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South Africa Packing List Essentials

South Africa packing list items
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What to Pack for A Trip to South Africa

If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, there are a few items you absolutely cannot be without.

With the country’s drastic seasonal climate changes, unpredictable weather and a huge range of activities to enjoy, your South Africa packing list should include all of the items below.

packing items for South Africa

Travelers need to pack the right clothing and accessories to enjoy all of South Africa’s wonderful activities, like wildlife safaris, wandering downtown Cape Town, or sunbathing on the beaches of the Western Cape.

South Africa’s climate varies greatly, and can also be quite harsh. For instance, temperatures in Johannesburg can be much higher than places along the coast in southern South Africa.

Here are all my recommendations of what to pack for a trip to South Africa!

Windbreaker Jacket

South Africa’s Western Cape is known for its fierce winds. If you’re planning to visit Cape Town or other areas in the south of the county, a lightweight windbreaker jacket is a must.

things to pack for South Africa

A hooded windbreaker will protect you from any blowing sand while you visit areas like the Cape of Good Hope or Boulder Penguins Colony. On particularly windy days, salt and sand will make exploring uncomfortable, unless you have some sort of shell-jacket protection.

Day Backpack

A day backpack is probably the number one thing to pack for a South African Safari but is also useful while trekking the cliffside beaches of the Western Cape.

The backpack you choose should be large enough to hold things like a water bottle, a change of clothes, and a few other small items like a backup battery and sunscreen.

Travel backpack for South Africa

I suggest checking out for their fantastic waterproof day bags and rugged shoulder sling bags. Their design is quite fitting for a safari backpack.

If you prefer something more modern for traveling around cities, a nice canvas backpack always looks great. Whichever backpack you choose, make sure it has a sturdy structure and enough compartments to keep organized.

Check out wolfyy’s travel shop page for all my favorite luggage, backpacks & travel bags.

Clothing You Can Layer

Your South Africa packing list needs to include clothing suitable for both hot and cold weather conditions, as well as rainy days. In the spring and autumn seasons, temperatures can be hot during the day but drop drastically after sunset.

Clothing to pack for South Africa

Bringing several layers of clothing that can be removed as needed will help you stay just as warm or cool as you like. I recommend a t-shirt under a lightweight sweater which can go underneath an insulating jacket or pullover.

A waterproof top layer is best. You can use your windbreaker jacket, as described earlier, for protection from the rain.

Proper Footwear

You’ll be on your feet all day long, so make sure to pack the right footwear. Supportive athletic sneakers are a must, no matter where you’re visiting in South Africa, or what season it is.

best shoes for South Africa

I love Teva sandals for warmer weather since they have the support and grip of sneakers but the breathability and summer-friendly feel of flip flops.

Lace-up water shoes are another great accessory to pack if you plan to explore rocky beaches.

On-The-Go South Africa Packing List Essentials

Packing a few other on-the-go items will keep you feeling comfortable and fresh anywhere you are. Cleansing skin wipes are an absolute must for me, perfect for removing sweat and dirt from being on safari or lying on the beach.

If you’ll be hiking in South Africa, pack some handkerchiefs to use as sweat-absorbing bandanas.

battery power bank

A portable power bank will keep your electronics charged, especially if you’ll be away from your hotel for long periods of time. You won’t want to miss out on taking photos of South Africa’s picturesque landscapes or stunning wildlife.

Sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 coverage should be used all times of the year, considering South Africa’s consistently high UV index all year long.

First Aid Kit

Don’t overlook packing a basic first aid kit to deal with minor injuries.

I cut my toe badly on a rocky beach in Cape Town and really kicked myself for not having any first aid items. Plus, it’s much harder to make a trip to a pharmacy or doctor once you’re already injured.

beaches in South Africa

Some essential items you should pack include waterproof bandages, some alcohol pads for disinfection, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and antihistamines just to name a few.

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Now that you know what to pack for South Africa, you can start planning more details of your trip! And remember, traveling is so much more than just ticking off landmarks on a map. Save some time for spontaneous adventures and meeting locals.

Don’t forget to check out wolfyy’s gay guides to Cape Town and Johannesburg!

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