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South Africa Terrestrial/Marine Research Assistant Kit List

South Africa

General Items

Main bag – You will need a rucksack or holdall, 50 litre minimum capacity. You don’t need to carry your bag too far on the project, so a rucksack is not essential although is recommended.

Day bag/small rucksack – Needed for your field work for carrying water, paper, pens, binoculars, cameras etc.

Roll mat or thermarest – Necessary for both warmth and comfort at the marine site. Roll mats can be purchased cheaply, whereas Thermarests are more of an investment (be sure to buy a repair kit).

Sleeping bag/sleeping sheet – A three-season sleeping bag is recommended as it can get down to around 0-5 degrees at night time.

Water bottle/platypus – A combination of leak-proof plastic bottles (total capacity 3 litres) is imperative. The ‘hydration systems’ on the market (Platypus, camelback, Ortileb) have the advantage of packing flat when not in use.

Head torch – Only needed for moving around the camp at night so particularly high-strength torches are not required. Don’t forget spare batteries though!

Waterproof jacket – The chance of rain is very slim, but a lightweight waterproof or poncho is necessary just in case.

Watch with alarm – It doesn’t have to be anything technical. A travel alarm clock will also do.

Biodegradable soap/shampoo – To minimise impact on the environment we ask all volunteers to bring ‘green’ detergents, most of which are multi-use.

Insect repellent – The mosquito count is generally fairly low during the expeditions as it is winter in South Africa. However, it is still recommended that you bring a natural insect repellent to use in the evenings. Many of our staff use Mosi-guard, which can be bought from Amazon.

Sunblock – Factor 30, minimum, is recommended as the winter sun can still be very strong and you will potentially be outside in sunlight all day. Please ensure it is a coral friendly sunblock if you intend to use it in the water.

Sanitary pads/tampons – Please bring a supply even if you do not expect to use them.

Travel towel/sarong – Don’t bring a big thick towel as it won’t dry quickly enough.

Binoculars – These are really essential to see much of the wildlife in the bush. 8 X 40 are the best to bring.

Camera – You will have lots of opportunities to take pictures but be aware the animals will often be at a distance so a camera with a decent zoom is recommended.


For the working in the field at your terrestrial site it is vital you wear neutral and natural-coloured clothing (khaki, beige etc). This is for safety reasons, as it’s important that you blend in as much as possible with the colours naturally found in the bush (dull greens, browns, dark beige etc).  We will not let anyone out into the field with brightly coloured clothes on. Since black and white are not natural colours in these environments, it’s best to avoid these wherever possible. However, we understand many people may already own black items, so a small amount of black – for instance, a black backpack with the rest of the clothes being neutral – is acceptable.

Don’t forget you can also buy your Opwall t-shirt from here!

Hiking boots – Should be comfortable, with firm ankle support and good grip.
Flip flops/sandals – 1 pair
Lightweight long trousers – 1-2 pairs
Warm trousers/combats – 1-2 pairs
Shorts – 2 pairs
T-shirts – 5
Long sleeved shirt – 2
Fleece/hoodie/jumper/sweatshirt – 1-2
Coat or jacket – 1
Thermal underwear – 1 pair
Warm hat – 1
Woollen gloves – 1
Hat with brim – 1
Swim suit/bikini/board shorts – 1
Socks – Enough for 1 week.
Underwear – Enough for 2 weeks.
Sunglasses – A good pair will be useful at both sites.
Nightwear/Pyjamas – You will be in shared accommodation!

Marine-specific equipment

PADI Crew Pack: If you’re undertaking dive training on your expedition you will see that we have also added Dive Training Materials to your internal travel invoice (if on an RA or Dissertation program) or final balance invoice (if on a school program) – this is the pack needed by anyone learning to SCUBA dive with us. In the past we have asked students to buy these independently, which takes time and effort, and so we are now arranging this on your behalf. You will be emailed with electronic access to your dive training materials closer to your expedition start date.

Proof of dive qualification – If you are already a qualified diver, we will require proof of your dive qualifications on site. We do accept non-PADI qualifications, as long as it is equivalent to or more advanced than PADI Open Water.

Essential Dive equipment 

All the equipment listed below is essential for diving projects. You can bring your own or hire onsite (with the exception of the wetsuit). For hire costs check the “costs to consider” section of the expedition description.

Buoyancy Control Device
Mask and snorkel
Wetsuit – A minimum 5 mm full-length wetsuit is essential as the waters are cold. We strongly recommend buying one and bringing it out if at all possible, but in extenuating circumstances they can be rented on site. This must be organised and paid for before the expedition.

Non-essential dive equipment

Dive watch/computer or waterproof watch – A timing device is a requirement under PADI regulations for qualified divers. You can buy a simple Casio W800 watch waterproof to 100m (not that you will be going any deeper than 18 metres – however they are more reliable) for approximately £15 on Amazon.

Medical kit

Although every expedition will have its own medical supplies you MUST carry your own personal medical kit.

Antihistamine tablets
Antihistamine/hydrocortisone cream
Rehydration salts
Plasters/band aids
Alcohol wipes
Sea/travel sickness tablets
Prescribed medications and antimalarials – It is vital that you bring any medications that you need to take regularly, including malarial prophylaxis (if prescribed by your doctor/travel nurse).

Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
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