Packing For South Africa
Coming prepared is always essential. Worried about what to pack? Don't stress, as we have covered a lot of what we think you may need for a visit to beautiful Southern Africa. Items include, but are not limited to:
Technology & Comfort
- Power adapter and converter
- Camera (charger & memory cards)
- Cell phone (including charger)
- Neck Pillow
- Books, journals, and pens
- iPods and headphones
Health & Hygiene
- Medications and prescriptions
- Collapsible water bottle
- Insect repellant
- Hand sanitizer
- Headlamp (or lightweight flashlight)
Misc. Travel Needs
- Ziplock bags
- Lock for checked luggage
- Collapsible duffel for return flight
Clothing For South Africa
Your Season of travel will make a slight difference in what you should pack. We have broken this down for you.
June - October (Winter to early Spring):
- Skirts (longer)
- Dresses (longer)
- Lightweight pants
- Jacket (light to mid weight)
- Layerable tops (cool mornings and evenings)
November - May (late spring to late fall):
- Lightweight pants
Clothing For All Seasons:
- Cotton Tshirts
- Light jacket or sweater
- Comfortable shoes
- Wrap or sarong
Packing for internal flights in South Africa
Everything you need to know about baggage requirements on local South African airlines.
Maximum Weight per Piece and Passenger (Weight Concept):
Please note more than 32kg per piece is not accepted as excess baggage. If exceeding 32kg, the piece must be checked in as air cargo at specified air cargo rates.
Free Baggage Allowance Weight Concept
- Adult 20kg
- Child 20kg
- Infant 10kg
In the case of two infants traveling with one adult, the second infant pays a child fare, therefore allowing the second infant 20kg baggage allowance.
Infants not entitled to a seat shall be permitted 10kg and one collapsible stroller.
In addition to checked baggage allowance, each passenger may carry, without additional charges, one piece of hand luggage for suitable placement on the sky check trolley (subject to space availability). Maximum dimensions for one piece - 52 X 40 X 23 cm, maximum weight - 7kg. The size of one hand luggage shall not exceed the overall dimensions of 115cm.
In addition to one piece of hand luggage, a passenger is also allowed carry on luggage.
The following are classified as carry on luggage:
- Handbag, pocket book or purse
- Overcoat, wrap or blanket
- Umbrella or walking stick
- Small camera and or binoculars
- Reading matter for flight
- Infant food for consumption during the flight
- Infant carry basket/carry cot
- For Disabled passengers, if needed during the journey (will be carried free of charge even if it is carried in the aircraft hold):
- 1 wheelchair (only in the aircraft hold)
- 1 pair of crutches or braces
- 1 small dialysis equipment. For self use of the passenger (only in aircraft hold)
- 1 other orthopedic device
- Braces or prosthetic devices (provided passenger is dependant on them)
- Portable PC (not to be activated without permission from crew)
- Mobile phone (not to be used during flight)
- Mobile phones are not permitted to be on flight mode.
Power in South Africa
You're not in Kansas anymore.
South Africa uses 230 volt power. If you have any items you are bringing from home that cannot handle this voltage, you will need a power converter to keep from killing your electronic equipment. These can be found online.
South Africa uses specific 3 prong outlets. You will definitely need a power adapter for any electronics. This will not come in most "kits" you will find online. The adapter we recommend is this one.
Many newer mobile phones, as well as battery chargers, will automatically step down power. Please check your phone/charger specs to see if this is the case for your specific items. If they do, then you will only need a power adapter. Otherwise, you will need BOTH a power adapter and a power converter.
How it works for items requiring 110/120 volt input:
Your item --> into Power converter --> into Power adapter --> into Outlet
How it works for items that can take 230 volt input:
Your item --> into Power adapter --> into Outlet
Passports and Visa
For U.S. Citizens visiting for 90 days or less, a valid passport is all you currently need in South Africa. We recommend your passport be up-to-date and not expiring within 6 months of your scheduled trip.
If you are traveling to South Africa as a citizen of another foreign country, please see this list to see if you are exempt from requiring a visa.
If traveling with minor children, please see this link for more information.
Currency and Credit Cards
South African currency is the South African Rand (ZAR).
ATMs are readily available and can be utilized to get cash.
Credit cards are accepted at most establishments (Visa/MC more so than AmEx).
PLEASE CALL your card providers and tell them when and where you will be traveling.
Cash is recommended for tipping and purchases at small village markets or roadside stands.
We often get asked about tipping practices in Southern Africa. South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and parts of Mozambique all accept South African Rands (ZAR) as tips. Zimbabwe, who no longer have a local currency, accept US$, Botswana Pula, and ZAR. Botswana Pula is preferred in Botswana, though other currencies are also accepted.
How To Tip:
Tipping is not compulsory, and the amounts that you tip each person is also not set. However, please remember that when tipping larger amounts (e.g. to your guide at the end of a multi-day safari), to place the tip in a sealed envelope, and hand it directly to the person for which it is intended. Some people may feel embarrassed by the whole tipping procedure. Please know that tipping is entirely customary in the tourism industry in Africa, and brings with it no embarrassment.
Who To Tip:
In Africa, we tip for good service by porters, transfer/taxi drivers, petrol attendants, wait staff, hotel/lodge staff, guides, and trackers. While some countries differ on tipping etiquette, in general Southern African tipping is relatively generic. Some hotels/restaurants/safaris include a service charge in the overall bill, so ask about this at each establishment.
- Wait Staff / Service Staff / Transfer Drivers ~ 10% (when at restaurants, check ticket to make sure gratuities have not already been added, particularly with large tables)
- Day-Guides ~ R100-200 per person for full day / R50-100 per person for half day
Malaria is low risk in South Africa. However, as you will be visiting rural game reserves, we do recommend discussing this with your physician to decide if Malaria medication makes sense for you.
If you are interested in getting a local sim card for your phone, we have had great luck with this website:
Here you can pre-order your sim card and pick it up at the airport when you arrive. Pickup can be set for OR Tambo International Airport and is right outside baggage claim (to the right in the Vodacom shop).
If wanting to stay connected back home, we recommend downloading the app WhatsApp on your phone. WhatsApp allows you to text, call, and video chat all in one app using wifi (or using data if you have a local sim card). Please Note: You must have your friends/family/colleagues download the app on their devices as well, as this service works within the app.