Table of Contents

29 Top South Africa Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Mountain near Cape Town
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South Africa offers environments that range from craggy cliffs, pristine beaches, lush forests, lagoons, and the bustling cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg. As the southernmost country on the African continent, South Africa is a sought-after destination for tourists, travelers, and adventurers.

The below list will guide you on what to wear in South Africa, what NOT to bring, and the answers to the top South Africa FAQs. Have a great time, and make the most of this incredible destination!

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What to Pack for South Africa – 29 Essentials

  • 1. Neck Wallet

    In a destination as touristy as South Africa, you’ll want to prevent pickpocketing and petty theft by keeping your belongings organized and secure. This neck wallet is essential for keeping your phone, passport, money, and other valuables securely fastened beneath your clothes and out of reach for wandering hands.

    Available on with an exclusive 15% discount using the coupon code “HERO”.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 2. Binoculars with Phone Adapter

    If there was ever a time to bring binoculars on a trip, it’s now. They are totally essential if you’re going on safari – you never know which member of the Big Five you might see! These ones are waterproof and can hang easily from your neck when not in use. They also connect to your phone or laptop so you can screenshot the breathtaking sights you’re zooming in on.

    Binoculars with Phone Adapter

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Using a VPN is something you may not have previously considered, but it is an absolute must-have when traveling abroad. Turn on your VPN when you connect to public sources of WiFi in hotels, cafes, and airports to prevent potential hackers from accessing your passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information. It adds a layer of encryption to your data and we even use ours at home or Airbnbs.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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  • 4. South Africa Power Adapter

    One of the most important items not to forget to pack is a good quality power adapter. Using this handy adapter, you’ll be able to plug in your electronics from your home country with ease in South African sockets. This one also includes USB ports for charging phones, cameras, kindles, laptops, and more.

    south africa adapter new

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  • 5. Cooling Towels

    The hot African sun is no joke! Bring a magical cooling towel to beat the heat, especially in the summer months. This brilliant invention is chemical-free but drops to 30 degrees colder than the outside air for up to an hour! Want more frosty relief? Simply add more water and wring it out, and you’ll have all-day comfort that can be wrapped around your neck, worn as a headband, or draped around your arms.

    Cooling Towels

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  • 6. Travel Insurance for South Africa

    For your trip to South Africa, make sure you have good, reliable travel insurance. This is a non-negotiable because your domestic provider generally won’t cover you overseas. Beyond offering you peace of mind during your trip, it will cover your costs in case of emergencies like theft, cancelations, and medical expenses.

    We always use Faye because they are modernizing insurance. Everything is handled through their easy-to-use app, from claims to reimbursements, without all the aimless paperwork. It’s super affordable and not worth the risk of forgoing.

    Travel Insurance for South Africa

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  • 7. Jet Lag Relief

    From almost any starting point in the world, it’s a long way to South Africa! These jet lag relief supplements are a necessity for me on long journeys. Between the drastic time changes, layovers, and international flights, travel days are very tiring. This supplement uses chamomile and gentle botanical flowers to ease exhaustion and make your journey so much smoother.

    jet lag relief

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  • 8. Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

    Resorts and big cities will have potable tap water, but you can’t always be sure about the sanitation of all tap water in Africa, especially in more rural areas or out on excursion days. In general, it’s smart to have autonomy over your water supply. This filtered bottle by Grayl removes harmful bacteria, viruses like Hepatitis A, sediment, microplastics, and more. Don’t gamble with your health. It’s a bit pricey but the quality reflects it.

    Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

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  • 9. Packing Cubes

    If you don’t travel using packing cubes, you’re doing it all wrong! Packing cubes are by far the best way to remain organized and avoid overpacking on trips overseas. This set is great because it comes in a variety of fun colors and includes extra bags for laundry and dirty shoes.

    packing cubes

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  • 10. Hiking Shoes

    You’ll most likely do a lot of walking when you’re in South Africa, whether it’s backcountry hiking, waterfall hunting, or big game stalking. In all cases, sturdy walking shoes are essential. These ones are my all-time favorites. Here’s an equally high-quality pair of hiking boots for men.

    Hiking Shoes

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  • 11. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Whether you’re spending the day on safari or at the beach, a quick-dry travel towel is one of the most versatile items you can pack. Perfect for keeping you cool on a hot day or tossing back in your pack after a day in the ocean, this travel towel is a fantastic compact and lightweight option. We use ours as a sweatband, seat cover, packing cushion, and more.

    Quick-Dry Travel Towel

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  • 12. Insect-Repellent Wristbands

    In summer, South Africa is teeming with pesky mosquitoes. In addition to wearing bug spray, you may want to think about taking malaria pills during your trip. Make sure to wear an insect-repelling wristband like this one to keep away those mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, gnats, and chiggers. I double up with deet-free, non-toxic bug spray as well.

