The most important thing to keep in mind as you pack for an African horse safari, like mine in Botswana, is that you may be limited to a total of 44 pounds of luggage, particularly if you will be taking small charter planes between camps. This doesn't seem like much, but most camps are very casual and offer free daily laundry service. Clothing in natural colors is most appropriate for safari, though brighter colors are fine for in camp. Avoid white and camouflage.
- Medium size soft-sided duffle bag without wheels. Must meet airline carry-on requirements, even if you are checking it. I took the medium Adventure Duffle from LL Bean.
- Carry-on. I chose the Ladies Sterling Collection Tote Bag in Blue from R.J. Classics. It has lots of outside pockets to stash stuff you need to access easily while on the plane and it offers space to expand for your souvenirs on the way home.
- Camera bag. If you have a DSLR camera and several lenses, you'll want to bring a camera bag. A backpack-style or sling camera bag will hold all your gear and leave your hands free.
- Approved helmet. Helmets are required at all horseback safari camps. I brought Troxel's Dakota Traildust. It's beige with cool graphics and leather trim, VERY lightweight (important when you have weight limits) and a flexible, extended brim to protect your face and eyes from the hot sun.
- 2 pairs of breeches. I brought my favorite pairs from RJ Classics, one beige and one navy, which held up great despite riding in thigh-deep water and through acacia trees with their 3-inch spikes. You can wear jeans if you prefer, however, remember that you'll be in the saddle for at least 3 hours a day so you don't want to risk getting rubs.
- Riding shoes and half chaps. Tall boots will get wrecked so riding boots and half chaps are ideal. I brought the Ariat Terrain boots and matching Terrain half chaps. The chaps are ventilated, which kept my legs cool, and helped them dry out quickly between rides. The elastic gussets are a nice feature, particularly when your legs are swollen from sitting on a plane for 14+ hours. Take a second pair of boots if you can fit them, unless you don't mind wet feet when your boots don't have a chance to dry out completely. These boots will do double duty as hiking boots if you do walking safaris.
- Shirts. 3-4 short-sleeve cotton or cotton-blend shirts in neutral colors, such as browns, beige or leaf green. Polos are ideal. If you are visiting during the winter season, bring a lightweight long-sleeved shirt with cuffs you can roll up.
- Jacket. Mornings and evenings can be chilly, particularly when traveling in open four-wheel-drive vehicles. I brought the Ariat Portola in brown. I don't believe they have that color available anymore, but they do have black. It fit great, was the perfect weight and easy to pack--not to mention very flattering. The Ariat Vechta Softshell jacket is another good option.
- Socks. 3-4 pairs. I recommend those that will dry quickly.
- Bandanas. 2. I wear them under my helmet to absorb sweat and keep my helmet from getting stinky.
- Gloves. I brought a pair of crochet-back gloves but unfortunately lost them before I got to use them. I was fine without them and probably better off, particularly when photographing from the saddle.
- Sandals. I brought the Explorer Sandal from LL Bean. It provided plenty of coverage while being lightweight and very comfortable. In addition, they can be worn in the water or in the shower.
- Pants. 2 pair of lightweight khaki, brown or tan cargo pants that can be rolled up into capris or zipped off into shorts. I kept mine rolled during the day and down at night to protect my ankles from mosquitoes.
- Shirts. Your riding shirts will probably be all you need.
- Hat. Bring a ballcap or packable hat with a brim.
- Underwear. 3-4 pairs are sufficient. I brought several quick-dry nylon pairs that I could rinse out, if necessary. Be aware that the staff at some camps will not wash underwear due to prevailing local traditions, though I did not encounter this in any of the camps I visited.
- Belt. Useful to attach a small point-and-shoot camera case while riding or during other activities.
- Swimsuit. Most camps have at least a plunge pool. Most pools I encountered were not heated, but were comfortable once submerged.