In a couple of hours, I will be embarking on my first trip to the African continent. I will be traipsing across three countries in three weeks for work, experiencing different safari destinations to, ideally, make me a better travel planner.
As a first-timer, I must admit I have been fretting over my packing list, made all the more complex by the fact that light aircraft transfers have rigid luggage restrictions.
Being a fairly voracious reader, the first item on the agenda was to curate a selection of books that would last me the trip.
1) As my itinerary includes a week-long safari experience in Botswana, Peter Allison’s Whatever You Do, Don’t Run seemed like an obvious choice – a collection of hilarious stories from his time as a safari guide, this may actually prove useful in addition to providing comic relief.
2) Asia has always been my base, and while I have explored this region extensively, both academically and in terms of travel, I must admit that I have pretty much neglected the rest of the world. Consequently, having had very little exposure to African cultures and the continent’s history, I had to pick up Chinua Achebe’s Things Falls Apart, a seminal contribution to modern African literature.
3) Finally, Ernest Hemingway and his love for Africa continue to be a source of inspiration for travellers across the world. Coupled with the fact that I also hope to visit Tanzania and scale Kilimanjaro sometime in the future, this felt like an apt addition in spite of the slightly colonial flavour.
I realise that most of those reading this will be hoping for a ‘how to’ guide, so bearing in mind that I am in no position to dish out advice, here is a glimpse into the other contents of my soft-sided bag:
As I was preparing for this trip, I was told, “Don’t wear red and other bright colours. You will scare away the wildlife.”
“Don’t wear white, you will look like a bird,” and, as an after thought, “It also gets dirty easily.”
The packing principles that guided my vestimentary choices, hence, largely revolved around selecting clothing that already looks dirty so that half a day in the bush would not make much of a difference. I will be wearing lots of earthy greens and browns.
Other major components are the fancy gadgets that will facilitate and immortalise the safari experience. I borrowed the office binoculars and my sister’s massive DSLR. Do I know how to handle either of these? No. Yet I somehow imagine I will be able to master both after a couple of weeks in the bush, and return with beautiful memories.