    Insect-Repellent Wristbands

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  • 13. Discounted Tickets on South Africa Tours

    The real gems of Africa lie in its nature and wildlife. You’ll be whale-watching, visiting the penguins of Capetown, and visiting Lion Park. From wine country to safaris, South Africa has so many experiences to offer.

    Get Your Guide has the best excursions around the world, and we love their flexible cancelation policy in case plans change. You can read reviews to ensure you don’t get stuck in a lackluster itinerary, but be sure to book early cause some tours require advanced reservations.

    Discounted Tickets on South Africa Tours

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  • 14. Activated Charcoal

    You can get food poisoning anywhere, even from tap water at home. Especially if it’s your first time in Africa, you will undoubtedly be intrigued by the wide variety of regional delicacies to try and want to enjoy the local fare. Bring along activated charcoal tablets to absorb unfamiliar toxins in your system to keep you enjoying South Africa and out of the bathroom.

    Activated Charcoal

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  • 15. Electrolytes

    If you do get any food poisoning, sickness from the water, or sun exposure – electrolytes will be your best friend. These will replenish your minerals and vitamins and supercharge your water. Plus they taste great!


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  • 16. Hanging Toiletries Bag

    Big bathrooms and countertop space are not guaranteed in South Africa. Some places may only have a sink so you’ll be so grateful to have this hanging toiletry bag – it hangs on any door or hook, creating a built-in shelf for all of your haircare, skincare, hygiene products, makeup, facial towels, etc. It’s a sanity saver!

    Hanging Toiletries Bag

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  • 17. Daypack

    Chances are, you’re going to want to explore one of South Africa’s national parks or at least hit some local hiking trails during your stay. Stay organized during outdoor outings, sightseeing, and everything in between with a solid daypack. This one is well-designed, lightweight, and great for a full day on your feet.


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  • 18. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    Crowded places can attract thieves. We’ve actually had something stolen out of our checked luggage, so now we always use luggage locks. These are also good for crowded places where you can use them on your backpack and purse, as well as for lockers. They’re TSA-approved so you won’t have any hang-ups at security.

    TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

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  • 19. Waterproof Pocket Blanket

    This pocket blanket is a brilliant addition to your packing list. This blanket folds up into a compact hand-sized pouch and it’s waterproof, so no one’s clothes will get soggy or stained. It’s perfect for travel and we’ve used it for picnics, festivals, concerts, events, or just hanging out to marvel at gorgeous landscapes!

    Waterproof Pocket Blanket

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  • 20. Waterproof Phone Case

    One of the perks of South Africa is its stunning coastline and hundreds of beaches. Be sure to bring a waterproof phone case to ensure your lifeline is protected from moisture, sun, sand, and scratches. This one allows you to film underwater, which can result in some stunning snorkeling film (with sound!).

    waterproof phone pouch

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  • 21. Swimsuit Cover-up

    Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit cover-up if you’re hitting up a beach town like Durban or Port Elizabeth! This one is cute, versatile, and looks great during a day of swimming, diving, jogging along the beach, or hiking through the jungle. Pack this with a cute swimsuit and some flip-flops.

    Swimsuit Cover-up

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  • 22. Convertible Hiking Pants

    Packing light is always the way to go for an international adventure. These convertible pants are ideal since they change from long pants to shorts by simply unzipping the pant leg, this is nifty if they get wet or muddy on safari. They also have heat-dispersing material that helps regulate your body temperature. High-tech and chic!

    Convertible Hiking Pants

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  • 23. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    Especially if you plan to use your phone for photos, music, or navigation, you won’t want to worry about your battery dying at an inconvenient time. There are not a ton of charging stations all over Africa, particularly when you’re away from town. This lipstick charger sits in your bag next to your electronics and charges things on-the-go!

    Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

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  • 24. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Certain parts of South Africa get very rainy, especially in the wet season between October and April. This umbrella is a necessity. It covers two people and is very durable against the elements. We even use it to block the sun on hot days. It comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee and the lightweight carrying case is a cherry on top!

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

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  • 25. Bandana

    Bandanas are incredibly useful while traveling. They can serve as headbands, face masks, napkins for snacks, and so much more. They can be used to protect your neck from the sun or as a scarf to keep warm when it’s cold. Tie one of these to your daypack before leaving home.


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  • 26. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    African souvenirs are an absolute treat! Use this “just in case” bag to do some shopping on your getaway. Africa is the diamond epicenter of the world, but also has amazing goods you’ll want to gift to your loved ones like tea, aromatic spices, textiles, wines, jewelry, art, etc. This bag fits under your plane seat and spares you carry-on fees since it counts as your personal item. Boom!

    Packable “Just in Case” Bag

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  • 27. Sturdy Sandals

    You’ll likely be spending a lot of time on your feet so you’ll want something comfortable and breathable to wear all day under the hot sun. These sandals have traction and solid support, fantastic for any South African activity while also being easy to take off in people’s homes.

