Packing for a trip to South Africa is as easy or as difficult as you make it. If you want to do it all (like I did), then you’ll need to prepare for it all, but the thought of fitting everything you need (or think you need) into a duffle or carry-on can turn even the most experienced traveler into an impractical overpacker.

So…what’s really necessary for two weeks or more while traveling about? Here’s what to pack for South Africa: thirteen items and accessories I found useful (and a few I WISH I’d brought along) from sand to safari and city to hikes.

1. Layers

Contrary to what you may think, the temps move up and down in South Africa. Pack lightweight, loose, and breathable neutrals (tanks, tees, shorts, and flowy dresses) to mix and match on your daytime journeys, and a pair of long pants (skip the denim) and a soft thick sweater (I roll mine up and use it as a pillow on the plane) for your evening adventures to avoid mosquitos and keep warm.  

*Expert safari guides encourage you to leave reds, yellows, and whites behind as they may attract unwanted attention from animals on your game drives.

2. Sweat Wicking Undergarments

It can get crazy HOT during the days. Try packing sweat-wicking undergarments from brands like Knixwear and Exofficio.  

3. GOOD shoes

Ladies: skip the heels. Pack one pair of durable hiking boots or sneakers strong enough to withstand the rocks and thorns which you may encounter on day hikes and in the bush, a pair of  lightweight closed-toed slip-on flats for general travel, light city-wandering and lounging around, and a pair of sandals or nice-looking flip flops.

Keen Hiking Boots, Hiking in South Africa

4. Rain Jacket

Better safe than sorry…especially when you have an expensive camera in tow. Patagonia makes a simple lightweight designed jacket with un-zippable armpits leaving you able to breathe in a hot downpour.  

5. Hat with a Tie

You’ll thank yourself for bringing one with a wide brim and chin strap when lively desert winds pick up. Check Backcountry for a great selection from an array of options from sporty to stylish.

6. Binoculars

If you’re traveling together with someone, one pair will do just fine. Someone has to take the pictures right? Here’s a high quality pair that will last a lifetime. And another if you’re simply looking for a stylish Instagram accessory.

7. Long Lens for Lifelong Memories

This once in a lifetime adventure isn’t going to photograph itself, so make sure you bring a long lens. For trips like these, and 18-400 is ideal letting you lug around less gear. You can rent one for a fraction of the price from places like or

*If you have a Mac, get TarDisk. You can permanently double the storage on your computer allowing to leave the extra hard drive behind and save some space + weight. I just did this to my own Macbook Pro! We’ll giving one away soon too, so make sure you’re following us on instagram to find out how to enter to win your own.  

8. Water Bag

Yep. I said water bag not bottle. I was recently introduced to Platypus Hydration and now I take their water bags with me on all of my longhaul adventures. Huge space and weight saver!
They offer different sizes, packs, and systems to satisfy your thirst on any kind of activity, all while saving you space and weight in your luggage. And for icing on the cake? Platypus even has a wine bag.

Platypus Hydration, best water bottle, space saving water bottle, what to pack fro South Africa

9. A Good Read + Somewhere To Write

Packing The Power of One was great for the downtime on Safari. Travel Journals are also essential to taking note of your new and exciting experiences.

10. Lightweight Moisturizer

To keep your face fresh and moisturized from Durban to Cape Town. Laxmi will be your new best friend. The safe, natural ingredients make you feel good about putting it on your skin, but you’ll feel even better knowing the company uses impact sourcing to connect low-income women to dignified work.

Laxmi, lightweight travel moisturizer

11. Mineral Sunscreen

I’m head over heels for COOLA sunscreen. Carry-on approved, Coola contains certified organic extracts, antioxidants and vitamins that boost your skin’s natural immune system.

12. One Piece Suit (Ladies)

You’ll thank me later. Packing a one piece on longer adventures is a saving grace from everything you’ll end up overindulging in. I always feel confident in a So De Mel singlet.

So De Mel, San Diego Swimwear, South African Swimwear, What to pack for South Africa

13. Smart Luggage

The most innovative travel bag out there, pack all of the above in Raden (comes in carry on + checked luggage). The bag can weigh itself through an app, charges your phone, and can even tell you how far away your bag is (no more waiting at the luggage carrousel!). If you happen to be in NYC, check out their sleek store on Spring Street.

Have a packing tip of your own? Tell us about it below!