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Nicky’s Safari Essentials

24 February 2016 | Safari Style |

There are tons of stories out there about "what to pack on safari" and they're all just about as drab and dull as the next. One person who has quite clearly nailed it and looks fresh and stylish every time is Nicky Fitzgerald


There are tons of stories out there about “what to pack on safari” and they’re all just about as drab and dull as the next. It’s fair to say that I’ve experienced more African travel in the past year than all the previous years of my life put together and I’m starting to learn that one can be stylish and sensible at the same time but I’ve still got some way to go…

One person, who quite clearly has nailed it when it comes to “what to pack on safari” and still looks fresh and stylish, is Nicky Fitzgerald. With 30 years of African travel under her belt, I watch in astonishment as she heaves bag after bag to the check-in counter. What has she packed this time I wonder?

Nicky in the Mara with hat

I asked Nicky to spill the beans for her long-suffering LOTDP readers. First and foremost what’s ideal for a 2-week safari? And how do you manage to never do ‘bum in the air’ at the airport check in desk?

I have to come clean here. First and foremost I am a world-class petty smuggler. I have been doing this for years – generator spare parts, plumbing contraptions, light bulbs; you name it I have schlepped it across Africa. So first into the bag goes ‘stuff for ops’ and squished around that white tops and khaki bottoms and black for evening chic (which I never get to wear but still faithfully pack. Hope springs eternal). I don’t have to do ‘bum in the air’ because I just smile sweetly as the scale skyrockets. It works … most of the time. 

Next is the all important question of how do I arrive at my destination without looking and feeling like I’m wearing clothes from 2 days ago and in need of a serious makeover?

That’s easy – a fresh white T-shirt fancied up under a snappy Zara gilet. Spin a scarf around your neck and way to go. I don’t do ‘gorgeous ropes of amber’, sadly.

Then there’s the dilemma of the hat. I always want to take one but by the time I get to my destination it’s squashed, battered and dirty. What’s your secret?

I know it’s cheating but I leave my beloved Akubra at Angama Mara. Man, but that is a hat and a half. I also have a safari hat that easily wedges between dried mango, Quinoa, coconut flour and Harissa paste (essentials for our chefs) and then bingo pops back into shape. Hats perform miracles in disguising ‘safari hair’.

When it comes to clothing its usually four seasons in one day with chilly mornings and evenings and baking sun in the middle of the day. How do you deal with all the temperature change with limited luggage space?

Only one answer: Uniqlo puffer jackets. Long sleeves, sleeveless, black, bronze and olive green all stuffed into their snappy baggies and perfect for protecting those little decanters that the lodge absolutely has to have at once.

Uniqlo collage

Then there are the shoes. You need comfy for the flight, hardy for a walking safari, flip-flops for the pool and a couple of pairs for day and evening. How do you get away with not packing more than 6 pairs?

I am a shoe slut. My weakness. I sacrifice clothes space for shoe space. Anyway the lodge has a 4-hour turn around laundry service so who needs more white and khaki? On my feet for travelling are my 14-year-old Timberland boat shoes. Then in go black and olive Toms (I trash 4 pairs of olive Toms a second) and my leopard print Havaianas – I just love them. And now I have a dilemma because my latest shoe indulgence is a pair of cropped khaki Hunter boots. How the heck am I going to squeeze these in between the desperately needed headlamps for our chefs to use at our Bush BBQ?


Nicky's safari shoe collection

Ok Nicky, be serious for a minute – what are the five essentials you never leave home without when going on safari?

Serious is hard but I will try. I know all these sound a little poncey so please forgive me. Here goes:

Gotta dash because Chef has just WhatsApp’d me – he urgently needs almond flour. This gluten-free cuisine is testing us to the limits …

Nicky in a hot air balloon in the Maasai Mara

Well that turned out to be a little more interesting than expected. I hope these tips come in useful when planning your next safari.

Note from the Editor: Since I answered these questions for Ali I had my comeuppance whilst engaging in some soft smuggling yesterday. One thing I never travel without is an immaculate pedicure, as you never know when your shoes might have to come off and who might be watching. Anyway we are about to offer manis and pedis to our guests and of the 30 bottles of nail varnish in my suitcase the one that had to smash was pillar box red. Nice …

FILED UNDER: Safari Style

AUTHOR: Alison Mitchell

Ali is a key member of the Angama Mara team. If you ask her what she does she might take a minute to answer but it would probably be something along these lines: ‘on Mondays I market, on Tuesdays I work on the website, on Wednesdays I project manage, on Thursdays I place orders and on Fridays I plan for the safari shop at the lodge’. And on Saturdays and Sundays she writes blog posts.

Wildbud Safaris
December 8, 2020

I totally agree with you, a fresh white T-shirt is a must. It is so versatile. Thanks for the tips. You made preparing for a safari so much easier.

    Kate Fitzgerald Boyd
    December 11, 2020

    You are most welcome – the simpler the clothing the better is our safari moto

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