The wildlife volunteer’s ultimate winter packing list

Even though South Africa is really hot…don’t let it fool you!

As conservation volunteers at Ithala Game Reserve, our experience has proved to us that it is possible for ice to occur in the South African bush!
We leave the house around 6:00am and therefore have to deal with things like frozen seats, frozen cameras, frozen elephant poo and even frozen sun cream!

Our transport around the reserve is an open top vehicle, so it seems to get increasingly colder and windier when driving around…as there is no heating. Therefore it is important to prepare for this on any reserve that you find yourself on.

Frosty seats Ithala

The frosty seats of the Ithala monitoring vehicle

Also, bare this in mind when inside the house. A hot water bottle may be needed at night and dress yourself in layers before you go to bed.

It may seem very unusual so here is a packing list for a typical winter’s day in the African bush…

1. T shirts/ tops
2. Long sleeved shirts
3. Jumper/ Jersey
4. Fleece
5. Rain jacket/ wind breaker
6. Leggings (under trousers)
7. Trousers (hiking)
8. Scarf, hat, gloves and ski mask
9. Skiing underwear
10. Socks (skiing/hiking)
11. Sunglasses, sun cream and lip balm
12. Walking boots/ hiking shoes
13. Hot water bottle
14. Towel (for frozen seats)
15. Tissues

Remember that although it can get as cold as 8°C/46°F at night the days can be 21°C/70°F, so you should dress in layers. However, with these essential items you can survive any winter’s day in the African bush.

Ithala volunteers

The Ithala volunteers having an early braai before it’s too cold to be outside.

After all this is Zululand, not Disneyland!

Written by Charlotte Moore, Eileen Rintsch, Bettina Paar, Coral Castillo and Ninochka Navedo