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How to pack for an African Safari

So your trip to South Africa is booked with an itinerary full of exciting destinations and experiences, but if game driving is on that itinerary, then you need to be prepared.  

Once you are out bush, it is not like you can pop down to the local shop to stock up on supplies. So unless you are a closet Bear Grylls that can find what you need in any situation, I suggest you consider a bit of prior preparation.

What time of the year are you going? Don’t be deceived by the idea that South Africa is a hot country. While it can be in summer, winter gets very cold with even snows in some parts. Your game drives usually occur in the early morning and then again in the late afternoon into evening so temperatures can vary and your experience can be dampened if you don’t pack right.

In the bag

Warm clothes are needed in winter as it can be quite chilly, so much so that some game drivers will supply a blanket and hot water bottle. Summer does get quite hot, so light cotton clothes are ideal. Whatever season however, ensure your clothes are neutral colours, no bright colours or white if you can avoid it. I recommend you pop these in your case:  

  1. A beanie will have a double function, keeping your head warm and for those with long hair it will keep it out of your face when driving in an open air vehicle (Winter)
  2. A scarf won’t go astray and can double up as a wipe for your camera lens (Winter)
  3. Gloves may seem over the top but will help to keep those fingers warm while you’re snapping away with your camera (Winter)
  4. Warm clothes including a windbreaker jacket as the open air vehicles can pick up pace and that wind can be chilly (Winter and Summer night drives)
  5. Light clothes that do cover your arms to avoid getting sunburnt (Summer)
  6. Comfortable shoes that are enclosed. There may be times you get out of the game driving vehicle, and well heels just have no place in the bush
  7. Camera equipment including spare batteries, charger and memory cards – after all you want to capture those magical moments and the amazing wildlife and scenery without going flat
  8. Plastic bags or waterproof bag if you are doing a canoe safari to keep your belongings dry
  9. Face wipes or just simple baby wipes. Driving through the bush can stir up a lot of dust and dirt and in summer a refreshing wipe of the face and hands works wonders
  10. Sunscreen to protect against the summer sun and ensure you don’t end up looking like a beetroot because most vehicles do not have a roof
  11. Insect repellent because no matter how hard you try to hide from them, those mozzies will find you
  12. Lip balm just because your lips will love you for it
  13. Medical pack with the necessary first aid kit inclusions just in case, however your game driver/lodge or tour operator will have the needed equipment for anything more serious
  14. Notebook or diary to record your day events
  15. Lastly, don’t forget your ‘eye spy’ eyes because it’s just as much your job to keep a look out to spot wildlife as it is for the driver

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