Africa Overland Tours

What to Pack for an Overland Tour in Africa

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You will not need a fire-starter on an Africa overland tour, nor will you need a compass, an emergency blanket or the loudest whistle in the world for when animals are chasing you. That being said, no harm in having emergency supplies such as a first aid kit which will usually have some of these. Point is, when considering what to pack for an overland tour in Africa, the same rules apply as anywhere else in the world – take as much as you need but as little as possible.

However, here are just a few things to keep in mind when packing for an overland tour in Africa:

What to pack for an Overland Tour in Africa

Osprey Exos 58

The Backpack

Firstly, although it will stay on the truck for the majority of your Africa overland tour, a suitcase is always a bad idea for the reason that they are big, bulky and take up a lot of space. This matters on the truck especially when it’s a big group and having a backpack like everyone else will not only make it more convenient for when you do need to carry it somewhere, but it will also mean you are not taking up too much space.

Sports bags are fine but the best option when packing for an overland tour is always the backpack as these are much easy to move about and can take a lot of wear and tear. It doesn’t need to be expensive but make sure its waterproof and if it comes with a detachable day-pack, all the better.

My absolute favourite backpack is the Osprey Exos 58 which is by far the most compact backpack suitable for an overland tour. Unless you are moving house, this should also have enough space for everything you need. Furthermore, the reason I like this bag so much is because it is perfect for hiking or taking camping trips – you will be using it after the tour you know!

PS. Any chanced you wanted to know how to choose the best Overland Tour in Africa?

Sleeping Bag / Sleeping Quilt

Trust me, you want a good sleeping bag – it will be the one item you use every night and it will be the difference between getting a good nights sleep or freezing your ass off. Yes, it can get cold in Africa and rather than forking out on a heap of blankets when you get here, be careful with what to pack for an overland tour in Africa and invest in a good sleeping bag.

As a rule, go with a four season sleeping bag – its better to be too warm than too cold.

During my time as a tour leader, the best two options I have come across have come from manufacturers in the United States. First up, we have the Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 degree sleeping bag and secondly, the Revelation 20 degree Sleeping Quilt which is what I am picking up for my next great outdoor adventure. They may cost a pretty penny but these bad boys are for life.


Sleep is of the highest importance on an overland tour so unless the tour operator provides a sleeping mattress (Makre sure you check), you will definitely need a decent thermarest. Personally, I hate having to inflate and deflate one every day so the best option I have found is the Therma-Rest Z Lite on Amazon. It beats the hell out of your average foam roll up mattress and they are very small to carry around.

Last of all – a pillow, my god, don’t forget the pillow but you can buy this in a supermarket on the first day of your tour.

Derek Cullen

Footwear and clothing

What clothes to bring on an overland tour in Africa? Here’s the thing, people always take too much with them the first time around. Avoid anything military style and don’t feel like you need to have special safari clothing because you don’t. Lightweight clothing is always great, some warmer wear for cool mornings/evenings, a rain-jacket and even jeans, again – it can get cold in Africa.

As for the shoes, bring flip-flops (jandals) as well as a pair of shoes for trekking but don’t sweat on this, normal trainers will do just fine. Again, avoid expensive clothing and take what appears to be practical. For anyone going on safari, take neutral colours and avoid having only black/blue as the tsetse flies love this colour in places such as the Serengeti.

In saying that, my favourite piece of clothing of all time is the North Face Gor-Tex Shell which you see me wearing absolutely everywhere. I have never invested in a good jacket before but this is something I have never regretted.

Head Torch

This is one item you will use every morning and every night. In fact, you will use this during the day too as you try to find items in your backpack or inside the tent. Specifically, a head torch is what you want for so many reasons. They are small and fit perfectly in your hand but they are also perfect for when putting up or taking down the tent when it’s dark. This happens and you will need your hands-free. Picking up a nice cheap head torch in Wallmart is cool but you will find a high-quality specimen will save you headaches.

There are many out there but my favourite is the Black Diamond Spot which I am buying for my next long distance trek.


You most likely already have the camera, laptop, phone and other electronics but let me just touch on the one item you should definitely pick up – the powerbank. On an overland tour you will always be looking for the next power point and on a drive day, even competing with others to get your hands on a free socket. Save yourself a heap of time and pick one of these up – most notably, the following beast:

Anker Powerbank

An absolute must and do not leave home without it. The best powerbank I have ever come across is my next one, the Anker Powercore 20100. Don’t bother skimping on price to get the lower capacity – you will need as much as you can. Power banks are the one item I use the most on trip and this is because everything is on my smartphone – which needs power. However, you will obviously use t for your ipod, ipad, kindle and whatever else. Just do yourself a favour and pick this one up!

Most Important items for your packing list




UV lip balm

Anti malaria tablets

Sunscreen/insect repellent

Head-torch with batteries

What to consider



Alarm clock

Travel adapter

Toilet paper

Ear plugs

Hardrive, laptop, USB

What to pack for an overland tour in Africa

Obviously there is a lot more you will need when sitting down to thing about what to pack for an overland tour in Africa, but this should be a good start but as an overland tour leader in Africa, I can tell you that I see people make the same mistakes on every trip by taking too many items they just don’t need. If you should have any questions about overland tours in Africa in general or what to pack for an overland tour, please feel free to leave comments below or contact me directly.

Enjoy your tour, and thank you to everyone who “bought me a cup of tea” as encouragement for putting out the content on this website!

Derek Cullen is an experienced overland tour leader in Africa. He is best known for cycling across Africa and writing about travel in Africa for many online media publications. If you would like advice or information for your trip to Africa, you can speak with him directly through the LiveChat box!


  1. D of Love C and D

    April 2, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    A useful post and definitely true. During our travels this year we saw so many people with ginormous bags or wheelie suitcases in situations where a small backpack was needed. I think a lot of people don’t really Africa gets cold at night too! Thanks for sharing.

  2. ada

    April 3, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Great and useful post ! I would love to visit Africa soon! Such an amazing land ! Thank you for sharing your tips! ( I wouldn’t think Africa can get cold 🙂 )

  3. Halef (the Round The World Guys)

    April 4, 2017 at 11:17 am

    My good friend Anthony did his overland African tour a few years back, and ever since hearing his stories, I always plan on doing this someday! Thank you for some of the pointers. My guilty pleasure of traveling is to always bring my regular pillow from home (I know what you light packers are thinking), so I can’t imagine of not having it. LOL at the tsetse flies with blue/black clothing – who knew?
    Again thanks for sharing –

    the Round The World Guys

  4. sophie

    April 14, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Those are some of the very essential items you gotta pack! I wonder if you get any few of these then it may ruin so much in your trip! because in Africa certain things you actually can’t think about getting it and buying.

    Thanks for this list mate, It will be so helpful for my next trip!

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  7. Kanika Bakshi

    September 1, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Hey! very useful information and true that. the backpack what you carry must be worth it and a country like Africa with overland is a mess wow.. this was super detailed… Now I want to tour Africa even though I am in Africa. Can’t wait for you to visit West Africa!! It’s the best continent!!! africa is one of the best places in the world to visit. explore, enjoy, wildlife, weather everything is perfect

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