I have gotten so many questions about our safari honeymoon through South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya and I am finally sharing our full itinerary and all our photos on the blog this week! I will do my best to answer all your questions in five posts (Cape Town, Londolozi, Serengeti, Solio Lodge, and Giraffe Manor) this week, but I wanted to start today by sharing the outline of our itinerary as well as a very comprehensive packing list. Again you’ll see our trip covered in greater detail this week, but I thought it would be helpful to provide a framework for those of you who are planning similar trips (and there are a lot of you!).

design darling african honeymoon itinerary

DAYS 1-2: Flight from New York to Cape Town with a layover in Paris

DAYS 2-5: Stay at Ellerman House in Cape Town, South Africa (four nights)

DAYS 6-7: Stay at Londolozi outside Kruger National Park, South Africa (two nights)

DAY 8: Stay in Arusha, Tanzania (one night)

DAYS 9-12: Stay at Four Seasons Serengeti in Tanzania (four nights)

DAYS 13-14: Stay at Solio Lodge in Kenya (two nights)

DAYS 15-16: Stay at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya (two nights)

DAY 17: Flight from Nairobi to New York with a layover in Amsterdam

We packed for our two-week trip in carry-on luggage. With the obvious exceptions of electronics, toiletries, and underwear, here is everything I packed as well as my (lengthy) notes on what I would do differently next time. (I’ll add some spark notes at the end for those who don’t care to read every little detail!)

design darling african honeymoon packing list

one  //  two  //  three  //  four  //  five  //  six  //  seven  //  eight  //  nine  //  ten

eleven  //  twelve  //  thirteen  //  fourteen  //  fifteen  //  sixteen  //  seventeen  //  eighteen

nineteen  //  twenty  //  twenty-one  //  twenty-two  //  twenty-three

The hardest part of packing for a safari honeymoon is not just having to squeeze everything into less than 33 pounds total luggage, but having to pack for a climate that’s cold in the mornings and at night but quite warm in the afternoon. I asked several friends who had been to Africa for their packing tips and the answer was unanimous: plan for lots of layers. The end of September when we traveled marks the end of winter / very start of spring in South Africa, so it was chilly both in Cape Town and on morning and evening game drives at Londolozi, the Serengeti, and Solio Lodge. Only at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi was it finally warm enough to wear the only dress I’d packed!


Our schedule on each safari tended to be early morning game drives starting at 5:00 a.m., mid-day nap indoors, and evening game drives starting at 4:00 p.m., so most of the time we spent outside required lots of layers. These sweaters and these button-downs were the MVPs of the trip for me as they could each be worn on their own or layered with one another or a Barbour jacket. Also every place we stayed offered same-day or next-day laundry, which we took advantage of at almost every stop.


For game drives, people had warned us not to wear navy or black, though we ultimately had no run-ins with the tse tse flies everyone had cautioned us about. I wore these leather pants more often than not and consider them the ultimate souvenir from our trip, even if I purchased them in the city before we left! They are just so chic, insanely flattering, and easy to wear in my real life post-honeymoon (I was so not about to purchase a bunch of outdoor zip-off gear for a two-week trip!).

While we didn’t get out of the trucks during our game drives, I will say that the one time I wore white jeans they were covered in dust and had to be laundered immediately, so it’s worth considering neutral colors that won’t show every speck of dirt, whether it’s leather pants or a pair of army green skinny jeans (which I ordered but didn’t arrive in time for our trip, grrr!). Once we’d gone out on several game drives and seen other guests wearing navy and black, I knew I was probably safe to wear regular jeans and these navy jodhpurs.

I wound up only wearing the shorts to throw on over my swimsuit in the Serengeti (the one place it was warm enough to get in the pool in the afternoon) so next time I’d only pack one pair instead of two.


You definitely need a pair of sunglasses (these are my everyday pair) and I highly recommend a straw hat or at least a baseball cap. Someone asked me if I felt I should have gotten a hat that ties around the neck, but honestly as long as it’s tight around your head and isn’t going to fly off the second the trucks starts, it’s probably not something you need to spend money on (especially if you know you’ll never wear it again). I also wore or carried this cashmere wrap every day of the trip as it was easy to throw on over a sweater in the morning and then toss in my bag when it warmed up closer to noon. Lastly, Will and I both get pretty bored sitting around a pool all day, so we each only packed one swimsuit and only lounged by the pool for a couple afternoons in the Serengeti. So if you’re going at a different time of year or enjoy pool time more than we do, tossing in an extra bikini would obviously take up very little space!


