Everyone who visits South Africa should go on a safari at Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in the world, with a huge variety of animals and an ever-changing landscape indigenous to Southern Africa.
Safaris here are the best way to spot the Big Five in their natural habitat, interacting naturally with each other and other animals. There are few places in the world where you’ll have that opportunity, and none that do it like Kruger.
If you’re planning a Kruger Safari there are a few things you’ll need to make it comfortable and easy. This post will guide you on what to pack for Kruger National Park and ensure that you are well prepared for one of the most incredible experiences of your life.
When setting off on a safari, people tend to focus a lot more on the dangers of lions than mosquitoes. But as your guide will tell you, there’s no real threat from lions if you’re respectful of their space and pay attention to what your guide tells you. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are very likely to bite.
No one wants to spend their safari scratching at angry red itches. At best, you’ll have itchy mosquito bites. At worst, you’ll contract malaria, as Kruger is a high-risk area for malaria from October to May, and mosquitoes are one of the main carriers of the disease.
Bring strong insect repellent, along with malaria pills, and you won’t have to worry about these pesky little creatures. These pills are safari essentials.
There is so much to see at Kruger National Park, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t bring your camera along - it’s the most important component of your safari equipment. Yes, you can use your smartphone but a long-angle lens will be better. It is also a great alternative to binoculars, so that you can see animals that are far away as if they are close up.
Take photos of the amazing animals and the unique wilderness, and get a few shots of yourself and your group there too. Your guide (if you have one) will be happy to take a photo or two so that you can all share the memory together.
You may get so carried away taking beautiful photographs of all the animals that you can rapidly run out of memory space. Bring a spare card if you can, so that you don’t have to sit for hours on your safari, unable to capture the special moments.
Unless you’re embarking on a walking safari, the likelihood of getting hurt is relatively low. Still, a basic first aid kit is a very good idea. Any scrapes, cuts and bruises can be easily taken care of without having to wait till the end of the safari while you suffer in pain.
Wondering what personal items to pack for an African safari? This may seem like an obvious one, but you can never have too many reminders. The South African sun, even in winter, is very strong. And while your trip will be in a covered vehicle, it is still open to the elements, and sun rays bounce.
If you’re enjoying a multi-day safari, you’re sure to go home with a sunburn if you don’t lather up. So stay safe, and bring a wide-brimmed sun hat, high-SPF sunscreen and sunglasses. You won’t sit there regretting that you brought them, but you’ll regret it if you don’t.
Those planning an international trip to Kruger should be particularly careful, as they may not be used to the strong African sun.
While on downtime, it's great to fully immerse yourself in your safari by reading books about safaris. Here are some must-read books for safari lovers that I've enjoyed.
A logbook / journal may be a little old-school, but it’s a super fun way to document your adventure. You can do it digitally, logging the animals you spot on your phone with a photo of each one. Or, more interestingly, you can buy a proper paperback logbook, and do it the very old-fashioned way.
This is a great activity for the kids as well, and a good way to keep them occupied when looking out for animals just doesn’t cut it. You can even find logbooks made especially for kids, with extra interactive details and fun additions.
When driving through the bushveld of Kruger, you may not always be able to get as close to the animals as you’d like. A respectful distance is important, and vehicles can’t go off track, where they would damage important vegetation or disturb and threaten smaller creatures. Because of this, binoculars are an incredibly helpful addition to your Kruger safari gear list.
Buy some good second-hand binoculars, or dig up your old pair in the garage. If you’re not an avid safari-goer, buying a brand new pair may not feel like it’s worth the money. That’s why if there are old binoculars lying around in good condition, it will suffice.
No matter how hot you think the weather is, it can get chilly on game drives. This is something you should always expect on safari. Bring a jacket, a jersey or a windbreaker - classic safari clothing - that you can pull out of your bag if it gets cold. You can find super-light ones that compact into a very small space, if you’re trying to pack light. During the South African winters, you will need something warmer though.
Since you’ll spend most of your time in the safari vehicle, proper hiking boots are not necessary. However, you’ll want footwear that’s comfortable and can be worn for many hours at a time.
So, pack your comfiest sneakers and a few breathable pairs of socks. You will want your feet to be able to breathe, as the days get very hot, and your feet are where you keep a lot of your heat.
This safari gear is necessary both for the cold and the mosquitos. One of the best ways to keep yourself safe from bug bites is by covering your skin. Pack light, breathable long-sleeved tops, and comfortable long pants. These will also serve you well in the evenings, when the weather cools down.
It’s always nice to have something to snack on when you’re spending a few hours on the trails. Go for these traditional South African snacks, and you’ll see why they’re so well suited to this environment. A pack of dried fruit and biltong will satisfy cravings for sweet and salty, without making you feel heavy.
In the dusty heat of Kruger, you may find your eyes smarting after a few hours. They grow weary in the heat, particularly when you’re keeping them on the lookout for animals.
Bringing a small bottle of eye drops is a great way to bring relief on the go. Just add a drop or two into each eye, and you’ll be able to spend hours outside, getting as much as you can from your Kruger safari.
Packing for safari is always fun, because you’re so excited about what’s coming. And it should be - you should have a great time just getting ready for such an adventure. Be sure to tick off this list of things to bring on your safari, so that you can enjoy it to the fullest, without regretting the little things. If you’re not 100% inspired to visit South Africa for a Kruger safari yet, check out these 30 photos of South Africa for some more inspiration on what you can do in this beautiful country.
Now you know just what to pack for a safari in Kruger National Park! If you've been on safari already, is there anything else that you would add to your safari packing list ?
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