This guide of What To Pack For South Africa is the perfect list to make sure you have everything you need to travel safely and comfortably.
Congratulations on booking a trip to South Africa! Cape Town is a gorgeous city with plenty of things to do and see. You definitely won’t get bored.
When visiting South Africa, I did a wide assortment of activities including kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, sightseeing, and wine tasting… just to name a few.
So with so many activities to choose from, you’re probably wondering what on earth you need to bring with you! And all while trying to bring as minimal luggage as possible.
Sit back and relax, this list of what to pack for South Africa is all you will need to be fully prepared for any adventure in this amazing country.
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What To Pack For South Africa
Traveling to a foreign country can be a little intimidating, especially on a completely different continent! This packing guide for South Africa is the perfect checklist to make sure you have everything you need to travel safely and comfortably.
Documents and Paperwork
Passport – South Africa is actually a really easy country to travel to. If you are American, you do not need a travel Visa to come here for a short period of time. All you need is your passport!
Vaccinations – As of summer 2023, South Africa does not require you to have a covid vaccine, and won’t even check. As far as other vaccines, there really isn’t anything required if you stick to Cape Town and the southern coast of South Africa.
Travel Insurance – Always recommended anywhere you travel! South Africa was actually hit by a small tsunami a few weeks before I visited. Had there been more damage, my travel insurance would have covered my trip. Not to mention any injuries I might get while out being adventurous!
Travel Documents – I personally always print my travel documents out, including any information on transfers, hotels, excursions, etc. You never know when your phone might die or you are just in an area of no service… which happens often around Table Mountain!
Credit Cards – One thing I did not know was that the majority of Cape Town, and most of South Africa, has gone cashless. They require cards for everything. I even had a $2 ice cream and they wouldn’t accept cash. So make sure you bring a card you can use overseas!
Travel Adapter Plug – The number one most important thing to bring to South Africa is the correct adaptor plug! This adaptor plug is all you need! It works in every single outlet throughout South Africa. It has both regular plugs and USB outlets. This single plug was all I needed to charge all my devices and even use my portable hair straightener.
Portable Charger – Most likely you’ll be out all day exploring South Africa and will need to charge your phone (keep it charged to call your Uber!). Bring a small, portable charger with you to charge all your devices on the go. I really like this portable charger because it can charge any device not just an iPhone.
Camera – South Africa is known for its scenery and wildlife. And sometimes you just can’t capture it well enough on your phone. If ever a place to bring a good camera, South Africa is the place. I love this Fujifilm Mirrorless Camera. It’s easier to use than a DSLR and WAY lighter and compact. Making it perfect to travel with.
Portable Ear Buds – These Bluetooth earbuds are far better than any Beats or Apple Air pods. They are WAY cheaper and you can actually touch them to pause or double tap to change the song. They are comfy and work super great.
Go Pro – Some things just need a good video to capture the moment. Times I’m glad I had my Go Pro: Snorkeling with seals, cage diving with sharks, zip lining, and kayaking in the ocean.
Hiking Gear In South Africa
Backpack – If I go somewhere that I know I’ll be hiking, I always bring my favorite Osprey Day Pack. I’ll usually use this as a carry-on bag when I fly and as a hiking pack when I hike. It also works great to just bring with me a change of clothes if I do water activities. Which South Africa has a ton of!
Lightweight Hiking Shoes – Having a good pair of hiking shoes is a MUST in South Africa. Not only are there tons of hiking trails, but some places would just be more comfortable with them.
If you head to Boulder Beach, The Cape of Good Hope, or a safari… you’ll be glad you had some! I LOVE these lightweight hiking shoes. They not only do the job, are super comfy, but also very lightweight and easy to pack (goodbye are the days you need to wear your hiking boots on the airplane!).
Headlamp – The best hikes in South Africa are seen during sunrise or sunset. Which means you’ll most likely be hiking in the dark. Bring some headlamps for hiking so you dont get caught in the dark on the side of a mountain!
Collapsible water bottle – I made the mistake of lugging around my hydroflask and boy was that a big mistake. I should have gotten a collapsible water bottle. Not only to carry around town but for hiking as well.
What To Bring For Your Water Adventures
When you think of South Africa, you probably think more of mountains and safari. But South Africa actually has a lot of coastline with plenty of water activities to discover. Here’s what I recommend you bring for water sports:
Dry Bag – I have both a medium-sized dry bag I’ll bring on water adventures and a small-sized dry bag that fits my wallet, keys, and phone. The small dry bag was perfect for the day I went kayaking on the ocean or even shark cage diving (yes… I did that!!). This waterproof fanny pack also works wonders! It keeps your valuables on your body and is super airtight. I use it when I go snorkeling.
Waterproof Phone Case – These waterproof phone cases from Amazon are super inexpensive and work like a charm. I’ve taken them snorkeling many times where they are submerged in water for over an hour and keep my phone bone dry. This way, you can take photos and videos while underwater. Which was SUPER necessary when I went snorkeling with seals in South Africa.
Water Shoes – Just like good hiking shoes, you will want to bring a pair of shoes that not only go in the water but can walk around on dry land too. These Tevas are my favorite. They are waterproof and can literally walk on rocks in the ocean, but are comfortable enough to walk around town in too.
Quick Dry Towel – Trust me, if you go to South Africa, you’re going to get wet. If you like adventures, you’ll be kayaking and snorkeling. And if you are looking for relaxation, Camps Bay has the best beaches! I like bringing my own towel when I travel and this Dry Fox Co Quick Dry Towel is not only super compact so it’s easy to pack, but it dries super fast too. I never go anywhere without it.
What To Pack For South Africa: Site Seeing
Crossbody Bag – Cape Town isn’t known for being the safest city ever. There are a lot of homeless and they have no problem coming right up to you asking for money. I used this cross-body bag to keep my valuables safely tucked into my chest. Which makes it super hard for someone to pickpocket you. Plus it’s super cute too.
Scarf – It may sound odd but I would highly recommend bringing a lightweight scarf with you for several reasons. First, it’s actually really cute and dresses up an outfit for dinner. Second, it can be used to shield your face from the sun. If going on safari, it can be used to cover your nose and mouth to keep the dirt out. I used this lightweight super soft scarf almost every day I was in South Africa.
Binoculars – Between the scenery and the wildlife, dont forget to bring a pair of travel binoculars so you can get a good glimpse of everything!
Rain Jacket – Weather in South Africa can be very unpredictable. You can be warm at the coast one minute, then freezing at the Cape of Good Hope, to rain and windy on the top of Table Mountain… all in the same day. I like to bring a packable lightweight rain jacket with me when I travel to destinations like South Africa. It not only keeps you dry but keeps you warm too.
Conclusion: What To Pack For South Africa
Visiting South Africa will be a trip of a lifetime! I loved every minute I spent there and would happily go again. But in spending two weeks both in Cape Town and along the Garden Route, there are many things I’m so glad I brought with me. As well as several items I wish I had!
If there is anything else you think should be added to this list… leave it in the comments below!
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