Here are a few things to consider when packing for a South Africa safari in winter (and remember, winter in South Africa is June-Sept):
- Don't wear anything bright and colorful that might distract the animals (or worse - attract them to you!). Stick to neutral or dark colors.
- Prioritize comfort. When you aren’t sitting in your Jeep, you’ll be on foot exploring.
- June through September is technically winter in South Africa which may sound chilly, but is rather mild for those of us that hail from colder climates . Typically high temperatures are in the 70s F (20s C) and lows are in the 40s F (6 C). Given the typical safari schedule of touring at dawn, mid-day and evening one must pack carefully with lots of layers. Despite those temperature ranges, it can often drop to close to freezing in the early morning or after dusk, which feels even colder when riding in a jeep with the top down!
- Cover your feet at all times.
- Don’t over-pack, because most safari lodges offer complimentary same-day laundry.
I'm a light packer and safaris are casual. Here are the items that I found most useful.:
Pants [Lole]: At least two pairs of comfortable khakis or travel pants. You'll be sitting in a jeep for long periods of time and you'll want to be comfortable. Jeans are okay too, but I found it easier to layer with khakis and travel pants. Which brings me to my next point…
Leggings/Thermals [CuddleDuds]: It’s really cold on the morning drives and I found it helpful to wear a thin layer under my pants. You can always take them off mid-day when the temperature rises (you'll spend the middle of the day back at your safari lodge).
Anorak Jacket or Windbreaker with a hood [Amazon or North Face]: Riding in an open air jeep gets windy, so a lined jacket or nylon shell will protect you from the wind chill. I brought a basic EMS black raincoat shell and that was perfect. The olive anorak is definitely more fun!
Warm fleece or sweatshirt with hood [Burton]
Tops that work in layers: Use your favorite tank, short sleeve, long sleeve shirts. I have a long torso so I prefer brands that come in tall or long [Athleta Tank, LuluLemon Long Sleeve]
Chambray shirt [J.Crew Factory]: A button down is a nice change of pace for dinner. I wear this shirt all the time and everywhere.
Gloves [Amazon]: Those glove/mitten (glitten) combos are perfect for safari. Remove the mitten part when you want more dexterity to take pictures (or drain sundowners).
Scarf: Bring a light weight scarf that you can wrap around your face if it gets really cold, wrap around your head or shoulders if the sun is strong and use to dress up an outfit for dinner.
Bathing Suit: in case it's warm enough to swim, or if there is a hot tub
Long socks (2 pairs)
Trail Sneakers or hiking boots [Merrell]
Gear & Extras:
Backpack [Osprey]: Bring a small pack that fits your jacket, fleece, gloves, hat and day gear. For example, I started our morning drives wearing all of the above. As the sun rose I would peel off each layer. By noon I was in a tank top, khaki pants and sneakers. On the afternoon/evening drive, you'll start putting each layer back on as the sun sets.
Camera and Telephoto Lens (if you want close-up photos of the animals)
Sunscreen for face & arms during the day
Tissues - your nose will run in the cold
Visit our South Africa page to read more about our adventures in this beautiful country.