Airline Luggage Considerations
In addition to understanding your International flight luggage regulations, understand what the space/weight requirements are if you have to take a Regional flight and/or are flying into a bush camp on a small plane.
- Regional flights usually limit weights to just over 30 pounds.
- Talk to your PH or booking agent about what works best…he may suggest you forego an extra large wheeled duffel and take a medium and large sized bag instead as they are easier to store in the bush plane.
Airline Approved Ammo Cases
For flights into South Africa, you now have to check your ammo in a locking metal case. You are permitted to take up to 11 pounds (5 Kilos) of ammo. We now offer the Strongcase® locking ammo boxes that can hold 4-6 boxes of big bore ammo so you can comply with this new regulation. Check your airlines website for their ever changing ammo policies.
Carry Essentials Separately
Get a hydration backpack and put as many high value/small sized items in there along with all your other essential items such as extra copies of important documents, prescriptions, cameras, binoculars, extra scopes, and reading or viewing material for the trip over and back, etc.
Maximize Space Available
- Pack in clear plastic bags with zippers and label all of them so you can find everything easily.
- If you plan to leave clothing behind in Africa pack them using vacuum bags so you can carry more over.
- Remember to roll your clothing and stuff any empty space with socks or underwear.
- Travel with as much gear as possible on your person…sunglasses, your hat, boots, etc as that frees up valuable space/weight in your luggage and may be the difference between having, versus wishing for the gear you need.
- If forced to prioritize between clothing and gear, go a bit lighter on the clothing, especially if your accommodations include daily laundry service.
- Passport-check expiration date and make a copy of it. (Travel to South Africa requires 4 empty pages)
- Itinerary and plane tickets (make an extra copy of them)
- Medical/Shot Records
- Insurance information for trip
- Emergency Evacuation Information
- Hunt Contract
- Customs form 4457 for firearms (check that serial numbers match again)
- Customs Broker/Taxidermy Tags
- Procure cash and travelers checks
- Pictures of all luggage/belongings-opened and closed.
- Extra copies of itinerary, PH contact information and all other paperwork left at home and office.
- Call your credit card company and let them know where you will be and for how long so they do not shut off your cards
More than any other section, the gear and information found in this section can make the difference between a safe and enjoyable experience and a difficult one. This gear also provides you with the biggest bang for your buck as most are relatively low cost and do not take up much space. As an added benefit, leaving some of these items behind will always be appreciated by your PH.
- Once you know your destination, make an appointment with a Doctor who specializes in Tropical diseases so you can get all the immunizations, malaria drugs and other medications required. Some of these medicines take time to become effective, so do not wait until the last minute.
- While it may not be as convenient as going to your regular Doctor, if you pick up something up in Africa you will probably need to see a specialist anyway so you might as well establish that relationship in advance. On a related note, depending on where you are hunting, you may want to make an appointment with that same Doctor soon after you return so you can get in quickly if you are ailing. If you feel fine, you can always cancel your appointment in plenty of time for them to fill that time slot.
- Prescription medicines-get your Dr to write you two prescriptions, each one for at least what you will need while over there and keep them in the original containers. Put one in your luggage and one in your carry-on pack
- If you are not accustomed to taking pills or need to take certain ones more than once a day, buy a pill organizer at your local drug store that you can fill upon arrival in camp so you make sure you do not miss a dose. Especially important for malaria pills.
- Call your cell phone provider and see if they can add the international access needed to your existing phone. If that is not feasible, consider renting a satellite phone so you can stay connected. In either case, make sure you take instructions on how to make a call with you.
- Scan and e-mail all essential documents to both yourself and the PH. This will make sure you are covered two ways in case you lose them.
- Bring extra batteries for flashlights, cameras, etc.
- Bring a 220 to 110 volt converter for charging video cameras, phones, etc.
The numbers below correspond to our Essential Gear Checklist (Download)
1. Bug Repellent
- A week prior to your departure, we suggest you treat your shoes, pants and shirts using the 24 oz Permethren spray bottle. Permethren is not for use on your skin, but kills bugs on contact if you treat your clothes prior to departure. One application lasts for 45 days or 6 washings-whichever comes first.
- Picaridin lasts for 14 hours and will not take the finish off of your gun or harm nylon like DEET. It is also better at repelling all types of biting flies.
- We recommend SPF 30 sunscreen with DEET-FREE bug repellent for use on your face as the most popular anti-malarial medication makes you more prone to sunburn.
- We recommend AfterBite for relief from bug bites.
- We recommend impact resistant Wiley X sunglasses.
- Eye drops to flush your eyes out just in case
- Tilley Safari hats with a chin strap so it does not blow off while driving (Snap-Up Brim or Outback) styles.
- You will probably not need it, but buy Emergency Medical Evacuation Coverage. If you get into trouble, it could make all the difference in the world. We recommend Med Jet Assist.
- While the PH will probably have a first aid kit, do not leave that to chance. We strongly recommend you bring your own.
- If you are on a blood thinning medication like Coumadin, take some ChitoSAM to stop bleeding from the cuts one acquires on safari.
- Blister Kits-Bring them as we had one customer who missed half his safari and spent several thousand dollars for want of this $21 item.
4. Snake Protection
We recommend Turtleskin snake gaiters. They are approved for protection against all South African snakes and are very soft, lightweight, waterproof and breathable. They give you added peace of mind when hunting in thick bush or just walking on the path back to your tent after dinner where Puff Adders absorb the warmth the ground still holds and wait for their evening meal.
