South African Safari Packing List

A Guide to help you pack the best items on your Safari to South Africa

With over 10 million foreign visitors a year, South Africa has a big appeal to tourists and with the famous Kruger National Park, Safaris play a large part of that tourism. The country has many Safari parks, which together attract millions of visitors every year, with the Kruger National park being the biggest Safari attraction in South Africa.

We’ve worked with safari companies such as Africa Star Tours and Volcano Safaris, and in doing so have gathered some great feedback about what the best items are to bring on your South African Safari trip.

We’ve also partnered with African Wildlife Foundation to help protect Africa’s incredible wildlife and wildlands that you will be experiencing on your Safari. To find out more about our partnership click here.

South Africa’s Kruger National Park

As probably the most popular South African Safari, we’ve provided a few facts about the Kruger National park before you go. With over 1,6 million visitors a year, the Kruger National Park is South Africa’s biggest safari location, having welcomed its first tourists in 1927. The park spans 19,485 km² and is host to a wide range of wildlife including Lions, Leopards, Elephants, buffalo, hippos as well as over 500 species of bird. The Reserve itself has 21 Rest Camps, 2 Private Lodge Concessions And 15 Private Safari Lodges for you to stay at.

A Camera to Capture your Journey

Having some form of camera will be a fantastic item so that you can capture some of the rarest animals on our planet. Using just your phone camera may be fine for some pictures however, it may not be the best option for capturing animals you’re not able to get up close with.

Therefore, getting yourself a good quality camera can help you capture some of the best photos during your Safari. It will help you get some great pictures of both the wildlife and the landscape along your way and is a great way to capture your memories of the trip.

The Best Camera for a Safari

There is a range of high-quality cameras available from brands like Sony, Panasonic and Fuji. Make sure to have a look around and find the best camera for your needs.

One great camera for a Safari is the Canon 80D. Firstly it’s a durable and weatherproof, meaning it will be able to deal with dusty South African Safari conditions. Additionally, it takes an excellent quality of photo so you’ll be able to capture the sights your trip in fantastic detail. However, whilst this camera is excellent for a safari it does come at a significant cost, so if you are looking for a cheaper option this may not be the best camera for you.

 

Binoculars

For similar reasons to a camera, bringing binoculars will enhance your experience during your Safari as well. You’ll want to make the most of your time out in the wild and that partially means getting the best view of as many animals as you can. Unfortunately binoculars cant change how many animals you see, but if there are animals a long way in the distance the binoculars will help you get the best look you can.

What to consider when buying Safari Binoculars

When choosing your binoculars you’ll want to consider a few different factors before your purchase:

  • Magnification: Make sure to get binoculars that are able to see a fairly long distance away, otherwise they won’t be much use! You can also get binoculars that have variable zoom which may be a useful feature.
  • Convenience: Travelling around all day means you won’t want to be carrying any unnecessary weight, so finding yourself a lighter and smaller pair of binoculars can be very beneficial.
  • Durability: As you’ll be out in the wild all day a pair of binoculars that can cope with the terrain is essential. Make sure to look for binoculars that will be able to withstand dusty South African conditions especially.
  • Quality of Image: You’ll want binoculars that are able to clearly see a fair amount of detail through the lens. The last thing you want is to be looking at a blurry spot instead of an elephant!
  • Cost: Whilst all these factors are important you’ll need to balance these against cost. If you’re looking at a lower price range you may have to compromise on some of these features, however you should still be able to find good quality binoculars at a reasonable price.

Sun Cream and a Sun Hat

With South African temperatures regularly hitting over 25ºC, sun cream and a hat will be essential for your Safari. These would be useful items if you were just on holiday but as you will be out in the sun all day on safari they become essential items for you. It’s also important to make sure you bring sun cream with you during the day so you can top up regularly.

As well as using sun cream regularly, a great item to prevent sunburn is a sun hat. This will not only help prevent sunburn on your neck and face but also keep your body temperature cooler throughout the day, reducing the risk of sunstroke.

