Interested in learning about some additional safari items that should be nice to have on your African hunting safari?
This article is part of a series of articles on preparing to hunt in Africa. Be sure to check out the others on how to choose the right caliber for hunting in Africa, how to prepare for an African safari, proper shot placement, and the importance of follow up shots.
When packing equipment for a safari there are many important items that immediately come to mind: rifle, ammunition, camera, binoculars, etc. However, there are many other items that can make or break your safari, but are not as immediately obvious. Unfortunately, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way in the past. Hopefully, you can learn from my lessons and use them to better prepare for your safari.
Protection From The Sun
Probably the most important thing that I can recommend to a prospective hunter going to Africa is to prepare for extended periods of time in the sun. To accomplish this, ensure you pack long sleeved clothes, a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. On my first African safari, I traveled to Namibia in July, which is during the winter there. Since I equated winter in Texas (cool and cloudy) to winter in Namibia (cool and sunny), I failed to prepare properly for the abundance of sun and suffered severe sunburns as a result.
I brought a baseball cap and sunglasses to Namibia, but that was the extent of my preparation for dealing with the sun. Since I did not enjoy the protection provided by a wide brimmed hat, the back of my neck and tips of my ears got a disproportionate amount of sun. In addition, since I was used to hunting deer in east Texas, I was very conscious of minimizing any odors from my gear or my body. In line with this way of thinking, I did not wear sunscreen because I did not want the animals to smell it. In retrospect, those were pretty stupid moves on my part and I paid the price accordingly. You can see how sunburned I was starting to get in the photo below (center).
However, I made sure I did not repeat those mistakes when I returned to Africa a couple of years later. I wore a wide brimmed hat, long sleeved clothes, and sunscreen at all times. As a result, I did not receive any sunburns and my hunt was much more enjoyable in that regard. In addition, since the professional hunter (PH) and I were always careful to hunt with the wind in our favor, the scent of sunscreen was not noticed by any of the game that we stalked.
Protection From Bugs
Another thing to keep in mind is to take all possible precautions against bug bites. Wearing long sleeved clothes is a good start. Make sure that your shirt is tucked in and your pant legs are tucked into your boots if possible. In addition, wear some sort of bug repellent, DEET works best, on all exposed skin. This will not only deter mosquitoes from biting, but will also reduce the chances of bites from other insects as well as ticks. Finally, sleep indoors, in a tent, or with a mosquito net to prevent mosquito bites during the night.
On my most recent trip to South Africa, my wife and I both used a combination sunscreen and bug repellent. It worked very well for both purposes. The only complaint I had is that it is a little rough on the skin, so I don’t recommend using it on your face. However, it’s a good choice for the neck, arms, legs, etc.
Take Care Of Your Rifle
Furthermore, ensure that you bring the appropriate equipment to take care of your rifle on the hunt. I use a very sturdy, hard rifle case to transport my rifles on airline trips. That works great for the flight. However, the hard rifle case is simply too large and unwieldy to carry around daily. I really wish I would have brought a soft rifle case (or a gun “sock”) to protect my rifle during the many hours I’ve spent driving around looking for a spot to pick up the trail of game.
On top of a soft rifle case, make sure you bring the appropriate materials to clean your rifle in the field. During my trip to Zimbabwe, I was hunting during the wet season and it rained several times during the trip. Fortunately, I brought a bore snake and a rag to clean my rifle with, which turned out to be a good decision. I borrowed some gun oil from the PH and was able to clean my rifle on a daily basis. This not only ensured that it worked properly when I needed it, but it prevented any rust from accumulating on my rifle during the two week safari.
Another item to consider is a medical kit. Your PH should carry a first aid kit to deal with any injuries that occur during the hunt. However, it is to your benefit to bring along medicine such as Tylenol/Motrin/Asprin, Ciprofloxacin, Loperamide (Imodium A-D), and Pepto-Bismol. This is of course in addition to any prescription drugs that you regularly take and any anti-malarial drugs necessary for the area you are hunting.
Hunting is a physical sport and bumps, scrapes, and bruises are part of the cost of doing business. After a couple of days of hard hunting, you will wish you had some pain medication for sore joints and muscles. Also, even if you are careful, it’s still possible to get traveler’s diarrhea. If that happens, you’ll wish you had some Cipro or Imodium to make you feel better instead of spending several days laid up sick on your safari.
When you are preparing for your hunt, keep in mind that it will typically be the little things that are the difference between a good and a bad trip. A good idea is to make a list of items that you think you will need over the course of several weeks prior to the hunt. This will aid greatly in identifying all of the little “ankle biter” things that you may need on your hunt.
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If you liked this article, you’ll probably enjoy my articles on how to choose the right caliber for hunting in Africa, how to prepare for an African safari, proper shot placement, and the importance of follow up shots.