Whether you’re visiting to see big game on a safari or to explore the culture of Cape Town and Johannesburg, discover what you need to pack for your trip to South Africa.
As a vacation destination, South Africa seems to have it all, from natural beauty to history and culture, not to mention popular attractions like tropical beaches and big game safaris.
In addition to the obvious travel necessities, such as cash, a passport and/or visa, and ATM/credit cards, visitors to South Africa will want to bring along the proper attire, electronic devices and adaptors, and medical essentials. Worried about fitting everything in your bag? Invest in some packing cubes and compression sets to make travel planning and organization a breeze, then use this list to help you get packing.
South Africa is an ideal place to visit during any time of year, but because the country is in the Southern Hemisphere, your seasons will likely be reversed (this applies if you’re traveling there from North America or Europe). Pack your lightweight summer apparel from November through March, when temps typically reach 30-40° C (86-104° F).
Include a few t-shirts, a couple of long sleeve shirts, shorts, cotton pants, and a light jacket in your travel pack. Don’t forget the bathing suit and sunscreen if you plan to spend time at the beach, and bring an umbrella to prepare for frequent rain showers during those months.
Pack warmer clothes in your travel cubes from June through August, when evening temperatures can dip down into the single digits C (around 40° F). And no matter the season, sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes will always come in handy.
If you’re planning to take a safari, you may also want to add a pair of sturdy walking shoes and a hat that fits securely on your head (look for one that offers a tie underneath). Women may want to add a sports bra for added comfort and support during long, bumpy days of driving.
Whether you’re visiting South Africa for the gorgeous natural scenery or to see big game on a wildlife safari, you’ll definitely want a camera to capture those memories. Don’t forgot to add spare batteries, your chargers and adaptors, and extra memory cards to your packing list. If you have binoculars or a telephoto camera lens, bring them along—you may never find a better opportunity to use them. Place all of your cords, batteries, and chargers inside of an electronics organizer to help keep it organized at all times.
You may want to pack your cell phone and charger, but contact your service provider before your trip to make sure your phone will work locally in South Africa. It may be necessary to “unlock” the phone and purchase an international roaming package.
Planning to take laptops, hair dryers, and other electronic devices? Some hotels may have the standard outlets North Americans are used to, but in most of the country, expect to either purchase or bring an adapter to fit the C, G and M plug types used in South Africa.
The Centers for Disease Control say the relative risk of visitors contracting malaria in South Africa is “low” but still recommends taking precautions to limit mosquito bites. Insect repellent is a must, and the CDC suggests that those who plan to spend a lot of time in nature, such as hikers and wildlife-watchers, may want to contact their doctors for anti-malaria medication prescriptions before entering South Africa. Whenever possible, sleep under the mosquito netting provided by your hotel or your tour company.
South Africa Packing Checklist
Here’s a brief summary of the essentials for any South Africa packing list:
- ID documents (passport, driver’s license, visa)
- Money, credit cards
- Appropriate seasonal clothing and undergarments
- Bathing suit, sunscreen
- Sunglasses, hat
- Basic toiletries
- Cameras, batteries
- Laptop, cell phone, chargers
- Power outlet adapter
- Insect repellent
- Anti-malaria medication, if desired
Have you already traveled to South Africa? Share what else you’d add to this list of basic essentials for a South Africa vacation in the comments below!
National Geographic Guide Series Borderless Convertible Carry-On
Pack-It Original™ Starter Set
National Geographic Guide Series All Purpose Duffel 60L
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