Footwear is easily the category I’ve gotten the most questions about, and again I am not the type to order a pair of hiking boots I know I’ll never wear again. Because we were sitting in a truck for most of the day, I was completely comfortable in this pair of suede booties and then this pair of loafers that I wore mostly on our travel days for running through airports, slipping on and off at security, etc. If you’re not as comfortable wearing a 3″ heel all day, a pair of desert boots or riding boots would totally suffice for the type of trip we were on (obviously if you’re setting out to hike Kilimanjaro, that’s a different story… and you should probably be reading a different blog 😂). I did bring a pair of Jack Rogers to wear to the pool, but I foolishly brought a pair of tan suede over-the-knee boots and excluded them from the packing list above because I wore them precisely zero times and they took up way too much precious space in my suitcase.


Layers are key. Bring a jacket, a couple sweaters, a couple button-downs, and a couple t-shirts and plan to have the latter two laundered along the way. This cashmere wrap is a dream for both plane rides and game drives. Consider leather pants or army green jeans as an alternative to blue or white denim if you think you’ll wear them again after your trip. Only pack a dress if you want to be cute for dinner in Cape Town or to hang with the giraffes in Nairobi. Bring a swimsuit and a pair of shorts if you want to squeeze in a little pool time, and don’t forget a straw hat and sunnies that you’ll wear both by the pool and on game drives. Pack one pair of boots you’re comfortable wearing every day (bonus points if they’re comfy enough to travel in) and a pair of sandals if you want something different to wear when it warms up in the afternoon.

Et voilà! I can’t wait to share all the photos from our trip with you this week. Stay tuned! 🙂

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  1. Hi Mackenzie, I love your blog and am referencing back to your post as I think about planning a trip to Africa. When was your trip to Africa? That will put all of your wonderful recommendations and resources into context for me. Thank you and keep up the great work =)

  2. Your post inspired me to plan a safari trip! If you had to decide between Kenya and Tanzania which would you choose? I’m thinking we should probably stick with 1 country since we won’t have as long as you did. Thanks!

  3. Hi Mackenzie, I know this post was quite a while ago now but what about jewellery? We’re doing our honeymoon in Tanzania this summer and I don’t want to bring a lot of jewellery (as I’ve heard tales of things going missing from people’s luggage whilst travelling between places), so I’d love some advice please? Did you wear you’re engagement ring/wedding ring or leave it at home? Thanks so much!

  4. Your photos are fabulous! What kind of camera did you take with you? (I assume you’d also have to travel light in that respect)

  5. Thank you for this detailed list! Can you also share what your husband wore? We are going on a similar trip & I’m unsure about what he should bring!

    1. You’ll be able to see lots of his outfits in the five posts this week! But truthfully they’re just men’s equivalents of everything on this list: a baseball cap, sunglasses, leather boots, a Barbour jacket, a couple half-zip sweaters, several button-downs, a couple t-shirts, lots of khaki pants, and a swimsuit!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m dying to go to Africa and can’t wait for more posts about your honeymoon. My biggest hesitation with packing for big trips with a carry-on is always the toiletries. Can you share a little about how you deal with the quart-sized bag of 3-ounce bottles and what you cut from your routine while traveling?

    1. Yes, absolutely! I almost exclusively travel with this cosmetic case set and force myself to reduce until everything fits inside one of the two cases. I put my shampoo and conditioner into two of these containers and brought only what I consider my desert island essentials: tinted moisturizer, concealer, mascara (though I wish I’d refilled my eyelash extensions from our wedding before the trip), sunscreen, makeup remover wipes, and Vintner’s Daughter serum for moisture/acne prevention. If I have extra space, I’ll add toner and a moisturizer to layer on top of the serum. Honestly I was pretty lazy about skincare on our honeymoon as we were waking up so early for game drives and collapsing into bed exhausted at night… but that’s how I squeezed everything into two bags!

  7. Love this! My honeymoon in June is a bit of a different vibe (10 nights in Hawaii) but would LOVE to see something similar for that trip……you should do a series of packing lists for all different kinds of honeymoons!!!