There are many lists out there telling travellers what to pack, and yet many travellers still get it wrong. Over packing is also a big problem. International flights have a high luggage allowance, but on many of the smaller planes and safari vehicles the amount of luggage you can bring is limited, and you can end up paying a lot of money for being over-weight.
So what should you pack?
Light, cotton clothing in light tones:
Many first time visitors arrive in South Africa and stick out because they look like a safari cliché. Choose neutral tones and light fabrics, preferably cotton. These fabrics work best in a hot climate. Pack about 3 t-shirts and 3 pairs of shorts. Do not pack white shirts, they show the dirt up easily and make you highly visible to the animals. Other colours to avoid are red which attracts animals, and if you are going into an area where Tsetse flies are present then you should also avoid the colours blue and black.
For the ladies:
You can pack one smarter set of clothing for if you are staying at a private lodge, but for the most part informal. Much more important however is to pack a good support bra, as game drives can sometimes be a little rough.
Long sleeved shirt and trousers:
Pack a couple of long sleeved shirts and a pair of long trousers. The evenings can be chilly and they are also good for keeping mosquitoes and other insects at bay.
A lightweight waterproof jacket:
The temperatures in Kruger can vary greatly. In winter you can be very cold on a morning game drive, but perfectly comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt at midday. The secret is to wear several layers that you can take off or add to as needed.
A good pair of trainers (takkies):
Unless you are doing a walking safari, there is no need to pack heavy duty hiking boots. A good durable pair of trainers is all that is needed. You might also like to pack a pair of sandals for around the lodge or pool.
A wide brimmed hat:
Many first time visitors to Africa underestimate the strength of the Sun even in the late afternoons. Choose a hat that has a wide brim to shade your eyes and the back of your neck (this is an area most people forget, and where they get sunburnt.
Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF or sun protection factor of between 30 and 50. Do not underestimate the power of the African sunshine – the last thing you want on holiday is a bas sunburn or sunstroke.
It is a good idea to pack a pair of sunglasses as the glare from the sun during the middle of the day can hurt your eyes and give you a headache, especially if you are not used to it.
A camera, charger and spare memory cards:
You will want to take lots of photographs so make sure you take plenty of memory cards for your camera. Don’t forget to pack the charger.
A light weight flashlight:
Packing a small flashlight is always a good idea. Sometimes you have to walk in the dark and being able to see where you are going in the bush is always a good thing!
Pack a small bag or medical kit with some pain killers, any chronic medications (enough for the trip), some insect repellent, any vitamins etc. Most of the lodges and Rest Camps will have a basic medical aid kit; just pack the things that you might not be able to get in South Africa. Take Lip balm and a small bottle of moisturiser.
The Kruger National Park is in a malarial area. Please consult your doctor about prophylaxis before your trip and do not forget to pack it.
A good book:
Consider packing a book that you will enjoy reading. There will be some leisure time during the middle of the day, or while waiting for a flight when you will be grateful to have a book to read.