What to pack for your holiday to South Africa

So you’ve booked your trip to South Africa. You are going to have the trip of a lifetime but what to pack? Here’s a checklist you can work through before heading to the airport for that glass of champers.

Relax by the pool

Grand Dedale: Relax by the pool

A note about climate

We hope you are going to experience the beautiful blue skies and sunshine that South Africa is famous for but, even if you are travelling in the height of the South African summer, it’s worth packing a few warmer items as cities like Cape Town can get a lot cooler in the evenings. Johannesburg and Durban also experience summer rains and in winter Cape Town and Johannesburg can get rather chilly.

If you are visiting mid-October to mid-February, you will be in the height of summer. If in Cape Town, it’s likely to be dry with the occasional windy day. If in Durban or Johannesburg, you can expect some rain showers. Shorts, cool dresses, swim wear are a must! As well as a rain jacket.

Mid-February to the end of April is Autumn. Again, you can enjoy some lovely weather at this time of the year. The sea will be warm up in Durban and there shouldn’t be much chance of rain. In the Cape, temperatures can start to drop so do bring some warm clothing.

May to July is winter here in South Africa. Although beach days are indeed possible during this time, especially in Kwa-Zulu Natal, it is likely that you will experience quite a bit of rain when in the Cape and chilly temperatures in Johannesburg.

August to mid-October is Spring. This is a lovely time to visit, especially the Western Cape where the flowers are spectacular and the whales are breaching!

Smart or casual?

Even the smartest restaurants here in South Africa are generally pretty laid-back. You won’t be expected to wear a suit or tie and can enjoy the more casual attire!


Whatever time of year you are travelling, pack some high factor sunscreen and apply it before you set off. You never know where your day is going to take you – you may start off having a coffee in Camps Bay and find yourself climbing Table Mountain by lunch. The sun here in South Africa is a lot harsher than in Europe due to its proximity to the hole in the ozone layer. Sunscreen really is a must on nearly every day here in SA.

A good read

No holiday is complete without a good read. Here are some of our favourite books to read if you are planning a trip to South Africa. Read a few in preparation and pack some of the page-turners to read by the pool.

Head over Hills

Head over Hills, Knysna

A bird book

Wherever you are travelling in South Africa, you will find wonderful bird life and getting to know the birds by name is a pretty rewarding thing to do. Come prepared with a great bird book and enjoy the view!


Most plugs here in South Africa are round pinned 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2 prong. Come with a few adapters and you won’t need to hunt around your hotel room every time you need to plug in a charger or laptop.


How could you forget? Plenty of space to save those images and a great lens if you are planning to take some wildlife shots.


Walking shoes

With mountains to climb, view points to be reached, beaches to be enjoyed, it’s worth packing a good pair of walking shoes and if you love hiking, then bring your favourite, worn-in pair, so that you can enjoy the many hiking trails on offer.


We all love GPS but sometimes, when we rely on only that little screen, we can miss out on the big picture. If a road trip is part of your holiday, buy a good old fashioned map book – even if it is just to get an idea of where you are in the world.

Londolozi lion cub

Londolozi lion cub

When on safari

If you’ve got a safari booked, then you might need to take a few additional items with you so that you are fully prepared. Here’s our list:

Mosquito repellent

If you are going on a safari in a malaria area, then of course, you need to take the necessary anti-malaria precautions and speak to your doctor before you travel. Even if your safari is not in a malaria zone, pack some mosquito repellent and spray it on a few times a day to keep the mozzies away.


It can be reassuring to take your own torch, even if it’s just to find the light switch in the middle of the night!

Suitable clothing

It’s advisable to take something warm. Early morning and late evening game drives in open vehicles can get cold so pack a fleece or warm top to take with you. It is also advisable to dress in neutral colours – greens and browns – so that you blend in with your surroundings. You don’t want any bright clothing to scare off animals who would rather not be disturbed.

Safari in style at Singita

Safari in style at Singita


You won’t get very far without a valid passport and the advice is to have three blank pages on entering.

Keen to pack that suitcase and head down South? We hope so! Get in touch and we would be delighted to help you plan your dream trip. Safari…beach…winelands and more… you can have it all.


About the Author
Richard is the Founding MD of Greatest Africa & Richard Hilton Vineyards. He lives in Somerset West with his wife and two daughters. He is passionate about the Cape, travel, global wines, wine education and sharing his experiences of this beautiful country that he calls home.

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