The continent of Africa is the perfect place for a backpacking adventure. Sure, there are risks, but if you do enough research about where you are going, you can quickly learn about the places to avoid. And if you do, the rewards will stay in your memory for a lifetime. But what should you bring?
If you are interested in a backpacking trip to anywhere in Africa, there are a few essentials you need to think about. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what you should take with you and cover all the basics. This isn’t a definitive list, but it will point you in the right direction for a stress-free experience.
First of all, it gets hot in Africa. As in, really hot. And if you are trekking through 40km of jungles and mountains, the last thing you will need is a heavy backpack weighing you down. So when it comes to packing your clothes and equipment, think about that and go easy. The lighter, the better – as any experienced backpacker will tell you. Walking shoes are essential, of course, as are several pairs of underwear and a variety of socks.
You’ll get through them quickly, trust us! To cut down on clothing, think about getting some multi-use pants, that zip off at the knees. Get light but durable fabrics. You’ll also need plenty of light t-shirts and some swimmers. You should also prepare for a cold night, however, unlikely you think it will be. However, a simple fleece, a pair of jeans and light rainproof jacket will do the job. Finally, bring a hat or two – the sun beats down hard around the equator and you will reduce the risk of sunstroke.
Bring a camera – not too expensive but good enough to take great pictures. You will see some stunning sights and meet some fantastic people, and photos are a great way of reigniting those memories. You should also bring a phone and charger – with a spare battery if your phone has a removable option. You probably won’t use it much, if at all, but it’s a wise idea just in case.
Other than that, you’ll need a sleeping mask and earplugs – some of the noises you hear in the wilderness will scare the living daylights out of you. A knife might be a good idea to cut through undergrowth or even skinning an animal or fish for your dinner. The Esee brand does a good range, but be aware that you’ll need to put it in your hold luggage when you travel. There’s no way customs will let you through with it in your hand luggage.
A first aid kit is crucial for treating any injuries or illnesses you might pick up in Africa. You should also carry some form of identification in the event you get lost. Bring a small amount of cash – although it’s unlikely you will need it, you never know.
Finally, another good idea is a map and a compass. Before you go, it might be a wise idea to sharpen up your orienteering skills. The African landscape is vast, and if you know how to get yourself out of a tight spot, it will give you the confidence to do so.
With all the different climates and environments you’ll be travelling through, it pays to carry a good hygiene kit. Make sure to bring along some hand sanitiser, as well as insect repellent – tropical areas are particularly prone to mosquitos. Bring lightweight soap, shampoo and a small towel for when you need to freshen up after a long journey.
Getting lost in Africa is not an experience anyone wants! To avoid this situation make sure you have access to detailed maps of your route and any destinations you plan on visiting. GPS systems work well but can quickly drain their batteries so consider buying an external power bank or solar charger if your travels require longer distances of navigation assistance. A simple compass is also very useful should you find yourself completely off grid – always consult with
Make sure you check out the rest of our blog for more great tips on amazing African vacations.