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14 must-have items you need to pack on safari in South Africa

If you’re a person with adventurous spirit who loves to explore and discover new things, and you’re a lover of animals as well, a South African safari is an excellent opportunity to create new, unforgettable memories and see wild animals up close in their natural habitat.

At the same time, a safari trip is probably one of the most demanding types of vacationing when it comes to planning, organization and packing.

To make this easier for you and take your mind off tasks so that you can focus on the excitement of your trip, we’ve prepared this must-have list of items you should pack for a safari in South Africa:

1. Fast-Drying Outfits

You should pack several outfit pieces which dry fast. Most safari spots will offer laundry service, which is mostly washed by hand and dried on the sun, while some expect guests to do their own laundry. In any case, you’ll have a better chance of getting your clothes back in rotation if the dry fast.

2. Green and Brown Clothes

Camouflage-colored clothing is desirable and recommended because it will allow you to blend in with your surroundings more easily. Also, dust and mud marks which are hard to avoid on a safari are less visible on brown or green clothing.

3. Binoculars

Safari binoculars are the typical gear we see in movies: light, beige outfits, wide hats and the must-have binoculars. Nevertheless, the importance of having binoculars at a safari is really huge, and you definitely shouldn’t forget to pack them. However, if you end up forgetting to pack this, you’ll have no problem getting new ones on the spot.

man using binoculars on safari

4. Light-Colored Clothes

You don’t have to pack green or brown clothes exclusively. Generally, it’s recommended that you pack light-colored clothes, with the exception of white, which can attract too much attention.

5. Meds

Medications are, of course, one of the most important do-not-forget items on your packing list. Next to your regular medication, here are some other recommendations that would be good to have on a safari:

  • disinfectant gel – for many areas where you won’t have access to clean water when you get dirty or dusty
  • bandages, sticking plasters, disinfectant spray
  • anti-diarrhea meds – also take probiotics as prevention and something to stop diarrhea if it does happen
  • regular and wet wipes – you can never have enough on a safari; they’re great for refreshing and getting off all the dust
  • pain meds – aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
  • antibiotics – just in case, it’s good to have some handy if you get ill with tough access to doctors
  • aloe vera skin cream – for soothing any type of skin reactions, whether it’s from insect bites or sunburns
  • anti-mosquito spray

With meds and kits, it’s obvious that you probably won’t use any of them, but it’s definitely better safe than sorry. In safari environments, it’s sometimes hard to get access to doctors or meds, so it’s best that you prepare as much as you can by yourself.

6. Layers

Many people believe safari temperatures are hot, hot, hot, so they pack accordingly. However, in most areas of South Africa, mornings and afternoons can be quite fresh, so you need to have clothes for these periods, too.

7. Hats and Caps

Hats are one of the most important must-haves for safaris. They protect you from UV rays, heat and allow you to enjoy your safari experience for far longer. If you don’t pack a hat, at least improvise with some other head protection options.

wearing a hat on safari

8. Reliable Shoes

If you’re planning on exploring the areas on foot, the best choice would be closed shoes with firm soles. Don’t let poor choice of shoes ruin your safari experience! Also, make sure you remember to wear them at least a couple of times before the trip itself. 

9. A Good Guidebook

South African safaris have great guidebooks (available in print or on Amazon Kindle) that perfectly describe what’s it like to be a part of these amazing experiences.

If you research in advance, you’ll know exactly what to expect on a safari and can get back to the info while you’re there.

10. UV Protection

When it comes to packing, it’s never apocalyptic to forget something you can easily buy when you get there. With UV protection at safaris, this is not the case because you should be protected from the minute you step off the plane! Make sure you pack enough and that the SPF is high enough.

11. Flashlight

Flashlights can be quite useful, and in some cases, necessary. As you’re walking between tents at night, going to dinner, or in case of power cuts, you’ll have a secure source of light. 

12. Power Station

A portable power station charger for your mobile phone is another smart thing to pack for your safari trip. During long bus rides and in environment where you don’t have access to electricity for a long time, a power station can be a life saver.

13. Great Camera

It goes without saying that a camera is one of the essential packing items for a safari. Also, if you’re not satisfied with the camera you currently have, now would be a good time to consider upgrading. These photos will be snippets of memories you’ll go back to for decades to come!

camera on safari

14. Money Belt

This hidden wallet is wrapped around the waist and worn under the shirt. It’s very unnoticeable and slim and you should use this to carry around money, cards, your passport and other sensitive items. It won’t bother you when you’re sitting down, and no one will ever notice that you’re wearing it. 


If you pack carefully, strategically and wisely, you can significantly boost the experience of your South African safari. Don’t let tiny things have an impact on this amazing, unforgettable journey – pay attention to this must-haves and good luck! 

Guest post written by: Donald Fomby
Donald is a writer and editor with a background in publishing. Currently, he works as a blog writer for BestEssayEducation and TrustMyPaper. He is also an editor at Studicus. When he is not working and writing, he spends his time reading personal development books or playing basketball.