What luggage for safari?

March 14th 2019  |   Travel, Shop, Miscellaneous  |  by   Richard Smith
Family arriving on a light aircraft at Angama Mara, Masai Mara, Kenya

Luggage weights on safari

Luxury safaris normally include light aircraft flights to minimise travel times and maximise enjoyment. You’ll get a great bird’s eye view of the scenery below, but your luggage will have to meet strict weight limits.

Typically on safari your baggage weight limit will be:

  1. 20kg (44lbs) in Southern Africa
  2. 15kg (33lbs) in East Africa

These limits are a total and include hand baggage as well as your main bag.

You shouldn’t need more than these limits since:

  • Safari camps and lodges provide toiletries and towels
  • Laundry can be done daily
  • Dress on safari is casual throughout the day and into the evening

Bags have to fit into the luggage pod on a light aircraft

Bags have to fit into the luggage pod on a light aircraft. If you do need a higher luggage limit – generally something only really required by photographers with multiple camera bodies and long lenses – you can buy an extra seat on the light aircraft to make things more flexible.

Main bags for safari

The key restriction is that, on safari, bags must be strictly soft sided bags only, no wheels or frames (don’t worry about not having wheels as there are trolleys at airports and someone to carry your bag to your room or tent in the safari camp).

Bags have to fit into the luggage pod on a light aircraft flying between safari camps and lodges. When the flight is full, bags often require a shove to squeeze them in.

long-weekender-2-sandstorm-bag leather safari luggage

‘Weekender’ leather safari luggage by Sandstorm Kenya 57 x 19 x 39 cm (22.4 x 7.5 x 15.4 inches)

Size restrictions are seldom explicitly defined, since the weight restriction generally means you only need a ‘medium bag’, but aim at something no bigger than the following:

  • 62cm (24 inches) long
  • 30cm (12 inches) high
  • 25cm (10 inches) wide

In terms of ‘capacity’ this size is likely to be around 70 litres.

Day pack for safari

For many people on safari, their hand luggage on the international flights becomes their day pack to take out on a safari vehicle or when walking. Obviously, if you are going to walk with it, a small rucksack is easier than a tote bag.

Wayo Fly Camp walking safari

Wayo Fly Camp walking safari with backpacks

Ideally your day pack is big enough to carry your camera and accessories (if you don’t have a big DSLR and a separate camera bag), a water bottle, sun cream, tissues and a portable battery charger.

Packing help

We’ve produced an interactive safari packing list, which asks three questions before tailoring a personal list for you based on destination, time of year and safari activities you’re undertaking. Click the link to try it out: Interactive Safari Packing List

Any questions?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

17 responses to “What luggage for safari?”

  1. Carol Bowen says:

    I’m going on a 7 day safari and then to a beach hotel for 7 days. What happens to my luggage for beach holiday whilst on safari?

    • Richard Smith says:

      Thanks for the question. Unless you have particularly heavy or bulky watersports equipment it would be normal to take it with you.

  2. Adursh Bali says:


    Can you please suggest some makes and models of duffle bags that match 62x30x25 as I am struggling to find this size?

  3. ToJoBe says:

    I am struggling with fitting camera equipment and clothing for 14 days safari in a bag that weighs less than or equal to 33 pounds. Seems that bags either do one or the other. Camera bags that leave zero room for any clothing or a travel bag that has zero padding or dividers for equipment. Does anybody have a recommendation for a good bag that fills camera and clothing needs and is no larger than 28″X18″X10″?

    • Richard Smith says:

      I’ve asked around the office and got a quick reply from a couple of friendly photographers. Noone uses a single bag to achieve safety for their camera kit (they aren’t ever checking it in) and the rest of their luggage. Unless they only have a single day’s worth of clothes, they use two bags/cases/packs.

      Hope you find a solution. Have a great trip.

  4. Eva Yulo says:

    Hi I would also like to get some recommendations on makes and models of bags measuring 62x30x25 as nothing I’ve seen matches this size.
    Thank you

    • Richard Smith says:

      Eva – bear in mind that luggage is fine if it can be ‘squashed’ to the sizes mentioned. The luggage pods of many light aircraft are an awkward shape. As long as the pilot can make your bag fit, your fine. Either a small bag absolutely full, or a bigger bag that’s half full and can be squashed to fit.

  5. Leslie Hubbard says:

    Travelling to South Africa this Oct 2023 . What do we do with our large cases . Staying in the Commodore Hotel first for a few days then on to Franschhoek for a few days then Whale watching. Before flying to Karegi for safari for 4 days then back to Belmond Mount Hotel . The cases are the problem. As the flight to safari is small . So any suggestions on what we do with cases please.

    • Richard Smith says:

      Dear Leslie
      We would offer our clients two options:
      (i) Pack less. Hopefully this doesn’t sound too obvious, but most people pack too much when they holiday. South Africa isn’t generally formal for meals and you can get laundry done everywhere. In most cases there is little reason to have more luggage than can go to a safari camp with you.
      (ii) Arrange for the cases you don’t need on safari to go direct to the next hotel. There would be a cost for them to be transported but most hotels have a storage area where they can look after them until you arrive.
      If you choose the second option, I hope your tour operator can make the arrangements for you.

  6. Eva Yulo says:

    Thank you Richard. Much appreciated

  7. Alan Birnbaum says:

    Might I presume that a Cotopaxi Allpa 35L travel pack, 22 x 10 x 12 inches would fit into the described baggage pod?

    It sounds like an Osprey Porter 46 at 22 x 14 x 10 inches might be a bit too wide.

    • Katy Duncan says:

      Good morning Alan, I will ask one of the team to get back in touch and they can help advise. Thanks Katy

  8. Katrina Boswell says:

    Can I take a medium suitcase with wheels

  9. Katrina Boswell says:

    Can it be a medium suit case for 8 days

    • Katy Duncan says:

      Hi Katrina, thanks for getting in touch. It depends on where you are travelling to and whether or not you are taking internal flights. We would be more than happy to advise if you e-mail us direct – mail@aardvarksafaris.com. Thansk Katy

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