From clothing to the photography kit: here you will find tips and advice on what to pack for a safari trip in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. We just came back from a 15-day trip to South Africa and we still have clear in mind the difficulty in packing the perfect bag for this adventure. That’s why we decided to write this post, which I’m sure will make your organization much easier.
The biggest dilemma: what should I put in the luggage? In South Africa the seasons are opposite to ours. We have travelled between December and January, which is summer – meaning wet season – in the Kruger National Park.
Let’s start from the suitcase, forget big and rigid suitcases! We chose a medium size soft bag made in washable material: light, easy to carry, adaptable and water resistant.
Let’s talk about clothing. The golden rule is to dress in layers and choosing practical clothes made with natural fabrics, such as linen and cotton. Don’t bring extras, a few changes will do (many lodges offer laundry service). The climate in the savannah is characterized by a strong temperature range between day and night and even during the day temperatures can change a lot due to sudden rains. Pack t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, shorts and convertible hiking pants for the day and a jumper, waterproof windbreaker and long trousers for the evening. Wear neutral colors – brown, khaki, beige, dark green. They will reflect the sun, blend properly with the surrounding nature and won’t attract insects.
In the evening choose bright colors, possibly white, as they repel mosquitoes that can have malaria and other diseases. A good repellent spray is essential (spray it on clothes as well)! Buy one on arrival – South African brands are much more efficient than the sprays on sale on the European market. If you are traveling during the African winter, it is better to pack gloves, a scarf, a hat and a windproof jacket with light padding too.
As for shoes, always wear rubber slippers for the showers and the long hours in the car and sneakers or, even better, trekking shoes, for the daily trips with the rangers.
What to pack for a Safari in South Africa: 10 Things You Absolutely Need
But, clothes aside, what do you put in the perfect suitcase for a safari in South Africa, avoiding unnecessary things and not forgetting the important ones?
1) Camera. Don’t underestimate the need of a good set of lenses to take memorable shots of your safari adventure. Our kit included two cameras both with 50 mm and a 55-210mm lenses. Although I am very satisfied with the result, I would have loved a 300 or 400mm lens at my fingertips!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR >>
2) Binoculars. Essential. It will show you things that even the camera can’t see.
OUR BINOCULARS: STEINER NAVIGATOR >>
3) Hat/Sunglass. In the bush, it is very important to protect yourself from the sun, wind and dust. If you’re not a hat kind of person, you can wrap a nice African-style scarf around your head!
CHECK OUT SOME SAFARI HATS >>
4) Swimwear. Many lodges, including SanPark’s main camps, offer a swimming pool to cool down during the hottest hours, when the animals hide in the shade and the sightings are less frequent. Might as well take advance and go for a swim!
5) Sun cream. Don’t underestimate the strong African sun! You can get sunburned even on a cloudy day. Always carry a 30-50SPF sun cream with you.
6) Head-torch. To move around campsites and lodges at night. In Africa the night is a real night and a handy flashlight – to be held on the forehead – leaves your hands free, turning useful in many situations. Left it at home? No panic, you can buy one in the stores inside the park.
CHECK OUT ALL THE HEAD TORCHES >>
7) Medical Kit. In the bush it is always good to have a small supply of medicines with you. The essentials: antimalarial, broad spectrum antibiotic, antihistamine, soothing creams for sunburn and mosquito bites, cortisones, medicines for stomach pain, generic painkillers, plasters, vitamins and bacterial flora. Don’t forget the wipes! Water is not always available, better bring with you every sort of wipes: refreshing, disinfectant and intimate. They will also turn useful during the long flight.
8) Water bottle. Africa suffers from serious waste and environmental problems. Cities like Cape Town are fighting the use of plastic by selling glass straws and glass water bottles. Using a thermal bottle you won’t carry waste in remote areas of the earth and you will always have fresh water available!
CHOOSE YOUR WATER BOTTLE >>
9) Backpack. Choose a durable dark backpack, to avoid dust stains from day one. Choose a backpack which has many pockets to organize your goods in a practical way. Lenses, sunglasses, GoPro, binoculars and sun cream will always be in the right place.
CHECK OUT ALL THE BACKPACKS >>
10) Diary / notebook. To take note of the close encounters and the most special moments of the trip. Trust me, you will need it!
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