A South African safari is as exotic as it gets for many travellers; an adventure completely removed from the reality of everyday life in a different environment, with different rhythms and usually a very different wardrobe. When it comes to planning your packing list, variable temperatures, baggage restrictions and available activities should all be taken into account but one thing is universally true: comfort is key!

Essential clothing

The first thing to consider when putting together your safari looks is the time of year. Summer in South Africa (November–March) – especially in the northern Kruger and at Welgevonden Game Reserve where our lodges can be found – is hot and humid, with brief but regular afternoon thunderstorms which are responsible for the lush, green landscape. Daytime temperatures can climb to 35ºC/95ºF or more, while evenings are usually comfortably warm and still.

Winter (May–September) is comparatively dry with a more dramatic temperature fluctuation that requires a more thoughtful approach to packing. Mornings and evenings can be icy (around 10ºC/50ºF) but days are usually sunny and pleasant, hovering around 20ºC/68ºF–25ºC/77ºF, if not warmer. Multiple light layers are recommended, especially while out on a game drive, where a warm hat and a cosy fleece will protect against the wind chill while a cap and cotton t-shirt will be more comfortable when the sun is up.

Cut and colour are equally important when thinking about what clothing to bring. The general rule of thumb for your safari wardrobe is to stick to neutral, earth-toned shades like khaki, brown, beige and tan in solid blocks while avoiding black, white, bold patterns and bright colours. Choosing casual, versatile pieces in natural, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen will allow you to build a capsule wardrobe that covers you for most eventualities, while the lodge boutique can always be used to fill in the gaps once you arrive. Also, don’t forget that most items can be laundered on site during your stay so a few, well-considered outfits are really all you need.


Shoes can take up a lot of precious space in your luggage so it’s important to think about form as well as function when choosing your footwear. For game drives and walking safaris, as well as for long travel days, you can’t go wrong with a pair of sturdy hiking boots. The closed toes and durable material make them ideal for stepping off the game vehicle or traversing the reserve on foot, while wearing them en route to and from your destination is comfortable and practical, as it saves you finding a spot for what is otherwise a bulky item in your bag.

Sandals in a versatile colour and/or a pair of flip-flops are also recommended. They are easy to slip on and off and will match with most outfits, taking you effortlessly from poolside to fireside while unwinding at the lodge. One thing you definitely don’t need? Anything with a heel!

Health & hygiene

Basic toiletries and a few first aid essentials are all that is required when contemplating your wash bag while on safari. Rather than lugging full-sized tubs and bottles into the African bush, make the effort to decant your essentials into travel-sized containers and making use of solid soaps, shaving and shampoo bars to avoid messy spills.

As with all modern hotels, your suite will have basics like shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, bath salts, tissues, cotton wool and earbuds, while the lodge also keeps a store of toothbrushes, toothpaste and other oft-forgotten necessities on hand, just in case.

Bugs and mosquitoes are a fact of life in the wilderness, although not as much as one may think. Insect repellent is made available to all of our guests, but of course you are welcome to bring your own, while the use of fans and low lighting both act as good deterrents to unwanted creepy crawlies. Welgevonden Game Reserve, where you will find Tshwene Lodge and Ekuthuleni Lodge, is malaria-free, while the northern Kruger, which is home to The Outpost and Pel’s Post, is a low-risk area, so the use of prophylactics is optional. Please consult your doctor prior to departure on the most practical approach for mitigating this risk.

A good quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen should also be an essential part of your toiletry bag – we recommend SPF 30 or higher for both face and body. A basic first aid kit (think painkillers, antihistamines, antiseptic lotion, plasters, cough drops, etc.) is also very handy for dealing with minor medical issues and offering a little added peace of mind while travelling far from home.

Gear & equipment

There are a few specialty items that are worth squeezing into your bag when going on safari that will greatly enhance the wilderness experience. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is a good pair of binoculars for close-up examination of the diverse flora and fauna surrounding our safari lodges. While a spare pair is usually available to borrow while out on game drive, it’s always safest to bring your own to ensure uninterrupted viewing, especially when it comes to the more exciting bird and animal sightings.

Equally important is any photographic equipment to help capture the lifelong memories that are waiting to be made at our Rare Earth Retreats. A smartphone with a good camera should not be underestimated and is more than adequate for most wildlife encounters, but if photography is your thing then a professional camera will be invaluable. Don’t forget spare batteries, chargers, lenses and memory cards, as well as the relevant plugs and adaptors for using them.

Please note that the use of drones is not generally permitted in the Kruger National Park or Welgevonden Game Reserve, as well as most other reserves and conservation areas in South Africa.

A note on luggage

Charter flights – the shorter hops between major airports and the airstrips in the bush – tend to have strict baggage allowance policies due to the weight restrictions on smaller planes. These generally include the use of soft bags only (no hard cases allowed) with a limit of 20kg/44lbs per person. A top tip when travelling to our lodges via charter flight is to avoid the use of bags with wheels, as the this can add a lot of unnecessary weight that could otherwise be assigned to clothing, shoes and equipment.

Please check with your agent or our Reservations team prior to departure to ensure that you are fully aware of the baggage policy that applies to your travel to and from our lodges.


Photos by @jemmawildsafaristyled, @ourplanetinmylens and @our_birding_family