    Sturdy Sandals

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  • 28. Gorgeous Jumpsuit

    For evenings out in the larger cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, you’ll want to dress to impress. This stunning jumpsuit is perfect for a night on the town, as it’s lightweight and breezy and can be dressed up or down depending on your accessories. It works for nightlife and also day, while also suiting the culture well and flattering many body types.

    Gorgeous Jumpsuit

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  • 29. Female Urination Device

    Ladies, it may sound odd but it’s something you will regret not bringing – this female urination device works like a funnel and allows women the ability to pee standing up! Sometimes there is no restroom nearby or it’s a squat toilet (eh hm… a hole in the ground). So this handy device will free you of portapotty trauma and you can skip the sore bladder from holding it!

    Female Urination Device

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What should I wear in South Africa?

In South Africa, breezy and casual is the accepted style. On beach days, plan on wearing swimsuits, tank tops, shorts, cover-ups and sundresses. When you go out for drinks or dinner, simple and cute outfits are good, so bring some simple dresses, a nice pair of khakis, and simple sandals. A hat and sunglasses are also a good idea too. For any athletic activities, shorts and a tank top are good to beat the heat. No matter what, bring comfortable walking shoes. A nicer outfit and heels or dress shoes might come in handy for going out to dinner or dance clubs in one of South Africa’s big cities.

What should WOMEN wear in South Africa? – (Click to expand)
Since locals tend to dress fairly conservatively, try to avoid wearing anything too revealing. Only wear swimwear at the beach and pool, and cover up with loose clothing or a sarong. Longer skirts and breezy pants will help you beat the heat.

What should MEN wear in South Africa? – (Click to expand)
In general, casual, versatile clothing like t-shirts, shorts, polos and swimwear are good to pack. If you’re planning on going to any nightclubs, know that men are required to wear a shirt with a collar, and no sneakers or tennis shoes are allowed.

Packing for the Seasons in South Africa

South Africa is a year-round destination because of its fluctuating regional climates. The Cape has wonderfully hot, dry weather in its summer months (November-February). Dress in lightweight clothing and bring walking sandals, like Chacos or Tevas. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights during summer and spring. When packing for an autumn or winter trip ( June–August) , remember to pack long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, warm socks, a jacket and raincoat. Scarves, gloves and beanies may also come in handy.

How to dress for activities in South Africa? – (Click to expand)
Safaris – Wear neutral, lightweight clothing on safari trips. Also bring a wide brim sun hat, and plenty of sunscreen!

Hiking – Always wear synthetic fabrics, so that they don’t trap moisture. A solid synthetic short-sleeve t-shirt is a good idea. If it’s chilly, make sure to bring a midweight synthetic or fleece long-sleeve top to layer on top.

Beach days – Bring a few swimsuits and coverups that dry quickly. Sunglasses and sandals are also a great idea.

Dining and Dancing in Cape Town – Cape Town is an up-and-coming fashion capital, so feel free to dress up! Think dresses, button downs, heels and dress shoes.

Wine Tasting – If you’re headed to the beautiful Stellenbosch to taste some world class wines, dress nicely, and wear appropriate footwear like sandals with a low heel.

Sightseeing – Casual or athletic clothing is fine. Wear comfortable walking shoes, or your hiking boots if you’re looking to save space in your backpack or luggage.

What NOT to bring to South Africa

  • 1.Short shorts or Mini Skirts

    In general, revealing clothing is considered inappropriate in almost all parts of Africa. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your shorts reach your fingertips when your hands are hanging by your sides.

  • 2.Lots of Cash

    Most larger towns and cities in South Africa have ATMs, so you can take out local currency once you arrive instead of carrying around all your money at once.

  • 3.Mosquito Net

    Pretty much all hotels, hostels and airbnbs will already have mosquito nets installed.

  • 4.Unnecessary Valuables

    Things can get lost on the road, and there’s always some risk of theft when traveling anywhere. Unless you totally, definitely need it, leave the valuables (like jewelry) at home.

What NOT to wear in South Africa? – (Click to expand)
Stay away from short shorts, and revealing tank tops. Unless you’re going on a safari, don’t wear safari clothing. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you’re walking around any major cities in khaki coloured and cliched safari clothing!

FAQs for South Africa travel:

  • 1. What’s the best time of year to go to South Africa?

    South Africa’s summer months are December to March. Autumn is April to May. Winter is June to August, and spring is September to November. Because South Africa covers such a large area, and each region’s offerings change with the seasons. Check local weather conditions throughout the year, and plan from there.

  • 2. What languages are spoken in South Africa?

    There are eleven official languages of South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Fewer than two percent of South Africans speak a first language other than an official one. Most South Africans can speak more than one language!

  • 3. What kind of adapter do I need to bring?

    In South Africa, D, M and N power sockets are used.

  • 4. How can I capture all my South Africa trip memories?

    Bring a camera, GoPro, or video camera with an extra battery to capture the special moments of your trip. If your batteries are rechargeable, make sure you bring the charger! Apps like One Second Everyday also make for good memory savers.