Light aircraft, Namibia | © Dana Allen

Safari Luggage Allowance in Africa

Natural World Safaris

Natural World Safaris

04 Dec 2018

All you need to know about aircraft safari luggage allowance in Africa

Transferring between camps, lodges, airports and airstrips is part and parcel of every African safari. Off-road vehicles are commonly used, driven either by your guide or yourself if you’ve planned a self-drive safari. Houseboats like the Pangolin Voyager Houseboat in Botswana are not unheard of, while walking safaris offer travellers the chance to experience the bush on foot, venturing from one mobile camp location to the next using your own two feet.

Not much needs to be written about these methods of locomotion, but when taking to the air, a safari-goer in Africa must plan accordingly. It is rare for an African itinerary not to include a light aircraft transfer, and the small size of these planes means that your safari weight limit is of critical importance. If you’re planning a trip to Africa, make sure you read through the following information carefully and adhere to the safari luggage restrictions when packing, which will ensure a safe flight for you and your fellow passengers.


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Light aircraft, Tanzania | © Kate Waite

Safari Luggage Restrictions

The first thing to consider is what type of luggage you are going to use. Many types of luggage commonly used on city holidays are not suitable for light aircraft. Soft-sided bags are essential; this means no hard-shell suitcases, and no bags with exterior wheels, pull-out handles or frames. Duffel bags are ideal. Whichever bag you take with you, it must fit within the following size limits:

  • Metric: (W) 25 cm x (H) 30 cm x (L) 61 cm
  • Imperial: (W) 10” x (H) 12” x (L) 24”

Note that although the baggage compartment is 30 cm (12”) high, the doorway to the compartment is only 25 cm (10”) high. If the height of your bag is at the upper limits of what is allowed, don't pack it so tightly that it can't be squashed a bit – otherwise your bag and its contents may be damaged when fitting it into the compartment.

Please note that travellers passing through OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg will be required to comply with the following additional restrictions in order to prevent blockages of the automatic luggage carousels:

  • Only regular-shaped bags will be allowed to be checked in. This means that the bags must have at least one flat surface to be accepted
  • Round or irregular-shaped bags will not be allowed
  • Bags with longs straps will not be allowed
Light aircraft compartment, Tanzania | © Kate Waite

Safari Weight Limit

Once you’ve procured an appropriate bag, the next step is to make sure it fits within one of the following weight limits, depending on where you’re travelling to in Africa:

This limit also includes carry-on luggage, which is limited to a reasonable amount of camera/video equipment. There is no overhead or under-seat storage on the planes, so your carry-on bag will need to sit on your lap. You may bring up to two bags with you (one stowed and one carry-on), but your total luggage weight cannot exceed the weight limit.

Light aircraft, Tanzania | © Kate Waite

Every kilogram counts on these light aircraft flights, which means the delicate issue of passenger weight must also be taken into account. Passengers weighing more than 100 kg (220 lb) may need to purchase an additional seat. If you think you may require an additional seat, please inform us of this when booking your safari. Passenger weights are used to plan the weight distribution and balance of the aircraft, which is why having this information prior to the flight is imperative.

To ensure the safety of all those travelling in the aircraft, all passengers and their luggage will be weighed before boarding. Should a passenger’s weight be greater than what was given at the time of booking, the pilot may have to reduce the passenger’s luggage allowance in order to counterbalance the aircraft. If your weight changes between the time of your booking and your departure, please inform us of this prior to beginning your safari so that we have adequate time to make adjustments if needed.

Extra seats can also be booked for those whose luggage absolutely must exceed the weight limit, e.g. professional photographers with a large amount of equipment. This will allow you to bring up to 70 kg (154 lb) of additional luggage with you. All extra seats must be arranged in advance.

If you have exceeded your luggage and/or passenger weight limit, and the pilot deems this likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft, you will be required to make alternative travel arrangements. Bags can be stored at some airports, but may have to be left behind with staff if this is not possible. Separate road or air charters for transporting luggage can also be arranged, although these will incur considerable additional costs.

Light aircraft, Namibia | © Wilderness Air

Safari luggage allowances may seem pretty strict, but remember that a soft-sided duffel bag will weigh quite a bit less than your standard holiday suitcase. In addition, the dress code in safari camps is casual, and most camps will do your laundry on a daily basis, significantly cutting down on the amount of clothing you will need to bring. (Please note, however, that staff at many camps do not wash underwear for cultural reasons; if this is the case, gentle soap will be provided for doing your own laundry.) Depending on the camp, you may also be supplied with a full selection of toiletries (shampoo, shower gel, etc.) which will give you yet more extra space when packing.

Questions about air transfers?

If you'd like clarification on any of the points raised above, speak to one of our Destination Specialists for more information.

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