South Africa

Published on September 2nd, 2012


Catching Up Series: South Africa 2 of 12

ChurningButter-Mongolia375x500Finally out of the Mongoligan boonies and happily settled into the capital, Ulaanbaatar for a week. Oh so many adventures in the Gobi and horse/trekking in the wilds (no electricity, no running water!) of western Mongolia. Will surely take me wee… make that MONTHS to share it all. Meanwhile, I’m off to explore Ulaanbaatar, and leave you with another installment in the “CUS” series on my solo backpack ’round South Africa.

P.S.  Well… O.K. – before I go, leastwise I can drop a quick pic of me and a Mongolian lass churning yak butter:

The second installment in the “Catching Up: South Africa” series:  my solo backpack across South Africa and Mozambique in 2004.

Catching Up on…

South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho & Mozambique

(February 20, 2004)
Pecked from: Still shivering on that frozen cornfield.

Packing for 42 Days on the Lam…

With little more than a month til blast-off, I now turn my attention to just what “stuff” to bring along to ensure that I remain reasonably comfortable through 8 time zones and 42 days on the lam.


The whole kit ‘n kaboodle – for 42 days on the lam…

While I have always fully embraced the “Less is Best” school of packing, this particular trip poses a bit more of a challenge than my usual purely tropical adventures.

Oh no doubt the days at Kruger NP and the coast along the Indian Ocean will be plenty warm, but as South Africa is “down-under”, the seasons there are reversed from ours up here above the Equator. So while April/May is Springtime here – down there it will be Autumn and the nights may well be a tad chilly.

Especially so at Lesotho, the “Kingdom in the Sky” where the altitude of the entire kingdom exceeds 3,000 ft. and the Drakensberg peaks tower more than 9,000 feet above the surrounding Republic of South Africa. Furthermore, while I won’t be camping per se, I do hope to stay in some of the local Basotho huts which no doubt can get quite cold. All of which is to say – I best be prepared for most anything, so will need to tuck in everything from shorts to woolen long johns.

Thus, every blessed item listed below – no more, no less – is sure to come in handy as I meander from highveld to low. And best of all – it will all fit comfortably into my trusty 22″ x 13″ x 9″ carry-on convertible backpack (in deep purple of course, now what else would you expect?)


Air tickets
Credit card, drivers license, insurance card and travelers checks receipt
(plus 2 copies of all of the above, 1 set left at home with family, the
other tucked deep in my pack just in case…)
Travelers checks
Money belt
Sleeping bag (just 2 lbs. 5 oz!)
Emergency blanket
Camp cook set, scour pad, biodegradable soap
Digital camera (+ software CD, UBS cord and extra batteries)
Water-tight plastic pouch for camera
Water bottle
Flashlight headlamp (+ extra batteries)
Swiss Army knife
Rubber doorstop
Lock and cable for pack (a “gun lock” – more diminutive than a bicycle cable lock)
3 small locks for pack zippers
Duct tape
Travel alarm clock
Ear plugs
Plastic bag for “universal sink plug”
Wee clothesline and pins (for hanging laundry)
Southern Africa bird guide
Lonely Planet guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland
Travel journal
Reading novel (for plane)
Inflatable plane pillow
Travel cribbage board and cards
Pics of home, family, pets
Gifts for locals – stamps, balloons, fabric swatches
Small rucksack for daytripping
Space-saver zip-lock bags (they work great for turning bulky stuff into “freeze-dried”)
1 pr. long pants (khakis)
1 pr. capri pants
1 long skirt
1 pr. shorts
1 long sleeved white t-shirt (doubles as a beach sun coverup)
2 short sleeved t-shirts
1 sleeveless sun top
Bathing suit
Sun visor
Sleep pants
3 pr. socks (incl. 1 wool) + poly sock liner
3 pr. underpants
Camp towel (fast-drying viscose rayon, 10 times more absorbent than terrycloth)
Teva sandals
rubber shower flip-flops
Rain poncho (large enough to cover both me and the pack)
Silk long johns + thin wool turtleneck sweater
Fleece hat and gloves

Malaria pills (prescription)
Antibiotic (prescription)
Antihistamine (for insect bites)
Imodium med (for diarrhea)

Toothpaste, brush and floss
SPF for lips
Sun screen
Insect repellent
Nail file and clippers
small travel mirror

Th-th-that’s  it folks. An eclectic potpourri of widgets and whatnots to keep body and soul together for 6 weeks on the subcontinent. If there’s anything you think I’ve forgotten, do let me know. And likewise, if you can think of any way of lightening the load, do please tell.

Fast-forward 9 years:

LOL, clearly back then such sweet techno-gadgets like my dear “Kindle” were only in we travelers’ dreams. Imagine… being able to load HUNDREDS of books onto one small gadget (not to mention, enlarge the text, set bookmarks, and a built-in reading light to boot!)

Notice too, the “Swiss Army knife” – in those days one could board a plane with such trinkets in your carry-on.  Ditto the “Mace”, which even then was just plain silly – as you’ll soon see in the next installment when I finally came to my senses – what WAS I thinking???

“Travels checks” too would nowadays be pretty useless, but ATM weren’t nearly as plentiful ’round the globe, so they came in handy.

And finally, notice NO LAPTOP, nor netbook, nor even (my now beloved) iPod Touch! Geez, how DID we manage to travel the globe without instant access to facebook and twitter???

Check out all in the “Catching Up” South Africa series HERE


About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

2 Responses to Catching Up Series: South Africa 2 of 12

  1. TravelnLass says:

    @Four Letter Nerd – thanks for dropping by.

    About those clothespins… Firstly, understand that these “CUS” (Catching Up Series) posts are… this one more than 8 years old! So some of the items are now obsolete or technologically naive. Nonetheless, the wee clothespins – I do recall that back then I somehow acquired a handful of bitty plastic/wire clothespins. They may well have been toys/party favors or some such, I don’t recall where I got them – certainly not from Amazon/Sea Summit and such. 😉

    In any case, nowadays I have an even better “clothespin” solution. I tried the rubber twisted clothesline from Rick Steves but was sorely disappointed the moment I opened the package. Waaaaay too bulky/heavy for we backpackers.

    So instead, I took the twisted line notion a step further – streamlined it, and made it super small/lightweight: Simply double a length of black 1/2″ elastic. Tie loops at both ends (to attach to bedpost, doorknob, towel rack, or whatever. Tuck edge of clothes into the twists – no clothespins needed!

    And re: the sink plug/laundry dilemma. Honestly? Nowadays, I simply have the hostel/guesthouse do my laundry for a pittance. 😉

  2. Thanks for the tip on the cable gun lock. Didn’t know those existed. What do you use for ‘wee clothspins’? I use small Acco binder clips. Unbreakable and the handles fold. You mentioned ‘universal sink plug’. Every try ‘laundry in a sack’? A lightweight dry sack like Sea to Summit sells. The sack doubles as waterproof storage for electronics. Discussion on thorntree:

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