South African Elephants

What to pack

We encourage you to pack lightly. We will have to haul our own bags through airports or at least through customs, though we will, of course, have help with bags at hotels and on and off buses. You can get laundry done in our hotels and camps. We will dress casually, so no need for any dressy clothes. Don and I will be taking only carry-on suitcases and day packs.

IMPORTANT: We will be taking a small plane into our lodge at Kruger National Park and cannot take hard-sided or large or heavy bags with us. I will send you their baggage policy. We will have any larger bags transported to our lodge in Kruger by truck, but they will arrive the day after we arrive. For that flight, we will pack what we need in our daypacks in case our bags need to travel separately.

Please do NOT bring any expensive or flashy jewelry. These are very poor countries where expensive jewelry puts you and your possessions at risk.

Here is a suggested list of what to take:

  1. 1 pair casual, very comfortable, shoes for sightseeing--closed toes are essential
  2. Extra pair of shoes--can be sandals, but comfortable (surfaces are uneven)
  3. 3 pairs hiking pants or similar (I'll take 1 pair of zip-offs so I can use them for shorts in the unlikely chance I'll wear shorts)
  4. 2 pairs shorts if you wear them
  5. 3 casual short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
  6. 1 lightweight fleece jacket or pullover or sweater
  7. 1 warmer fleece jacket or sweater (I'll bring my highly packable down sweater)
  8. 1 warm, wind proof rain jacket
  9. 3-4 long-sleeved shirts (hiking shirts are great) for hiking, sightseeing in the sun or cooler evenings
  10. sleepwear
  11. small flashlight
  12. bathing suit
  13. sunglasses
  14. underwear and socks
  15. all your standard medications
  16. Imodium or similar in case you get a stomach bug (I take both over-the-counter and prescription strengths)
  17. standard toiletries (hotels and boat will have hair dryers)
  18. hand wipes and hand sanitizer
  19. sunscreen
  20. mosquito repellant
  21. several zip lock plastic bags
  22. sun hat for sightseeing
  23. camera with extra disk and batteries and battery charger
  24. adaptor kit (see below in electricity section for what plug adaptors you'll need)
  25. whatever you like to read (e-readers are best if you use them)
  26. small travel pillow (optional)
  27. copy of information page of passport
  28. 2 passport photos (just in case)
  29. phone and charger (check with your mobile provider about international packages)
  30. iPad or tablet if you use them for internet access
  31. spare pair of prescription glasses if you use them (optional)
  33. day pack


Safety is a concern in Johannesburg and some parts of Cape Town. We will not be in Johannesburg for long and will be traveling together. We will be staying on the waterfront in Cape Town, which is safe for walking. Practice common sense safety, such as not walking alone at night, avoiding flashy jewelry, keeping your money in a safe place, etc. We will be together most of the time, with a guide.

Please talk to your doctor or a travel clinic (we've found the travel clinics to be much more knowledgeable about international travel health needs) well before we depart for Southern Africa about vaccines and malaria medications.

Africa does not have clean water, so it's very easy to get sick. DO NOT drink the water or even brush your teeth in the water at the hotels or anywhere else. Use only bottled water. Eat only cooked vegetables and fruits or fruits you can peel. You need to be exceptionally careful about food. DO take prescription strength Imodium or Lomotil or similar in case you get a stomach bug.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends the usual vaccines for travel, such as Hepatitis A and B (which are always good to have). They also recommend a typhoid vaccination. This isn't essential as we will be staying in five star hotels, but is worth asking your doctor about.

note: We will need malaria medication in Zimbabwe and Kruger National Park. Please check with your doctor or a travel clinic about malaria prophylaxis while traveling on this trip.

Please read the Centers for Disease Control health pages and advice on travel to South Africa and Zimbabwe on the websites below. \


Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country, 1959
This is the classic novel about apartheid in South Africa. It is my favorite book about South Africa.

Isabella Morris, South Africa - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture, 2018
Culture guide to South Africa

Nelson Mandela,Long Walk to Freedom, 2000
Mandela's autobiography with lots of detail about the freedom movement

Nelson Mandela, Dare Not Linger: the Presidential Years, 2018
The second, previously unpublished, volume of his memoirs.

Martin Meredith, Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa,2008
The brutal history of the conflicts between Boers and British underlying the history of modern South Africa

Clifton Crais and Thomas V. McClendon, The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The World Readers),2013
Essays on South Africa's history, politics and culture

Charles Rivers, Editor, South Africa: The History and Legacy of the Nation from European Colonization to the End of the Apartheid Era, 2019
Looks at the controversial history of the country, from the initial European explorers to the successful struggle to dismantle apartheid.

Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography--The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa,1998
The classic story of life in apartheid South Africa

Adrian Greaves and Xolani Mkhize, The Zulus at War: The History, Rise, and Fall of the Tribe That Washed Its Spears,2014

Peter Magubane, Vanishing Cultures of South Africa,,1998
History, culture and organization of South Africa's native tribes

Alois S Mlambo, A History of Zimbabwe,2014
Textbook, but only comprehensive history of Zimbabwe from pre-colonial to post-colonial times.

Robert Mshengu Kavanagh,Zimbabwe: Challenging the stereotypes,2014
History of Zimbabwe from independence to 2014, challenging many Western stereotypes of the country and its government.

Howard Hensman,A History of Rhodesia,1973
Earliest history of the British colony of Rhodesia and Cecil Rhodes British South Africa Company, which controlled government and commerce

David Coltart, The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe, 2016
Author is one of Zimbabwe's most prominent human and political rights activist, a former Parliamentarian. About Mugabe's rule and the war of liberation

Candice Millard, Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill,2017
Story of Churchill's brazen escape from a Boer prison during the Boer War

Culture Tips

See these websites for information on culture and customs.

South Africa:



See these websites for information about electrical outlets and necessary adaptors:

South Africa:



Here are a couple of websites that will give you weather information for Southern Africa. I will also update you during the week before we leave.

South Africa:

Victoria Falls:

Kruger National Park:

Visas and Passports

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after our departure date from South Africa.

We will not need a visa for South Africa.

We will get a visa for both Zimbabwe and Zambia upon our arrival at Victoria Falls. This will cost $50 per person for the dual visa. It is only available at our port of entry. We will be walking across the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia the day we depart for Kruger, and will leave from the airport on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, so will need the dual visa.

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