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South Africa Terrestrial 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.

Waterproof plastic/zip lock bags – These are very useful to keep the water out of your kit and clothes. You can line your rucksack with a bin/garbage bag and have smaller bags for clothes and items like your camera.

Sleeping bag/sleeping sheet – A three-season sleeping bag is recommended as it often drops below around 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 – Rain is common at this time of year for this site, so a decent waterproof (preferably windproof as well) is essential.

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 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.

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.
Trainers/lightweight shoes – An alternative, comfortable pair of shoes for the cold evenings.
Lightweight long trousers – 1-2 pairs
Warm trousers/combats – 1-2 pairs
T-shirts – 5
Long sleeved shirt – 2
Fleece/hoodie/jumper/sweatshirt – 2-3
Coat or jacket – 1
Thermal underwear – 1 pair
Warm hat – 1
Woollen gloves – 1
Scarf – 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!


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
| +44 (0) 1790 763194 | info@opwall.com