South Africa has it all, from world-famous game safaris to eclectic cities brimming with culture. Such a vibrant country requires a suitcase jam-packed with items that will set you in good stead from the moment you step off the plane. Lace up those boots and slather on some suncream for our rundown of what to pack for South Africa.

Packing for a safari

Before you South African adventure begins, one question looms large – what do I pack for a safari? We’re here to help unravel the mystery, from essential clothing to lesser-known items that will leave your safari worry-free (other than wondering where those lions are hiding).

  • Warm clothing: two things are certain when it comes to South African safaris – one: mornings in South Africa can be cold, and two: safaris set off early in the morning. Woolly hats, jumpers and fleeces will keep you snug and extra layers are always welcome. Open top 4x4’s offer little warmth in the chilly early hours of the morning, so the more wrapped up you are, the better.
  • ‘Dirty’ and ‘clean’ clothes: game drives, hikes and picnics can get a little mucky in the dusty savannahs, so we recommend having designated clothes to get dirty and an extra clean set for evenings at the camp.
  • Light coloured clothing: don’t make the biggest rookie error in the book when deciding what to pack for South Africa. Bright colours are an absolute no-no. Not only will they scare off the animals, but they’ll also make you stick out like a safari-novice sore-thumb. Brown, khaki and tan are safe neutral options. While camouflage clothing isn’t illegal in South Africa, they’re strictly forbidden in many other African countries, so they’re best to stay away from.
  • Long skirt: if you plan to pack a skirt, make sure it reaches at least to your knees. Anything shorter may not be appropriate if you’re planning to visit local villages.
  • Sturdy walking boots: uneven terrain across the bush and grassland calls for sturdy footwear, and a pair of boots will also protect against bug bites and scratches.
  • Sandals: breathable footwear is perfect for evenings in the camp or during transfers.
  • Travel first aid kit: no matter how many times you’ve worn your boots, blisters always manage to surprise you. Blister plasters, pain killers, bite cream and disinfectant wipes are some handy things to keep close by.
  • Binoculars: an absolute no-brainer for safaris.
  • Camera equipment: if there’s any excuse to bring along a high-quality camera, it’s South Africa. And don’t forget to pack a durable case, chargers and spare batteries.
  • Scarf or bandana: tying one of these onto your backpack will come in more use than you might expect during a safari – great for extra warmth, modesty, or dipping into water to cool yourself down.

General items

While safaris may be centre stage of your holiday, the country has more to offer with its cool cities and tropical beaches. So, here’s a quick rundown of what to pack for South Africa when visiting all corners of the country.

  • Loose t-shirts, shorts and cotton trousers: from November through to March, the temperature usually sits at around 30°C, so lightweight clothing will keep you refreshingly cool.
  • Light jacket: although being mostly nice and toasty, temperatures can dip in the evenings and mornings.
  • Warm layers: if you’re travelling from June through to August, evening temperatures can fall into the single digits. You’ll thank yourself for bringing an extra layer or two.
  • Waterproof coat: November to March is the country’s rainy season, so make sure to find suitcase space for protection against the heavens if you’re travelling between these months.
  • Swimwear and beach towel: for refreshing dips in the ocean or hotel pools.
  • Insulated water bottle: because there’s nothing worse than drinking warm water when it’s 30°C outside.
  • Bug spray with DEET: spending time outdoors means being around mosquitoes, so you’ll want to ward them off however you can.
  • Sun protection: hats, suncream and sunglasses will help to protect you from the strong South African sun.
Contact one of our South Africa specialists