Rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!
So I’ve had tons of mails from our students over the years, asking what to pack for the trip. There is a list on our website, but I thought I would make this my first post, since it’s kinda the most important thing on the mind of a first time visitor to South Africa. I will do another post on travel tips: flights, etc.
YOUR CARRY-ON BAG
- Always have at least 2 changes of clothing and strong boots/hiking shoes in your carry-on. There is a chance your luggage takes a nice trip to South Africa via 2 other countries you were not planning on visiting. So, unless you plan on wearing another participants undies, it would be best to have your own. We are always willing to help where we can, but a clothing shopping spree is not on the cards, we just don’t have the time. But we will wash and iron your clothing until your rogue luggage decides to join us. And the boots/hiking shoes are essential, because no person of sound mind will want to take on the African Bush in a pair of sandals.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, sunblock, face wash, shampoo & conditioner, body lotion and deodorant. If you do not have these in your carry-on you have obviously never lost your luggage. I wouldn’t go on an overnight without at least a 5kg bag of toiletries. You will be breaking a sweat on your time with us, and we don’t want to bear the brunt of that, thank you, but no!
- I hope I don’t have to mention your passport, but just in case! HAVE A VALID PASSPORT! I will address the visa issue in my “travel tips” blog.
- I have lived in South Africa all my life, and am raising my daughters here, on our farm, in Nelspruit. I have travelled to Mozambique and the far northern reaches of Kruger National Park. I have NEVER needed anti-malarials, neither have my kids, and none of us have taken them. I believe in a good anti-mosquito spray/roll-on. They work and don’t leave you fatigued and ill. I have seen MANY students on anti-malarials looking all the worse for wear, feeling very ill and missing out on amazing capture days. Just saying.
- I have, however, had tick-bite fever 6 times, and the last time I contracted German Measles at the same time. Such fun! So a good anti-tick spray is advisable. You won’t die from tick-bite, but it delivers nasty headaches and sensitivity to light. The good news is it takes 2 weeks for the fever to set in, so you will be able to book off a few days from Uni. The bites itch like hell too.
- You are welcome to bring your laptop/I-pad, and we have a safe for storage whilst you are out and about in the day, chasing after antelope/wildebeest/giraffe – you get the idea. But please be well warned, we take no responsibility if it goes missing. And, for the love of God, please don’t be THAT person who sits on their laptop at dinner when we are trying to socialise with you! Use your words! You can post your little hearts out when you get back home, but while you are with us, let’s get to know one another, who knows, we may even invite you back!
YOUR LUGGAGE BAG
- Again, a good pair of hiking boots are essential. But I don’t have to list this because they are already in your carry-on, right? A spare pair is a good idea. There will be a few relaxed days with us, when you visit Kruger National Park, and will NOT be facing treacherous South African bush veld. So a pair of flip-flops/sandals are a good idea.
- NO SHORT SHORTS!!!! Not only do we not want to see the uppermost innermost parts of your thighs, but neither do our clients. And remember the ticks!!! Our bushveld is also inclined to be rather thorny and scratchy!
- SUNBLOCK!!! Bring at least 2! Our sun has NO mercy, and you don’t want to return home looking like you should be checking into a home for the elderly. You only have one skin, love it, and it will love you back!
- A HAT!!!! For the same reason you need sunblock 😉
- You will NOT need: your own linen, towels or sleeping bag. If you do sleep away from the lodge during the trip, we provide everything you need.
- When packing your clothing for the trip, always plan to dress in layers. Our mornings can be rather chilly (around 41°F), and evenings too. But the days heat up tremendously, (around 89,6°F), so plan to add and subtract clothing throughout the day. Bring a rain jacket, not that it EVER rains here, (a huge problem in terms of water usage), but you never know. Also, don’t pack your “Sunday Best” outfits. The thorns in the veld WILL get at your clothing, they WILL get tatty, so don’t bring your favourite T! And remember, red is not the best colour for the bush, rather bring neutral colours that will blend in. Don’t stick out like a sore thumb in the bush.
- I will add this to the “travel tips” blog, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE wrap your bags!!! Unfortunately there are unsavoury persons at certain airports, that WILL rifle through your bags, and you may find a few missing items. Rather be safe than sorry!! And LABEL your bag very well. Also add my details, as your South African contact, on the tag so they can contact me if it goes missing.