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  • Shelley Dark

2. Packing for Africa

If you came with me to Japan, you know that I've decided to pack 'light' for every trip. I cannot tell you how liberating it is. I keep wondering what I used to pack that weighed so much! 

BOOKED LUGGAGE: I bought this small soft-sided grey Samsonite carryon suitcase, which itself weighs only 1.5kg. Fully packed as above it weighs 7.5kg and I'll book it through. 

CARRYON BAG: I'll take my MacBook Pro laptop, charger and my camera in this old Longchamp Le Pliage bag (what great value - it has to be at least 12 years old and it's my standard carry on)  with a change of clothes and makeup in case the booked bag goes astray. This is 4.7kg. 

HANDBAG: This grey leather tote with a zipped leather insert for money which attaches inside the bag. I don't usually do it, but this time I'll wear my passport, credit cards and some cash in a pigskin money belt under my top.

I'm sticking to my usual grey/taupe/beige.  

CAPETOWN IN AUGUST                                                  JOHANNESBURG IN AUGUST

The game parks should be typical spring weather: pleasant 20's during sunny days and a little chilly on the drives morning and evening. August is one of the coolest and dampest of the year in Cape Town, so we need to be prepared for some rain and cold evenings. Johannesburg will be a little warmer and drier.

Cole Haan Goretex shoes, Jac and Jack charcoal cashmere jumper, charcoal Elk pants, Gran Sasso spotted top, Alessandra cashmere orange scarf (on second thoughts will probably leave this out as a bit too bright), Witchery cap, Himba bracelets. 

I'll take fairly basic pants and long-sleeved tops. Including what I wear on the plane I'm taking 4 pants, 6 tops, 2 jumpers, a puffer jacket, 2 scarves, waterproof Goretex walking boots and some flats, undies, nightie, makeup, cap or hat, techno gear. Give or take the odd item at the last minute. Finito. 

Tods gommino shoes, Fabiana Fillipi top, Transit pants, Brunello Cucinelli belt. I can wear the top with the cashmere scarf as a throw around my shoulders or with the puffer jacket, or either of the jumpers.

Fabiana Fillipi grey top, Fabiaba Fillipi cashmere jumper (there's a matching scarf), and Piazza Sempione pants.

This dressier Fabiana Fillipi top goes back with the Piazza Sempione pants or the charcoal ones.

Marc Cain track pants, Zambesi top on left, Fabiana Fillipi scarf on right.

 The Transit pants and BC belt will go back with the Zambesi top.

 An Alexander Wang linen long sleeved t-shirt with the Marc Cain track pants.

Both jumpers are light cashmere, with shaped necklines. I might take a light cashmere wrap as well. 

I'm not taking a good jacket this time - just this Marc Cain super soft down jacket which I washed in the washing machine yesterday and then put in the dryer with two supplied tennis balls as per the instructions on the label. (!) Worked a treat except the down has decided to have little meetings here and there in the quilting rather than being totally spread out as they were before the wash.  It still seems very warm though, and it weighs nothing. 

This is what it looks like when it's in its bag. And for a raincoat, I'll take a folding umbrella and a couple of those disposable clear ponchos you get at Coles. I probably won't even take the watch - I'll just use my phone.

I won't forget my power board so I can recharge several things at once.

Clothes weren't actually my first concern for Africa. It took me a while to make the camera gear decision. SLR and lenses or super zoom. There's game to photograph after all. I'm still not totally convinced and change my mind every other day.

The photo above shows my trusty super-zoom camera, a Sony DSC-HX200V with a Carl Zeiss 29-870mm lens. Although it could never match the performance of an SLR, I'll have the comfort of knowing that I will always have the right lens on the camera, its autofocus is good although not fast, and it produces a fair result even in low light. And of course, for most of the time as usual I'll use my I-phone 7 plus. 

You have to have soft luggage for flying into African game reserves on light aircraft. Make sure you check what weight you are allowed, because it will probably be less than the allowance by the international carrier you arrived on.  The two charter companies we are flying with allow (15kg + 6kg), a total of 21 kg. There are luggage storage facilities at most big airports if you need to store a big (hard) suitcase while you are at a game lodge, or you could probably leave it at your point-of-departure hotel.

We're going to have our bags wrapped before flights at the airports. I usually work on the premise that if you have your bag wrapped you look as if you have something worth taking, so I've never done it. But a local (and also DFAT) gave me a heads up that it's common to have belongings missing at the destination if you don't.

To see (and download if you like) my detailed packing list, CLICK HERE

So that's it buddies! We're packed! I have room to put in a few school supplies for the children at the school in KwaZulu-Natal.  

I have registered our travel details with DFAT - the Department of Foreign Affairs - you can do it to include everyone in your party provided you have their passport details etc. This link will take you to the page click here. Scroll half way down for 'register your travel plans'.

You can also subscribe to travel bulletins for the countries you are travelling to, and if there are any problems at the holiday destination, you'll get an email telling you what's happening.

While I was on their website I looked again at the advice for South Africa.

Hmmm. Casting about for something to wear that might put criminals off extorting us.

This outfit should confuse them. Not to mention confusing Helen. 😉 No I'm only joking.

I won't wear any jewellery.

My next post, next week, will be from Africa! Don't forget to check your junk mail or spam if you don't receive the email links.  Sometimes they go in junk, sometimes servers block them as spam before they get to you.  But if worse comes to worst, you can just check the website each day and password IdreamofAfrica. And please don't forget to leave comments if you feel like it please - I love to read them.

photo courtesy Mashatu 

Let me leave you with a quote I love.

I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy. 

- Ernest Hemingway 

shelley dark, writer 

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