Your Safari Packing List
You’ve been dreaming about a safari for years, but what should you wear on an African safari?
Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most popular destination for an African safari. Therefore, this packing list is based on the conditions in that location.
Kruger National Park is in Mpumalanga. It is important to understand that the weather in South Africa is different from region to region. Also, there are ideal times to travel to Kruger.
For the best game viewing, book your visit to Kruger National Park during the dry winter season from May to October. This time is considered to be the best for game viewing and walking safaris.
You need to be aware that overpacking on safari is a definite no-no! There are weight and size restrictions. Do not assume that since they allowed your large suitcase onto the international flight, this too will be allowed at the Safari.
If you are traveling with a large suitcase, you may want to store it at the OR Tambo Airport (Johannesburg). They have a luggage-storage depot on the upper level of the underground parkade, near the main elevator/ lift lobby in International Arrivals. They are open 24/7 and their prices are reasonable. Also, keep in mind – these are not lockers. Rather, it’s a room where they store everyone’s luggage. The storage facility at OR Tambo airport is relatively safe but be sure to securely lock your suitcase. Otherwise, you are making yourself a target for theft.
There are no hard and fast rules. What should you wear on an African Safari is entirely up to you but there are some guidelines. You can choose to follow them, or you can choose to ignore them.
Many first-timers stick out because they are dressed like a safari cliché. Don’t let this be you. Instead, choose your clothes carefully.
Keep in mind that the temperatures in Mpumalanga vary greatly. It can be very cold in the morning on a game drive, then pleasant around midday. The secret to dressing in these conditions is to have several layers that you can take off or add as needed.
Clothes to Choose:
- Light fabrics, preferably cotton;
- Comfortable clothes.
- Neutral, earthy tones like greys, browns, beige, etc.
Clothes You Should Not Choose:
- Any brightly colored clothes;
- White clothes – it will make you highly visible to animals and it shows dirt very quickly;
- Red colored clothes – this color attracts animals.
- Blue and black – if you are going into an area where there are Tsetse flies, these colors should be avoided.
- T-shirts or tank tops (in neutral, earth-toned colors)
- Long-sleeved cotton shirts and trousers (For night + they are effective in keeping mosquitoes and other insects from biting.)
- Underwear (sports bras got women—the drives are bumpy) and socks
- Lightweight, waterproof jacket
- Good, worn-in walking shoes (boots/ sneakers/ trainers are fine. For walking Safari’s, you may want to go with hiking boots.)
- Sandals /flip flops (for walking around the camp or pool)
- Warm hat (for the night and early mornings)
- Gloves (for the night and early mornings)
- Evening wear (if you are staying in a private lodge. However, dinner is mostly informal).
- Good quality sunglasses
- Wide brimmed hat for sun protection
- A small rucksack for use on walks and in vehicles
- Small torch or head torch and spare batteries (You may be walking in the dark).
- Binoculars, one pair per person so everyone can see the same things at the same time!
- Travel plug
- Portable charger
- A camera + charger + spare memory cards
- Good sunscreen
- Insect repellent spray
- Hand sanitizer
- Lip balm
- Prescription medicine – you won’t have access to pharmacies.
- Personal toiletries (that are not provided by the lodge.)
- Basic medical kit (pain pills, travel sickness pills, anti-diarrhea pills, bandages/ plasters, antiseptic, rehydration salts, anti-histamine cream etc.)
- Malaria prophylaxis and regular medication (keep this with you in hand luggage in case of delays)
- Travel laundry detergent (camps offer a laundry service but staff will often not wash women’s underwear.)
- Toiletries not provided by the camp (see below.)
- Visa (if required)
- Flight tickets
- Foreign currency
- Yellow fever certificate (if required)
- Travel insurance paperwork
- Marriage certificate (if requested by camps for honeymoon offers)
- Unabridged birth certificate (for under 18’s to Southern Africa)
- Pen for filling out forms
The following list applies to those staying in a lodge.
- Plastic bags – they are banned in most countries
- Shampoo, conditioner and body wash – these are provided by the camps. Bring your own travel sized supplies if you only use a specific brand.
- Towels – provided by camps
- Drones – these are banned in most safari areas
- Hairdryer – if the property’s power can cope, they will be provided
- Excess makeup – you won’t have room for it. Try to keep it minimal with a tinted moisturizer and mascara, for example.
- Mosquito bands and wipes – these are often ineffective. Instead choose a mosquito spray with a healthy amount of DEET.