What To Pack on a Summer Vacation to South Africa

Read on to find out the most important things to pack for a summer holiday in South Africa.

South Africa is one of the most popular summer destinations in the world. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, and the sights and sounds are unmatched. When planning a trip there, the question of what you should pack will always come up.


South Africa is fully accustomed to having tourists, and there is very little you won’t find; however, there are some things you should take, from your Birkenstock NZ to mosquito repellant and even a few warm layers.

Rain Gear

Depending on where you are in the country, Summer is often the season for rain. While you won’t get very cold, you can get very wet; therefore, packing a raincoat and some rain gear should be at the top of your list.

The weather can also change quite quickly, so getting a raincoat that folds small and can fit into a backpack should be your go-to choice.


If you are traveling from Europe or Canada, you won’t be accustomed to the immense sunlight in South Africa; even South Africans with fair skin burn in no time. There are three types of sunblock you can bring, and you should pack all of them.

Bring a bottle of high-SPF sunscreen that you apply before you head out and a spray-on sunscreen for touch-ups throughout the day. Also, bring sunscreen for your lips, as that is some of your most sensitive skin and will burn the fastest and easiest.

Mosquito Repellant

Summer is mosquito season in South Africa, and the little critters will drive you into madness if you don’t keep them away. If you are by a large water source or in the bush, a strong repellant is all you will need to keep them at bay.

Some areas, especially the Kruger National Park, do have malaria issues; therefore, you should get any injections you may need against it.

Lightweight Clothing

Don’t underestimate the heat of a South African Summer. The temperatures can rise into the low to mid-30s (Celsius) in some areas and the low 40s in the Northern part of the country. Therefore, lightweight and breathable clothing is a must.

The catch is that you can’t just pack vests or strappy tops; you will need something that can cover your skin and protect you against the sun too.


Cape Town and Durban are the go-to spots if you want to enjoy the beach; if you are heading to either of those cities, pack your swimming costume and beachwear. Remember, South Africa is very accommodating to tourists, and there will be tons of vendors and shops to buy swimming costumes, towels, umbrellas, and whatever else you may need.

Some South African beaches sometimes have a problem with Blue Bottles, a jellyfish-looking sea creature that often washes up on the beaches. These can cause a very painful sting when stepped on, so remember to bring swimming shoes or flip-flops with you too.

Warm Layers

While the heat during the day can make you sweat, summer evenings aren’t always that warm. Depending on the weather, if you are on the coast, there can be regular, cold breezes that will leave you feeling the chill.

While you won’t need more than a pair of pants and a jersey/jacket, don’t forget to put them in your bag when packing.

Everything Bag

If you are exploring the city or the bush, you will need a backpack or “everything bag.” Ensure that it is easy to carry and has space for all your essentials, but it also needs to be relatively difficult to break into.

While South Africa is an amazing country, there is still crime in the big cities, especially pickpocketing. Make sure your bag is secured on your person and has a lock or clip that makes it difficult to open quickly.

Walking Shoes
Cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg are best experienced through walking. Considering the public transport system in the country isn’t great, if you don’t have a car, you will spend a lot of time exploring on foot.

Bring a good pair of walking shoes that offer support, are comfortable to wear throughout the day, and are breathable.


There are a few accessories you should remember, too, such as a hat, sunglasses, and a travel wallet of some kind. The first two are self-explanatory, but the travel wallet is to ensure you always have a form of ID on you.

Once again, since South Africa does have a crime problem, you will want to have multiple copies of your passport and important papers on you, not just in your bags. Leave your originals in your hotel safe or wherever you are staying.

Bring Cash

Finally, it is important to remember to bring cash with you. While the majority of South African stores have card facilities, the thousands of small “shebeens” and vendors you come across sometimes only accept cash.

Once again, depending on where you are, you may not encounter this problem, but having some cash on you at all times will prevent most inconveniences when shopping, eating, or just buying a cold drink.

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