Now that we’ve got your safari planning under control, you may be wondering what kind of bag you should buy…

Just like you, we’ve all had our first safari – or perhaps your first safari was a packing disaster, with a bag that was too heavy, made rummaging amongst your clothes for your binoculars a frustrating lucky-dip – or perhaps you simply didn’t have enough space for those magical mementos you had to leave behind. This is why, when I discovered Madala Bags, I decided to give their Safari Bag a test-run when I went to Botswana and Zimbabwe recently.

Let’s see what the rest of our travel team (we’ve been on more safaris than we can count!) have to say about how this Safari Bag has nailed every one of our criteria for the ultimate adventure bag for Africa!


Ticks all our safari bag boxes!


1. Functionality

When designing for adventure, seamless functionality and ease-of-use is the ultimate priority. The Safari Bag cleverly provides multiple packing options. Aside from the traditional zip right across the top, the side-flap zip allows you a full side-view so you can access everything even more easily. Much like your clothes folded neatly on a shelf, it’s easier to see that exact shirt you’re looking for, instead of having to dig down through layers of clothes from the top.

Easy – every step of the way!

A trip with plenty of flight connections and moving from one lodge to the next leaves no time for fussiness and complicated gimmicks – and the superb user-friendly design leverages logical minimalism to keep everything you need within easy reach: whether you’re on the plane, a transfer vehicle or in your dreamy safari lodge.

The roomy external pocket is a fidget-free solution for storing essential travel items you need to reach in a snap – like your cellphone, passport and favorite travel-musts.

We also loved the canvas storage bag which, aside from storing the Safari Bag (which folds up in 3 easy folds for flat and compact storage), is great for keeping laundry or shoes away from the rest of your luggage.


2. Weight & Size

Whilst an ultra-nostalgic vintage leather bag may seem like a good idea, remember that leather is also heavy – and will be bulkier to store. Opt instead for a lightweight but strong fabric bag so the only weight you’ll be carrying will be what you’ve packed.

Due to airline restrictions on luggage, size really does matter! As seasoned safarians, the Madala Bag designers got the dimensions perfect: roomy enough to pack what you need, but just the right size for those stringent small-plane luggage restrictions which is: L21inch x W14inch x H14 inch.


Small plane, big bag!


3. Material

In addition to how the material of a travel bag contributes to weight and storage size, durability and water-resistance is just as critical. Madala Bags chose robust Ripcoat which can endure the roughest of handling – and is both waterproof and easy to clean.


4. Durability

Strong enough to hold up against regular weekend escapes out of the city and far-flung adventures to the most remote corners of Africa, the Safari Bag is equipped with extra-thick, super-strong big brass hooks and rings to make sure that even the most over-packed Safari Bag will conquer the toughest travel-challenge.


5. Straps

The Safari Bag can be carried by the short straps made of thick, heavy-duty webbing or slung over the shoulder. Superb simplicity!


6. And last, but most certainly not least: Style

Just because a travel bag is uber-functional, doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style! Whilst the classic safari colors of taupe, beige, brown or khaki-green may seem like the most logical, understated choice as they blend into the natural surroundings, some of us travelers love a colorful travel bag that pops out from amongst everyone else’s luggage – and, quite simply, makes our journey even more beautifully our own.


Pick your vibe!


Perhaps even more special than getting to choose my Safari Bag’s lining-fabric is the story stitched into each and every Madala Bag: a story about two African souls: one, a vibrant, visionary artist – and the other, a talented and experienced pattern-maker and expert machinist. With Natalie’s eye for color and styling and John’s expert artisanal production, each bag is unmistakably unique.

The original ‘Madala’ and Natalie. What a team!


The original inspiration for kickstarting this special venture was John himself — aka  ‘Madala’, an affectionately respectful Zulu word for ‘old man’ or ‘old-timer’ and who has worked somewhere place for a long time. You can find their bustling workshop in the heart of Hermanus: whale-watching heaven along the Western Cape coastline of South Africa!

Putting The Safari Bag to the test!

I took my brand new Safari Bag with me on a recent agent trip to check out some of the awesome camps and lodges we send our clients to. I know… tough job – but someone’s gotta do it! I was so excited to take my new bag along. (You can’t take your husband on these agent trips!) I love the fabric I’d personally gotten to choose for the bag’s inner lining — beautifully bold floral-chic! Perfect for me.

My very well-traveled Safari Bag - from top to bottom, and left to right: 1. A warm Wilderness Safaris welcome at Linkwasha in Hwange 2. Mapula Lodge 3. Hyena Pan 4. Sable Alley 5. Okavango Delta 6. Right in front of the tent where Harry and Meghan stayed at Meno A Kwena 7. Me, all packed and ready to say adieu to magical Meno A Kwena
My very well-traveled Safari Bag!

Pictured from top to bottom, and left to right:

  1. A warm welcome at Linkwasha in Hwange National Park
  2. Mapula Lodge
  3. Hyena Pan
  4. Sable Alley
  5. Okavango Delta
  6. In front of the tent where Harry and Meghan stayed at Meno A Kwena.
  7. All packed and ready to say adieu to magical Meno A Kwena until next time!
Vanessa Ratcliffe about to board a small plane from Kariba Airport in Zimbabwe.
Safari Bag stowed away and ready to board! (Kariba Airport, Zimbabwe)

The Safari Bag was a huge hit! It looked good. It packed even better! The other agents loved it too. The flap-down, side-view feature – which means you can use it as a ‘cupboard’ – is such a clever idea. This is ideal for safari where you only really spend an average of two nights at a camp, and then move to the next place. And most importantly, it’s got no hard sides and is therefore compliant with the strict ‘soft-sided bags only’ luggage restrictions on flights in small planes to remote locations in the wildlife regions of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.


This is the bag we’ll take on safari!

We’ve got ten Madala Safari Bags with us in New York ready to be shipped to your front door.

Contact us to grab yours before your next adventure!