Nothing is more important to your performance and enjoyment than staying hydrated, so bring a hydration pack you can use while on the move. During my first plains game hunt we left the truck quickly without any water for what was supposed to be a short trip and returned 14 hours later after walking almost non-stop. Sucking on a stone did nothing to alleviate my thirst! This is an essential part of your gear. They also work great (with no liquid in them) to carry high value/essential gear over and back. If you are hunting during the dry season you will need to consume large volumes of water.
- We recommend the iconic Selous Safari Boot from the Courteney Boot Company. This is an extremely tough boot that will serve you well for many years. Since this is a heavy-duty boot, we suggest you purchase them at least three months in advance so you can break them in and wear them while you get in shape for your safari.
- All of the Courteney boots are cut wide. If you have a narrow/regular width foot, we now carry the Selous and two other styles in that width.
- For added support, we offer the hightly-rated SOLE insoles.
- If you are hunting in the wet season (February - April) bring two pairs of boots so you can wear one while the other dries.
- Nothing will make your feet more prone to blistering than getting them wet. For that reason we suggest you include an extra pair of socks in your pack so you have a dry pair just in case.
- If your feet do get wet, take your boots off one at a time, take your sock off, wring it out, wad them up and then stuff them into the front of the boot and step on that area with your booted foot to remove some of the excess moisture in the leather. Wring out the sock, put on a fresh one and then do the other one.
- For the above reason we suggest you bring a few pairs of thicker Rohner cushioned socks for comfort while walking long distances and a few pairs of thinner socks to compensate for the leather shrinking a bit (if you get your boots wet) as they dry.
- We also recommend Gaiters; Turtleskin if you want protection from snakes and Courteney Leather if you want the best one on the market.
- Safari Jacket
- Two Long Sleeve shirts with fasteners to keep rolled up sleeves in place
- Two Safari Pants (with zip off legs if space is an issue)
- Two Safari Shorts if space is not an issue
- Warm jacket (rain/wind proof) and heavy sweater for morning/evening wear
- Gloves and wool cap for cold mornings on the back of the truck
- Extra pair of camp shoes for after each day of hunting, we recommend the slip-on Courteney Campfire
8. Carry-on Luggage
We recommend any one of the three Courteney® Haversacks for carrying your valuables, reading materials, prescriptions and cameras.
9. Shooting Sticks
We suggest you bring the same ones you practice with back home. Invest in a set of Shooting Sticks instead of buying a cheap set every three or four years as it will be less expensive over the long run and more importantly, they will never let you down. The biggest difference between our Premium Grade offerrings and every other set on the market is that on ours, the connector is the strongest part and on all the others, it is the weakest part.
10. Safari Preparation
Perfect Shot targets, DVD’s and books are the perfect way to study shot placement for the many species you may encounter. These are available in a variety of sizes and cover a wide range of animals.
11. Ammo Carriers
For traditional one-piece, leather culling belts we offer two options; the Cradock Culling belt from Els & Co. and two versions of the African Sporting Creations Culling belt with Cape buffalo accents. If you want additional versatility, combine the adjustable Els & Co. canvas Hogsback Hunting Belt with ammo carriers that slide on the belt; the Somerset Closed or Somerset Open. If you simply want to slip extra rounds in your pocket; we recommend the Rhodes Closed and Rhodes Open.
For international flights, you now have to check your ammo in a locking metal case. Most airlines allow you to take up to 11 pounds (5 kilos) of ammo in factory packaging. We offer the Strongcase® locking ammo box that can hold 4-6 boxes of big bore ammo so you can comply with this new regulation. Check your airline for their constantly changing ammo policies before you depart.
12. Soft Cases and Slings
We suggest you bring a soft case to protect your firearm and scope from dust and damage when it is stored in the rack on the back of the truck. We recommend our Scoped Rifle or Double Rifle cases.
Wide slings make a heavy, big bore rifle more comfortable to carry. We carry a variety of them from Els & Co. We also offer padded, thumbhole slings that make for secure carrying in several different exotic hide options. The extra-wide Courteney® Cobra sling is another option.
13. Scope & Bino Carriers
We recommend the rigid leather Els & Co. scope carrier which is available in two sizes; one for longer variable scopes and a shorter model for Dangerous Game scopes. For a more affordable option, we offer a padded nylon Cordura Scope case that is ideal for when you want to take off a detachable scope in the field for follow-up shots with open sights.
We also have two options for carrying your binoculars; the elegant Els and Co. Deluxe model and a standard leather strap. You can slide both of these behind you and out of the way when you are getting ready to shoot or crawling. You cannot do this with a harness that is fixed in place on your chest.
Keep in mind that in many parts of Africa, folding knives are illegal. For that reason, we recommend a variety of fixed blades from Arno Bernard. For those who want knives that are “Safari Inspired”, we recommend the Dagga Boy Skinner or Drop Point. If you are concerned about losing your knife, we offer two new models that feature his innovative locking sheath design; the Bongo in Desert Ironwood and the Bateleur in Dyed Warthog. Please note, all four of these are ASC exclusives (only made for ASC in the USA and we reference that on our website) in case US Fish and Game asks where you purchased them.
15. Big Bore Cleaning
Even if you keep your gun cased it will become dirty. We recommend you bring our very compact Safari Cleaning Kit which is caliber specific and contains everything you need to clean your rifle in the field. If you are bringing more than one gun, order an extra set of Kynoch® Jags and Brushes.