Camping Safari In Tanzania: What To Expect & What To Pack

Planning a camping safari is an exciting but daunting task. I definitely learned that when I was researching for my trip last year and ran into a lot of questions that I could not find the answers to. Most of the blogs on the subject focus on the glamping type of camping safari, which is quite a bit different in terms of expectations, what you’ll be sleeping in/on, and exactly what you need to pack.

In this post, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions I had about camping safaris, so you can be thoroughly prepared for your trip and have the best time.

What Does A Camping Site Look Like?

When I talk about the camping site I mean a dedicated field with usually three buildings: toilets & showers in one, a kitchen where the food is prepared and a canteen where food is served.

You will be staying in campsites in the national park and animals will walk around. So be aware, stay calm and don’t panic.

The tents will be set up after the drive and the cook will then start with the food. You can always give them a hand if you want them to go ahead and start cooking. Or pack up in the morning so you can leave on time.

What Type of Tent Will I Sleep In?

If you go on a camping safari, chances are you’ll stay in pop-up style tents. They come with a mat, pillow, and sleeping bag, though this depends on your operator, and are assembled daily by your guide/cook. Note that some sleeping bags come with broken zippers, I do recommend bringing a travel sheet bag, or even a single bedding, that you can use just in case. 

What Are The Showers Like At A Safari Campsite?

The camping sites have basic showers that sometimes have warm water during the day (most of them depend on solar power), but I wouldn’t count on it and at some point, a cold shower is all you’ll want. The showers themselves are what you see at very basic camping sites in Europe and get cleaned a few times a day. Do bring slippers as around breakfast and dinner there is a rush hour and the places get wet as everyone is trying to shower.

What’s The Toilet Situation Like?

 Camping sites have seated as well as squat toilets and all have toilet showers (bidet showers). Toilet paper is minimal and runs out throughout the day so I do recommend you bring a roll with you, especially if you don’t feel comfortable with the built-in toilet showers. Don’t use wet tissues as the pipes are not made for them and they can clog up the toilets, and yes, that even includes the ones that say they are compostable.

During safari drives, you can make use of the toilets at the park entrance… or go in the wilderness. It might be embarrassing for some at first, but you’ll get used to it. Make sure you let your guide know on time as they usually need a while to secure a spot with a bit of privacy and triple check there are no lions or leopards hiding in the grass. 

Internet & WiFi At The Camping Sites

Some sites had 1 hour of free internet, some had unlimited internet in the main area and others didn’t have anything. Don’t worry you’ll be too busy with the surroundings to miss being online.

What Is It Like Sleeping In A Tent On Safari? 

The idea is scary and your imagination will run wild when you start hearing noises, like is it a zebra or buffalo walking outside? But as you’re exhausted, you’ll be asleep in no time and then wake up to a giant bird walking around and stories about how there was a hyena on the site just a few hours ago.

It gets cold during the night and early morning in the dry period (September / October), especially near Ngorongoro. For reference, I had a thermal shirt, socks, and beanie and was comfortable. I’d have a fleece for the morning and take it off once it got warmer.

What Type of Luggage Should I Go For?

I read a lot of suitcase vs backpack debates and decided to go for a backpack as it was much easier to take from jeep to tent and back as the roads are not made for a suitcase. Also, our jeep would not be able to handle 5 suitcases + all the gear so I was happy most of us had backpacks.

What Extra Items Should I Pack?

My headlight was the best thing I brought with me. As was the sheet bag as the zipper to my sleeping bag was broken. 

I was also happy that I brought a beanie with me as it kept me warm during the cold nights (this was the end of September and might not be the same when you visit during other months).

What Kind Of Food Should I Expect On My Budget camping Safari? 

My friends and I thought we’d get served similar dishes every meal, but the food that was prepared during the camping safari was very varied, and, most importantly, delicious. For breakfast, we got toast, pancakes, and omelets with a lot of toppings, followed by a fruit platter for your daily dose of vitamins.

Lunch was a pre-packed lunch box with a piece of chicken, bread or a frittata, fruit, juice, and something sweet like a biscuit or chocolate. At Kiliholidays – the company I went with – there was a lot of variety with the sides. Even if you are a picky eater you’ll find there is more than enough to eat.

For dinner, we had soup to start followed by the main course. This was usually a pasta, rice, and potato dish with a Tanzanian touch. And again, a delicious fruit platter for dessert. And there would also be popcorn or fried peanuts as a pre-snack if you couldn’t wait to tuck in.

What About Snacks On Safari Drives?

You might be wondering about bringing snacks onboard the jeeps – I know I did – and the answer is yes you can. But honestly, you get enough snacks in your lunchbox that will keep you filled until dinner and with the driving around and spotting animals you don’t even have time to think about snacking. 

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