Safari clothing in South Africa – Winter

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is what clothing should we pack. Given its coming up to our winter (May to August), lets look at winter packing for safari clothes…

See the full article on What to Wear on Safari in South Africa

I have lived in South Africa for 18 years and have noticed that South Africans, particularly those living in the bush, tend to ignore the fact that they have a winter. However our guests, used to wall to wall central heating, certainly feel it.

During winter, you will need to pack a range of safari clothing as the South African winter varies from province to province.

In the Cape, where the winters are most similar to Meditteranean Europe (think Spain or Italy) or Southern USA, the hotels and lodges are reasonably well-equipped with underfloor heating, fireplaces and electric blankets. However South African lodges do not have central heating and it’s fair to say that buildings are not generally heated to the same degree as in Europe or the US.

You might have some rain in the Cape so come prepared with a rainproof jacket

The rest of the country has dry winter with pleasant sunny days. It is not uncommon for the daytime temperatures to be 25°c which is very pleasant so bring some lightweight shirts and t-shirts as well.

However it’s the diurnal range in winter which usually flummoxes visitors. A South African can say that it’s 25°c during the day but not say that the day could have started at 5°c! In fact it’s the warm sunny days which produce the sudden downturn in temperatures in the evening as there is no cloud cover. If you are on safari in June, you will need to come fully prepared!

Safari clothing in South Africa – winter packing list

•    Warm jackets and sweaters for the start and end of the day
•    Lighter shirts, including short sleeves, and perhaps pedal pushers for the day
•    On safari – gloves, scarf, hat as well as warm jacket.
•    Many larger hotels have heated or ‘all-weather’ swimming pools so always bring swimgear. (‘All weather’ means that the pool is heated just enough to be bearable but would not be considered heated.)
•    Comfortable walking shoes
•    Long trousers for evening
•    Neutral colours if you intend to do a walking safari

Extra tip
I also throw in a hot water bottle (easily purchased at any chemist in South Africa) just in case your hotel bed does not have an electric blanket. These are also very handy for early morning game drives and alfresco Boma dinners (though many of the more switched-on game lodges now provide them)

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Kate Bergh is co-founder of Cedarberg African Travel, a specialist tour operator for Southern and East Africa.

She heads up the South African office, having lived in South Africa since 1993. Her home looks up to the Cedarberg Mountains, where she enjoys hiking and cycling, when she’s not out discovering new places to visit, with her three children in tow. Kate has travelled extensively throughout the region to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as most areas of South Africa. She also loves history, meeting people and a good thriller...

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