hats are breathable, light and won’t take up too much of your precious luggage allowance. Remember that while it’s not compulsory to wear a hat while riding in Africa you will not be medically insured unless you are wearing a riding hat.
2 Riding boots
Ariat Heritage IV Zip are by far my favourite riding boots. Not only do I wear them all the time at home but the thick soles means you are protected from thorns in the bush. Plus they don’t look out of place walking through the airport!
Sunglasses are an obvious piece of equipment to take with you on a sunny holiday. I choose Oakley Gascan sunglasses as they are polarised and fit well under my hat. Sunglasses string is recommended to keep them from getting lost.
4 Half Chaps
Don’t make the mistake of taking leather chaps with you, these are much less breathable than their suede and canvas counterpart. Suede breathes more, dries quicker and doesn’t get so damaged. Imagine galloping through the Okavango Delta then stopping for lunch after a quick swim with your horse. Leather chaps would need some serious saddle soap afterwards but suede will dry in the sun. Have a look at Tredstep Original Suede Chaps as a good example.
If there is one item of clothing you need to make sure fits and is comfortable it is your jodhpurs. You will spend most of your time in these. Don’t be tempted to wear cotton trousers or jeans, you will only regret it – a double seam next to the saddle is a big no no. When thinking about buying a new pair of jodhpurs for a riding safari make sure that they are not a bright colour (no pink, red, purple or white). Muted tones are best: beiges, greens, fawn etc. Top tip: wear a belt so you can attach your camera to it (see more below). Mark Todd carry a good selection for both men and ladies have a look at Mark Todd Men’s Aukland Breeches and Mark Todd London Breeches.
A light cotton shirt (like the Musto Classic Twill Shirt) is essential while on a riding safari. This light weight shirt allows your skin to breathe but also provides a much needed barrier against the sun. It can get cold in the morning and the evening while on safari so long sleeves are great.
Most African countries are surprisingly cold in the early morning and late evening. Having an extra layer is always important and you’ll find something like the North Face Glacier Fleece very useful.
A scarf is a good addition to your suitcase. It’s not just a fashion item to spruce up your evening attire but has great practical use too: you can use it while riding to keep the sun off your neck, it will keep you warm in the mornings and if it has been very dry you can pull one over your mouth and nose while on a wildlife drive. Somewhere like John Lewis is probably a good place to start.
There is nothing worse than wearing a pair of hot sweaty gloves while riding. On the other hand (pun intended) they do prevent blisters and sunburn. MacWet riding gloves are available at many saddlers and are my choice for a riding safari. They act like an extra skin while allowing your hands to breathe, plus they have a great grip and are very good if you are around water.
10 Flip flops
Flip flops are a must have while on safari, they are fantastic to wear after a day in the saddle getting your feet out of your riding boots. Havaianas are always popular and very comfortable.
11 Soft Sided Flight Bag
If you are travelling by light aircraft, your luggage will need to fit into the plane’s small baggage compartment so a soft sided bag is essential. In fact, some companies will make you re-pack your bags if you turn up with hard sided bags. You are often restricted to a 15-20kg weight limit (depending on which safari you are on) so a duffel bag will also save you weight allowing you to pack that one extra piece of clothing you probably won’t use! Sandstorm Kenya have a lovely selection of travel bags.
12 Wide Brimmed Hat
A wide brimmed hat is brilliant to wear whenever you are not riding. It is important not to burn the back of your neck or your shoulders and staying as hydrated as possible will keep sun stroke at bay. Tilley Hats have a good selection.
13 Camera and Belt
Safari provides fantastic opportunities to take some truly memorable photos. While a big SLR is perfect on a wildlife drive it is not feasible to take one while riding a horse. These days, the camera on a mobile phone is probably as good as anything on a riding safari. If you have a small compact camera you could take that too. If you’re taking a small camera then a top tip is to get yourself a waterproof case/bag which you can attach to the belt on your jodhpurs so you can store it safely while you are on the move. The mobile works well on a neck clip underneath your t-shirt or jacket. Read more on best cameras for safaris.
14 Head torch
A torch is a very useful item to have on you when it gets dark, you will be provided with these by the camp/lodge but it never hurts to have your own too. Tikkina head torches from Petzl are very good. Top tip: bring some spare batteries just in case.
Similar to a camera, big binoculars are fantastic at the lodge and on a game drive, but are impractical while on horseback. I would suggest a small compact pair, like Swarovski CL Pocket. If you can get them in the same waterproof bag as your camera that works a treat, if not then I would suggest you get another waterproof bag which fastens to your belt. Read more on guide to buying binoculars for safaris
16 Waterproof Jacket
A waterproof layer is very handy if you are riding in the rainy season. A small light weight jacket which easily folds away into your saddle bag is ideal, something like this unisex jacket from Premier Equine would be work well.
In the hot months a sarong is very useful. You can use it at the pool, or if it’s hot during siesta time you can soak it in water, wring it out and then wrap it around your torso. This acts as a brilliant coolant. The Bondi Bay Hammam Towel from Bohemia is a great example.
18 Comfortable underwear
Comfortable underwear is essential if you are to spend long hours in the saddle. These Sloggi Maxi Briefs are great.
19 A Go Pro – luxury item but worth it for the memories captured
A GoPro is definitely a luxury item to have with you, but one which might just capture the perfect memory of your holiday. As they are lightweight, waterproof and come with many different harnesses it is easy to take this almost bombproof gadget on a horse with you.
Other riding safari packing list items
Other items to consider for your riding safari packing list include: shorts, long trousers, socks, sun cream, moisturizer, mossi spray, swimwear, t-shirts and any personal medication. All clothing should fairly neutral in colour to help blend with the bush. Avoid navy blue and bright white.
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