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I Can't Believe How Little Luggage I Can Bring On My 10-Day Trip To Tanzania


under armour duffel bag

I'm leaving tonight for a 10-day trip to Tanzania to visit "the best hotel in the world" and some lesser-known game reserves in the southern part of the country.

Normally for a trip that long, I'd pack a giant suitcase filled with two weeks worth of clothing, accessories, and toiletries.

But since I'll be flying around the country on small charter flights, I've been told to pack lightly. Very lightly.

Coastal Aviation, the airline company I'm flying, has a maximum luggage size of 10 x 12 x 24 about the size of a soccer duffel and a maximum luggage weight of 33 pounds, including camera equipment and a carry-on. And there's not much wiggle room, since "the pilot has a pocket scale to check," according to literature I was sent before the trip.

Of course, the strict limits are all about keeping passengers safe. The charter planes, which can seat 15 to 30 people, take off from and land on bush airstrips, and pilots must take weight into account when planning their flights.

Alison Nolting, co-founder of The Africa Adventure Company, said that many people felt actually "liberated" by packing so lightly.

But for those who can't bear the thought of leaving home without a few extra pairs of shoes, there's another option: buy an extra seat on the charter flight. Spare seats usually cost around $150 per leg, although prices vary depending on flight time, Nolting said.

Packing lightly turned out to be easier than I expected it to be, once I found the right gear. For one thing, safari camps and lodges are casual places, even when they're ultra-luxury retreats. For another, the camps I'm staying at all offer daily laundry service for guests.

safari stuff

There are, of course, a few non-negotiables on the packing list for a safari in Tanzania:

  • For game drives, khaki and light-colored clothing is recommended. Dark blue and black attract the tse tse flies, so I'm leaving my jeans at home. I've also been told to avoid camouflage, since it's usually only worn by military and government officials in Tanzania.

  • A wide-brimmed hat is absolutely essential for protection from the sun, as is a high-SPF sunscreen. I'm not much of a hat person, but I picked up a Columbia hat with sun protection and fabric that promises "advanced cooling."

  • Binoculars are suggested for every traveler in order to see game on game drives. And sharing isn't recommended, since no one wants to travel to Tanzania only to miss a fleeting glimpse of an elephant cub or crocodile. The best binoculars can cost $200 or more, but I picked up a waterproof pair with 10x magnification at REI for $27.

  • Malaria pills are strongly recommended for travelers, since the mosquito-borne disease exists in all parts of Tanzania, according to the CDC.

  • A Yellow Fever vaccine isn't required for people who are only visiting Tanzania, but it is required for travelers coming from another country with a risk of Yellow Fever transmission, according to the CDC. If you get the vaccine (I did), don't forget to bring your vaccination certificate with you.

  • For U.S. travelers, a passport and visa are required to visit Tanzania. A tourist visa costs $100 and is good for one year, and can be obtained at Tanzania's processing centers in New York City and Washington D.C.

You'll be able to find all my stories about the trip here.

Disclosure: Our trip to Tanzania, including travel and lodging expenses, was paid for by the Tanzania Tourist Board, The Africa Adventure Company and Singita Grumeti Group, and Coastal Aviation.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things NOT To Do While Traveling On Safari

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