Essential Packing List for an Africa Overland Trip

Posted on November 17, 2011 by

As I start my overland journey through Southern Africa, I need to make sure I’ve packed all the essential items for the wilderness. I’ll be spending more than a month bush camping and traveling in areas with limited electricity and water supply, so it’s important to make sure I’ve got everything I’ll possibly need. On this trip, we’ll be sand boarding on dunes in Namibia, going on game drives at dawn, canoeing in the Okavango Delta and swimming near the Victoria Falls – that means I’ll need quite a versatile set of gear. But I’ve always been a light traveler and seriously hate lugging a heavy backpack so I’m also trying my best to keep it to a minimum. These are the essentials I’ll be carrying with me:

Hummingbird Carousel Zip 75L Dry Bag

I’m a big fan of dry bags, having used them while kayaking in Alaska, diving in Borneo and simply for the bad weather in the Arctic. As Hummingbird’s new ambassador, I’ve picked the Carousel Zip 75L dry bag to test out on this trip. Unlike the 15L dry bag that I usually use, this one has a much higher capacity so I’ve packed it like a suitcase. The Carousel Zip travel bag is fitted with RF-welded seams and fully submersible zippers, that means even if all my belongings end up in the sea, they’ll stay completely dry (we’ll just have to find out!). Comparing it with my Quechua 60L expedition cargo bag, the Carousel Zip is much lighter despite having a larger volume. One disadvantage though, is the lack of zips within the bag so it’s hard to compartmentalize my gear.

Lowepro Photo Sport 200AW Camera Bag

In my travels, I often carry my DSLR while doing rigorous outdoor activities. To fully protect my camera, I’ve been searching high and low for a camera bag that can double as a hiking backpack and it’s been tough – most hiking bags don’t have a fitted camera compartment while camera bags are usually too bulky for hiking. I was extremely excited when a friend introduced me to this bag. The Photo Sport 200AW fits a standard sized DSLR with extended lens attached as well as a flash – best of all, the side camera pocket is easily accessible with a quick rotation of the pack – slide, unzip and click! It also has a hydration pack compartment, straps for trekking poles and pockets for a jacket, cell phone, hat etc. I’ll be testing this out for the first time as well, looking forward to see how it works.

ASUS Eee Pad Slider SL101

With the amount of time I’ll be spending in hush terrain, I’ve left my TOSHIBA laptop at home and opted for my ASUS Eee Pad Slider instead. It’s light, small and easy to carry around, and functions ALMOST as well as a full-sized laptop. I’ve just tested it out on the road in London – while I haven’t been fully satisfied with its ability to capture internet signals, I’ve rather enjoyed typing on its built-in keyboard. The touch screen works magically, while its IPS panel makes magazine-viewing all the more appealing. It also has a USB port and MicroSD Card Reader, which will allow me to edit photos on the road. I’ll probably have close to zero internet connection on this overland trip, so I’ll mostly be using the slider to type out notes and catch up on some reading.

Canon 450D with a Tamron 70-300mm lens

I’ve been traveling with the Canon 450D for a few years now, and it’s my absolute essential travel companion these days. Alberto (my husband) is definitely the better travel photographer, but thanks to him, I’ve also learned a trick or two about photography. We’ve recently bought the Tamron 70-300mm lens to improve our pictures’ quality, and it’s proven to be excellent especially when taking wildlife shots. A DSLR definitely works wonders if you’re into photography.

Fujifilm XP10 Shockproof, Waterproof and Freezeproof Camera

When out on a kayak or whitewater rafting, this Fujifilm waterproof camera has been very useful for taking videos and underwater photos. While its quality is definitely a far cry from any DSLR, it’s extremely convenient for all types of conditions – I’ve used it underwater in 2degC Arctic water, while whitewater rafting in Iceland and canyoning (and cliff-jumping) in the Pyrenees.

Layers and Rain Jacket

Summer in Southern Africa means unbearably hot days (temperature around 30degC) and slightly chilly nights (15degC). I’ve packed clothes that are easy to layer: singlets, tank tops, long sleeve pullovers and light jackets with shorts and cargo pants. We’ll be camping out for the majority of the trip, so I’ll be bringing clothes that are ready to hit the bin. Of course my trusty Indiana Jones hat will be coming along – always there to protect me from the sun. A rain jacket is essential as well, I usually carry my Mountain Hard Wear Softshell Jacket – lightweight yet protective.

Compressible Pillow and Sleeping Bag

While I don’t usually carry an inflatable pillow or cushion with me when I travel, I’ve decided to try out Hummingbird’s Compressible Pillow just to try it out. I should be using it quite a bit since we’ll be camping for over 14 nights. Unlike usual compressible pillows, this one is made up of a highly compressible foam and a micro-fiber top that allows the pillow to be rolled into a very small integrated sleeve – making it light and easy to carry! I’ve also packed my Boriken Microlight Sleeping Bag that weighs a mere 900g and designed for temperatures ranging from –3 to 7degC.

First Aid Kit

I usually travel with a tiny first aid kit, being the hobo traveler that I am. But since I’ll be traveling in malaria-affected regions, I’ve packed a lot more into the kit now with anti-malarial pills. I’ve also included anti-histamine, paracetamol, anti-diarrhea pills, insect repellent and bandaids. These are essential items since I’ll be traveling in very remote areas with no access to hospitals and medical aid.


Disclaimer: Some of these items have been sponsored, but all opinions expressed above are my own.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

7 Responses to “Essential Packing List for an Africa Overland Trip”

  1. Clare Appleyard November 18, 2011 4:30 am #

    Remember to pack some warm evening wear Nellie, it can get pretty chilly at night in the bush, and on early morning game drives, if if midday temps are peaking at 35C!
    Insect repellant will come in handy too, we always use Tabard.

    • Nellie Huang November 22, 2011 2:32 am #

      hey Clare, just talked to Sarah (Duff) about you today! We missed you in Cape Town. :) Yes, packed my parka and fleece- should be good for the chilly nights. 2 bottles of insect repellant as well! :)

  2. Adam Kennedy November 19, 2011 4:06 am #

    I'd be interested to hear how your trip goes. I did an 'Ultimate Trans Africa' overland trip last year: 30 countries in 43 weeks…from Marrakesh, down the west coast to Cape Town then back up the east to Cairo and on into Jordan, Syria and Turkey. It was intense (it should that be, 'in tents'?). If you have any questions or need any advice I'm happy to help.

  3. Simon Gove November 29, 2011 3:26 am #

    Very interested in the Eee Pad for my travels. Beats typing on a touchscreen or carrying my full size laptop.

    • Nellie January 16, 2012 10:42 pm #

      Yes it's really quite useful – it works like an ipad, but it also has a comfortably fitted keyboard.


  1. Overlanding in Africa - July 24, 2012

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