How to Pack for your South African Safari
So you’ve booked your South African safari, the trip is drawing closer and closer, and you’re scouring the web to find tips on what to pack. Stop. Stop. Take a deep breath. Relax. We have the ideal packing guideline for you to follow when planning for your South African safari.
Create a packing list
Become a packing ninja by creating a list of all of the things you are thinking of taking, then cut it down by half – limited to only the things you NEED. This will prevent you from over packing (there are usually weight restrictions on small charter aircraft) and forgetting anything you may need.
Downsize cosmetics and toiletries
Downsize your toiletries and beauty products. Decant shampoos, conditioners, and soaps into travel-sized bottles, and pack a small tube of toothpaste and deodorant under 100ml into a small toiletry bag. Remember that you’re on safari so you can leave most of your makeup at home and just bring a foundation, eyeliner, and mascara for evenings out.
The one bag rule
You don’t need your whole wardrobe on safari. Limit the number of clothes so that they fit into one bag – a hand luggage bag would be ideal, so your movements aren’t restricted. Don’t forget to pack in a day bag for when you go on game drives.
Pick items that you can wear in a variety of ways and that go well together. This will expand your choice of outfits. Stick to neutral colours (khaki, brown, green, tan) and light fabrics such as cotton that work well in a hot climate. Minimise your visibility by avoiding bright colours, white, and animal prints; and steer clear of dark colours as these can attract tsetse flies. Ladies, pack a sports bra as game drives can be a little uncomfortable.
- 3 – 5 t-shirts
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 smart outfit
- Sports bra
- 2 long-sleeved shirts (or a cardigan)
- 2 pairs of long pants
- Lightweight rain jacket
- Plenty of underwear and socks
- Tracksuit/yoga pants
- Scarf or shawl – great for chilly evenings and as protection from the sun and mosquitoes.
Bring one pair of good walking shoes and a pair of sandals for back at camp. Whatever shoes you pack, make sure they are functional. If there is one tip we can give you, its suggesting you leave your high heels at home.
There are plenty of travel apps that will inform you of animal sightings in the various game parks (great if you’re doing a self-drive), as well as stargazing or bird watching apps that you can use in your spare time. We recommend: go! Travel South Africa and Africa: Live! Read up more on some great travel apps here and here.
Personal medical kit
Fill a small bag with the essentials, such as headache tablets, painkillers, anti-malaria tablets, vitamins, Imodium, eye drops, topical antibiotic, plasters, bandages, and any other prescription medication you need. Here’s how to avoid getting sick while on holiday.
Camera and binoculars
You will want to take lots of photographs, so pack your camera, video recorder, charger, and plenty of backup memory cards. Don’t forget your binoculars if you have a pair.
Sunblock, hat, and sunglasses
Pick a sunblock with a high sun protection factor (between 30 and 50), a wide-brimmed hat with under-chin ties so it doesn’t blow off, and a good pair of sunglasses. Don’t underestimate the power of the African sun. There is nothing worse than having to suffer through your holiday with bad sunburn.
You will have a bit of leisure time, so pack a good book to read. You can ask at the lodge reception to see if they have any animal and bird guidebooks available if you’d like to do a bit of exploring on your own. They will likely have an assortment of books covering an array of interests.
Don’t leave the house without your passport, visas, booking confirmations, plane tickets, and travel insurance documents. Make sure you carry copies of the above on a flash drive.
Other items you may want to pack include insect repellent, lip balm, torch, a small sewing kit, water bottle, zip lock bags, travel adapters, and healthy snacks (nuts, dried fruit, and cereal bars).
A sense of adventure
You’re going on the holiday of a lifetime! Get excited!
What other tips do you have for packing for a South African safari?
Main image credited to Koffylaagte Game Lodge and Safari Tents (TG)