The benefits of Suncream

There are numerous health benefits towards using sunscreen with the most obvious being you won’t be having to endure the pain of sunburn during your holiday. However, there are also long-term benefits such as reducing the chances of skin cancer, reducing premature skin ageing and preventing blotchy skin.

Safari Specific Clothing

Having already discussed a sun hat, you’ll also want to think about the clothing that you’ll be wearing out in the sun. Out in the heat all day you’ll want to make sure you’re feeling comfortable and not too hot in your clothing.

When thinking about your attire, comfort and ease are two factors that should be essential. In scorching South African heat, having restricting clothing that may even be hard to move in will almost certainly have a negative impact on your safari experience. Another factor that could be considered is bug bites. Companies such as Rohan make insect repellent clothing which can be very useful in any country where you will face the threat of bitey insects.

Also think about Safari Appropriate Footwear

As well as your clothing, you’ll want to think about what sort of footwear you’ll need for your safari. This may depend on how much walking you’ll be doing, however, it’s probably best to look for some specific walking boots so that you won’t be doing any damage to your feet after a long day of walking. After all, you won’t want to be going into day 2 with blisters on your feet.

Reusable Water Filter Bottle

Being outside in the heat all day means you’ll need to find an effective way to stay hydrated throughout the day. The issue of hydration during the day is often solved through single-use plastic bottled water, which of course is very damaging for the environment. However in some places, tap water may not be a safe option and there won’t be many water sources out on your Safari. So what other options do you have?

The most effective way to keep you hydrated throughout the day, without having to contribute to the world’s plastic pollution problem, is through a filter water bottle. The Water-to-Go bottle can filter dirty unsafe water as you drink. This means that you can fill up from any fresh water source with confidence you won’t suffer any illness. You can therefore, fill up from any tap water or even a river or lake during your Safari.

A good tip for your safari may be to take a large over 2-litre bottle of unfiltered water and decant this into your filter bottle. This is because there is a strong chance your filter bottle won’t hold enough for a full day out in the sun. So unless you know you’ll be stopping regularly for water, make sure to carry more than enough for a full day’s safari with you.

Consider your Medication and the Threat of Malaria

As one of the most deadly diseases in human history, Malaria remains a genuine threat to anyone travelling to the African continent. Malaria medication is available in the UK and is likely to be essential for your Safari. Before going on your safari make sure to consult with your GP to ask about any vaccines or medication you may need before travelling.

Insect Repellent to prevent Bug Bites

Travelling anywhere in Africa, bringing insect and specifically mosquito repellent is an important item. The last thing you want during your Safari days is to be constantly itching because of insect bites. The spray will also help you avoid mosquitos and the dangerous diseases they carry.

As previously mentioned, you can also get yourself insect repellent clothing which will be able which is another great way to keep yourself protected. Both methods should work effectively, however to be safe it may be best to still use repellent spray even if you’ve got the clothing as well.

Essential Items for Travel

Slightly less specific for your safari, but make sure to double check you have your usual travel essentials. Make sure to check what you need for your specific journey, but some things these should include are:

  • Passport
  • Travel Insurance
  • Flight Tickets
  • First Aid kit
  • Personal Medication
  • Local Currency (the Rand for South Africa)

Gap Year Travel Packing List

What to take when Travelling on your Gap Year

Are you planning on travelling during your gap year? As with any travel experience, it’s important to be well prepared and make sure you have all the necessary gear to make to most of your experience. For this reason, we have created a packing list made from the best pieces of travel kit to help you make the most of your gap year travels.

At Water-to-Go we have provided bottles to many gap year travellers over the years to keep them safe and hydrated wherever their journey takes them. We are also working with travel stores specialising in gap year travel such as the Gap Year Travel Store. We’ve used this experience and created a list of the best items for you to take whilst travelling on your gap year.

Travel Backpack

Having a durable and convenient backpack is something that will make your journey much easier and more comfortable. It’s important to make sure you get a backpack that suits your plans and is sufficient for what you need to carry, where you need to carry it and how long you’ll be carrying it for.

Osprey is a company that specialises in making innovative and high-quality backpacks. Their backpacks come in a range of sizes and are extremely durable. This means they should be able to last you whether your journey is 2 weeks or a year-long journey.

