Going on safari is easily one of the most exciting travel adventures anyone can have. The sheer access to practically untouched and unadulterated nature is nothing short of breathtaking and is pretty much guaranteed to be one holiday you’ll be talking about for quite a while!
This all sounds great of course (and truth is, it’s even better in person) but then, there’s the question of what to pack. This isn’t your average city break after all and you trusted reliable holiday packing list might leave you lacking a few essentials when you arrive in sunny South Africa.
To that end, we’ve got 11 essential items you need to have on your trip to South Africa.
1.) Jurni hand luggage
We wouldn’t be Hand Luggage Only without hand luggage now would we? 😉 This Jurni suitcase is easily one of the most exciting pieces we’ve come across (we got asked about it so much on our trip)! It comes with multiple compartments (save rummaging around for little bits and pieces that always manage to get lost in our suitcases) but that’s not the best part – the best part is that you can use it to sit and glide wherever you are on it. With a long haul trip like the one we did to South Africa (and for shorter haul budget airlines, come to think of it), the ability to do this is just amazing – no more walking around the airport to look for seats.
You can literally glide your way over to security and through customs! (Brits can probably appreciate this a lot more but just think of what it would be like to have this if you board an over-crowed train? Uh-mazing!)
Even better still, they’ve got a competition going on right now to get you one of these suitcases fully loaded with holiday essentials including an iPad mini, Beats headphones, GoPro Camera, Fujifilm instax mini and £500 Urban Outfitters voucher. Talk about a brilliant bumper way to get your summer holidays started! All you’ve gotta do is head over here to enter – www.myjurni.co.uk/competition
2.) Insect repellent with DEET
Granted South Africa doesn’t really have a malaria or mosquito problem like the rest of Africa but this insect repellent is for more than just mosquitos. They are so many other fly (some of which can sting you) that the insect repellent comes in handy when you’re out and about on safari. Remember to check if it has DEET in it when you buy it. (There are a few great options – UK here || US here)
3.) Zoom lens
Seriously, iPhones just won’t cut it here. You’ll need some serious zoom on your camera as although you can get very close to most of the animals (especially if you stay at a private game reserve as they can go off-road), you’ll sometimes find that there will be animal sightings where normal lens just won’t work. Zoom lens up to 300mm should work perfectly fine but if you find any that zoom in further within your price range, I’d say go for that instead.
4.) The right clothes
You would think being South Africa and with it most likely being sunny when you plan to visit, all you’d need are warm clothes (wouldn’t blame you if you did too. I did before we visited). Well, as it turns out, the mornings are fairly chilly. Especially when you’re driving around in an open top car before the sun comes out. When it comes to safari clothes, you need to becomes a layering maestro. Dress for the cold in the mornings but delayer as the sun rises. Similarly in the evenings, dress for the hot sunny afternoons and subsequently layer up as you go along. To be fair, you’ll probably have blankets anyway on safari but just in case, pack in a nice wooly jumper with your swimming shorts/bikini.
5.) Water proof bag
Technically, the only water you should be jumping into here is the pool at your resort in which case, anything that needs to be bagged can be left in your room. The waterproof bag here is not for water – it’s for the dust. You’ll pick up a considerable amount of this on your drive and you’ll find that your things will be covered in a dusty layer if you don’t store them away in a waterproof bag until you need it again.
This is the most obvious one on this list. Honestly, it should be a traveller staple regardless of wherever you go. Even if you go skiing in the middle of winter you’d still need sunscreen as you could still get burnt from the sun reflecting on the snow. Long story short – always have sunscreen!
7.) A hat
This goes two ways really. A hat is perfect for sunny days, especially is you’re pale-skinned however, when you’re out and about on safari and people next to you want to take photos, you might find the hat something of a nuisance as it’ll end up obstructing quite a few people’s photos. Make a judgment call with this one.
You just never know what you might be allergic to. I tend to get really bad hayfever during summertime in Europe so I always travel with antihistamines but surprisingly, in hotter countries (e.g. Singapore, Thailand or South Africa) I’m usually fine. Hayfever is a personal thing so just spare yourself the agony of a blocked nose and take some antihistamines with you when you go. Also, take some fast-acting decongestants just in case.
9.) Anti-malaria medicine
The only part of South Africa where you can technically catch malaria is in Kruger National Park and even at that, it’s only a small part of the park and the risk is very low. I wasn’t bitten by a single mosquito when I was there (that could be the DEET) but just to avoid getting ill on holiday, make sure you get your malaria medication before you leave home.
South African adapters are very different from regular ones. I even have one of those global ‘all-in-one’ adapters and even those don’t cater to the South African plugs. The South African ones are fairly easy to buy though (they’re 3 round pins) so try to do this in advance instead of panicking when arrive into your hotel room. (Get it for UK here || US here)
Like I mentioned before, in a private game reserve, you can go off road so the chances of needing binoculars are a lot more reduced. This being said, you can’t always get up close to all the animals you spot so having a pair of binoculars should stand you in good stead! Here are some good (and cheap) ones I found here ( UK ones || US ones).