How do I handle luggage on a small aircraft charter flight in Africa?

by Sandy Salle on August 31, 2016

I always get the question, ‘How can I possibly pack everything I need for my trip to Africa when there are such tight luggage restrictions?’. Well I’m going to show you how. I recently guided a trip to Tanzania with friends and we had to take light aircraft transfers between all the different safari camps. It is extremely important to note the strict luggage weight restrictions enforced on light aircraft transfers, which can vary between countries. The only reason for this is to make sure that you are safe.

IMG_6121Before I give you advice on how to pack, here’s a picture showing you the luggage that we recommend on a light aircraft charter flight in Africa. This was actually all the luggage that my clients took – there were 14 of us! As you can see, they packed in soft, small, luggage.

Depending on where in Africa you will be traveling to and from, the luggage weight restrictions will vary. However, there are some luggage restrictions that apply to ALL light aircraft transfers in Africa, which include:

  • On ALL light aircrafts, only soft bags will be accepted—no hard suitcases, as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft. Duffel bags without wheels are preferred. This includes camera equipment and hand luggage. There may be a fee per bag.
  • The maximum dimensions of the soft bags are as follows: 25 cm / 9.8 inches wide x 30 cm / 11.8 inches high and 62 cm long / 24.4 inches long (the size of the door of the 206 pod). Please keep in mind that the baggage compartments on the light aircraft are only 25 cm 9.8 inches high, so the pilots must be able to manipulate the bag into the compartment. Luggage with wheels also adds to your total weight. So the rule of thumb for your luggage is: soft, non-rigid bags with no wheels, following the dimensions above.
  • Passengers weighing 100kg / 220lbs or more must advise us in advance so an extra seat for the additional weight can be tallied into the package cost for safety purposes. Please remember that these restrictions are to ensure the safety of our guests.

These luggage restrictions may sound impossible, but also it’s good to know that:

  • Most safari camps / lodges and hotels provide basic toilet amenities, like shampoo, conditioner, bug spray and sometimes suntan lotion
  • Laundry can be done on a daily basis (and many camps provide this service free of charge but hotels do charge a nominal fee)
  • Mainly casual clothing is required

airplaneIn addition to the restrictions above, there are also SPECIFIC luggage WEIGHT restrictions that apply in each country and region of Africa. All of these regulations are strictly enforced. See below for each country’s guidelines and restrictions:

Zimbabwe: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg / 44 lbs per person.

Malawi: Luggage, including camera equipment and hang luggage, is restricted to 15 kg / 33 lbs per person.

Zambia: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg / 44 lbs per person.

Botswana: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg / 44 lbs per person.

South Africa: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg / 44 lbs per person.

Namibia: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg / 44 lbs per person.

Kenya: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted on Regional Air Services charter flights to 15 kg / 33 lbs per person.

Tanzania: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted on Regional Air Services charter flights to 15 kg / 33 lbs per person.

Mozambique: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg / 44 lbs per person.

Uganda and Rwanda: Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted on Regional Air Services charter flights to 15 kg / 33 lbs per person.

Do you think you’ll need more than this amount of luggage:

If you think you’re going to need to bring additional luggage with you that exceeds the allotted weight restrictions for one person, you may choose to purchase another seat.

Expert advice from Sandy:

I did say I’d give you some tips on packing for your African Safari Vacation!
As no formal clothes are needed throughout most of Africa, we recommend that you limit your luggage to the basics. More formal attire is usually required only when staying in the more prestigious city hotel establishments or on any of the luxury trains. On a game safari, casual clothing is the order of the day.

Back to my tips:

  1. Pack light – put your clothes you think you’re going to need on your bed, and then half it (yes I said it half the amount – I promise you, I still half my clothes and come back home with clothes I haven’t worn)
  2. Plan on packing 4 outfits for 10 days, as you can get your laundry done at most properties for free, or pay a nominal amount
  3. Mix and match your clothes, so that you don’t get bored!!
  4. Pack a pashmina, for ladies, you can use as a hat, scarf and sun protector too
  5. Pack a hat for the sun
  6. Take two pairs of shoes – one that you can walk long distances in, and a pair of flip flops for hanging out in
  7. Wear your heavy clothes on the airplane to Africa – your walking shoes, jacket.

Download our suggested packing list here
packingimage

**NOTE:Always check with a Hills of Africa representative prior to departing for your trip to make certain that you have packed within weight restrictions for your booked flights.

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