Wash Bag

Having a separate bag for your toiletries is something that will be extremely useful, especially for those going on adventurous travel experiences. A separate wash bag means you won’t be rummaging around in other bags, compartments, etc. when all you need to do is brush your teeth or wash your hands and face. It’s therefore not exactly an ‘essential’ item for your travels but it will make your travels much more convenient, especially if you’ve just come off a long day of hiking or travelling.

Osprey again makes a padded high-quality wash bag however, if you need something lighter or slightly cheaper you can easily get your hands on indivdual netted wash bags as well.

Filter Water Bottle

The last thing you want on your travels is to drink from a questionable water source and catch some form of illness, potentially ruining your experience. The Water-to-Go filter bottle will filter out well over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, chemicals and pesticides from any non-salt water source. This means it can provide safe, clean drinking water from any river, lake, mountain stream or even bad tap water.

The bottle is also a great way to reduce your plastic footprint. Instead of buying lots of single-use plastic water bottles, the reusable Water-to-Go bottle can be used to replace them. In fact, one 200L filter can replace up to 400 single-use plastic water bottles.

Additionally, with each filter being able to process 130 or 200 litres of water (dependent on filter size) the bottle will only cost you around 5p per litre. So you can also save yourself some extra money to spend on your travels.

Medication for your Destination

It’s important to be prepared medically for whichever country you are visiting, especially if you are travelling to countries like Africa where there is the risk of diseases such as Malaria.

The medication you’ll need will vary depending on the country you’re travelling to. Make sure to consult your GP or visit a travel clinic to recommend the medicines/ vaccinations you will need for your travels. Their’s nothing worse than your experience being ruined because of an illness.

Insect Repellent Spray

On a similar topic to medication, making sure you protect yourself from insect bits will be very important in certain countries. In hotter countries, especially African countries, where insects tend to get a bit bitey making sure you fend them off will make your trip much more enjoyable.

We also briefly talk about insect repellent clothing later in this blog, which is just another way you can protect yourself against bites.

Essential Items for Travel

Make sure you double and triple check the essential items that you will need for your travels. Some essential items you will likely need are:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Money in the correct currency (make sure to check first)
  • Any relevant insurance or other important documents
  • Flight tickets or other tickets you may need
  • Personal medication (i.e. inhaler, epi-pen, etc.)
  • Mobile phone

Be aware your particular journey may require other essential items so it’s important to prepare specifically for your travel needs.

 

Mini Padlock

Security will be vital on your travels, especially when carrying important documents like your passport, wallet, visas, etc.

Make sure to get yourself at least one mini-padlock for each bag you’re carrying with you. The locks are generally at a good price and well worth securing your important documents and expensive items. You can either go for a combination lock or a mini-padlock with a key, but make sure you keep the keys in a safe place on your person. The last thing you want is to be locked out of your own backpack!

You can also get a cable lock which is a fantastic way to keep your luggage safe on public transport. If you’re taking a long train or bus journey a cable lock can be attached to a pole or seat near you, stopping anyone from swiping your bags.

 

Lightweight Sleeping Bag

This will be a great item if you are staying in places that may not offer the best sleeping conditions, particularly if you’re camping or staying in a hostel.

Obviously, a sleeping bag is something that can be a pain to lug around all day, but you can get some great lightweight sleeping bags. This means you won’t be adding any excessive extra weight into your backpack. Some sleeping bags are able to fold up to become no bigger than a football, meaning you can save on space as well.

Appropriate Clothing for your Travels

It will be important to bring appropriate clothes for not just your destination but also the type of travel that you will be embarking on. This will be especially relevant if you are undertaking a more adventurous experience.

Rohan is a clothing company that stock clothes for the traveller and have gear appropriate for a range of different locations. They stock a range of cold weather clothing, from waterproofs to winter trekking gear as well as providing a warm weather range which includes specially designed sun-protective and insect repellent clothes.

Hopefully, this has given you some good ideas about what you need and want to take on your gap year travels. If you’re planning an adventure travel experience click here to see our 10 essential adventure travel items for more useful pieces of kit.