what to pack for south africa

What to Pack for South Africa: A Complete Checklist

Planning a trip to South Africa means being prepared for diverse experiences, from city life in Cape Town to safaris in greater Kruger National Park to relaxing on the beautiful beaches. Here’s your ultimate guide on what to pack for South Africa to make sure you are ready for your vacation. South Africa is an amazing country to visit and I am sharing with you everything I had when I visited on my own.

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A trip to South Africa offers a mix of experiences, from the vibrant city life of Cape Town to the breathtaking vistas along the Garden Route.  As you traverse the Garden Route, be sure to pack comfortable attire for hiking trails, beach outings, and wildlife encounters amidst lush forests and coastal cliffs.

The Greater Kruger National Park is the place to go for a safari that promises amazing encounters with Africa’s magnificent Big Five and a myriad of other wildlife species. Packing essentials ensures you are ready to fully immerse yourself in South Africa’s diverse landscapes and unforgettable wildlife encounters. This was honestly my favorite vacation of my whole life. It’s a hard one to beat!

So let’s dive into the essentials you’ll need with this thorough packing list for South Africa, including a section on a safari.

Essential For Your Trip to South Africa

  • Passport: Valid for at least 6 months past your date of departure
  • Visa: Not required for Canadian or US citizens. Check IVisa if you are traveling from another country
  • Travel Insurance: Travel insurance covering medical emergencies and trip cancellation is a necessity when traveling to South Africa, especially if you are embarking on a safari. SafetyWing is my choice for travel insurance.
  • eSIM for mobile: I highly recommend Airalo as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use so you can stay connected. I had WiFi everywhere including on safari but this is an added level of ensuring you can share those memories easily
  • Vaccinations: Many recommended vaccinations are required, including yellow fever if you are coming from a country with a risk. You can view recommendations for vaccinations at PassportHealth
  • Credit cards and Cash: Widely accepted at major tourist locations. South African Rand is the currency and is recommended to have some on hand for tipping and incidental expenses, especially if you plan to do any local shopping. 
Elephant in Addo Elephant NP

TIP: Take photos of your passport, visa and travel insurance and email to yourself so they can be accessible from any computer, in case this information gets lost or stolen.

What to Pack for South Africa


  • Binoculars for wildlife spotting, especially if you plan on  birdwatching . Suggested specifications are 8×42
  • Camera for wildlife and bird photography
  • Travel adapter –  Plug type D is the plug which has three round pins in a triangular pattern and plug type G is the plug which has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin. Tanzania operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz
  • Chargers for your electronic devices and batteries
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with high SPF
  • Insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Daypack to carry your essentials
  • Flashlight

Medications / Pharmacy

  • Malaria prevention medication is recommended
  • Allergy, Cold/Flu, Pain Relievers
  • Dramamine / Motion sickness tablets
  • Antiseptic cream, bandaids
  • AfterBite
  • First Aid Kit

Personal Hygiene

  • Dental care (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shaving accessories
  • Sanitary requirements
  • Eye wear; Bring a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust while on safari
  • Facial cleaning creams and lotions
  • Tweezers, mini scissors


  • Head covering (baseball cap or wide brimmed hat) 
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing Suit
  • Long-sleeved shirts to protect against the sun and insects
  • Light Jacket with a hood suitable for safaris
  • Fleece jacket or sweater for chilly mornings and evenings
  • Tank tops & T-shirts
  • Dresses or Skirts
  • Raincoat
  • Pants, shorts, capris or leggings that are lightweight and water-resistant
  • Long socks
  • Comfortable, sturdy closed toe shoes or hiking boots for bush walks
  • Sandals (for when not on safari)
  • Comfortable sleepwear that is lightweight and breathable

What To Bring On A Safari in South Africa

Most of the above items are necessities for a safari and most outdoor adventures. A day on a safari includes outdoor adventures, but also times to relax. Here are a few more tips to follow if you need more information on what to pack for South Africa.

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing in neutral colors such as khaki, beige, and olive green. Avoid white and bright colors such as red
  • Prioritize Comfort: Choose clothing made from natural fibers rather than synthetics. Cotton is an excellent choice for its breathability and comfort.
  • Dress in Layers: Garments with zip-off sleeves or legs and ample pockets are convenient. Remember to bring a jacket and scarf for game drives, as temperatures can drop rapidly after sunset.
  • Flashlight is great to have for the late night safari drives and getting around your campsite in the evenings. Some lodges do not have fences so wildlife can wander into the property at any time.
Lion in Klaserie

Free Resource: Packing List for South Africa

Download your free checklist on what to take to South Africa so you can have this handy packing list while you prepare for your adventure!

As you prepare for what I promise will be one of the best vacations you ever take, remember to refer back to this list on what to pack for South Africa. Ensure you have everything you need for a safe, comfortable, and memorable experience. Whether you’re sipping wine in Cape Town, searching for the wildlife on safari or taking pictures with penguins in the background, your visit promises to be an experience you’ll cherish for a lifetime. By packing thoughtfully and prioritizing comfort and safety, you’ll be well-prepared for an unforgettable experience in South Africa.

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