Regardless of your planned activities, here are six things to put at the top of your South Africa packing list.
1. Yellow Fever vaccination certification.
Yellow Fever vaccination is required for entry to South Africa if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever, and a valid certificate must accompany travelers who do. This includes travelers who have been in an airport located in a country with risk of yellow fever. Schedule your vaccination as far in advance of your travel dates as possible, and verify that you have received, reviewed and packed your Yellow Fever certificate in your carry-on luggage.
2. DEET or Permethrin insect repellent.
Among the natural beauty and incredible wildlife that South Africa has to offer are insects and mosquitos that can cause serious and sometimes debilitating illnesses. Many Permethrin-containing repellents are durable enough to last through up to 10 machine washes, so it’s simple to spray and air dry all your clothing before packing to ensure you’re never unprotected.
3. Mosquito nets.
Regardless of your accommodations or the city of your stay, make sure you pack a Permethrin-treated mosquito net. Mosquito-borne illnesses that are uncommon in the United States are common threats to travelers visiting South Africa and include Malaria, Dengue Fever and West Nile Virus. Symptoms of these diseases can be life-threatening if left untreated, and can occur quickly after becoming infected.
4. Comfortable, but neat and appropriate clothing.
Pride in the quality of dress is standard in countries across the entire African continent, and South Africa is no exception. Whether planning a city stay or a safari exploration, be sure to pack clothing that is free of tears, holes and stains.
5. Quick-drying clothing.
Since you’ll likely be hand-washing all your clothing, it’s important to pack quick-drying options that are light-weight and resistant to wrinkles. Cotton does not dry quickly, so pack versatile pieces made from synthetic fabrics whenever possible.
6. Sunblock, sunglasses and protective headwear.
The South African sun can be unwelcoming, unfriendly and, at times, brutal — on any type of skin. Make sure you pack high-SPF sunscreens, sunglasses that guard against UV rays, and hats and/or head wraps that protect your scalp and ears.