Whether you’re heading into Big 5 territory, or whether you’re opting for a blissful bush break at a lodge like Cypiro Leopard Lodge, packing is essentially the start of your trip. I love packing for a trip – it comes with so much excitement and even a hint of creativity if you’re like me. I always try to see how far I can come with as little as possible, but then I end up adding a pair of bushveld-inspired earrings here and a pair of Veldskoen vellies there… you know – it’s the fashionista in you that causes your travel bags to bulge when considering what to pack.
But, for my latest trip, I tried to pack as light and practical as possible, as I was travelling with a colleague. Plus, while the Jaguar I-Pace we went in is an incredibly quiet and a rather sophisticated drive and we enjoyed testing its fancy EV functions and limits, it’s boot was definitely not made for a collection of bulky bags.
I’ve been to the bush many times, mostly to places where the Big 5 roam. So, Cypiro Leopard Lodge was a different take on the bush experience and what to pack for me, as they don’t have the Big 5 and once you’ve familiarised yourself with the environment, you can explore on foot and submerge yourself in nature. It was pure bliss!
Packing for this trip evidently was a little different, as they don’t offer 5AM wake-up calls and game drives on their property, nor do they offer 3PM high teas in a lounge, followed by sunset game drives. Instead, you can sleep in, linger around the lounge, take a dip in the pool, move over to the KolKol wood-fired hot tub, return for a nap on the deck, explore one of the hiking trails, watch some birds, and then head down to the bush bar for sundowners as you watch the plains game gather for bushveld chats. It’s something else, I tell you. It’s a bush break for book lovers and birders; not for lion stalkers or elephant trackers.
Packing for a blissful bush experience like the one at Cypiro Leopard Lodge is pretty straightforward, but there are certain things you can’t go without:
Pants and pumps with purpose
In the bush, the lighter the pants, the better. That goes for both colour and comfort. The lighter the colour, the cooler it will be. The lighter the fit, the more comfortable. These super comfy, 100% cotton pants always come in handy when I am in the bush as they allow airflow on warm days, they look pretty and the more they crease (as they do) the more you feel as if you’re on holiday! I bought this specific pair at Mr Price recently. I love cotton clothes as they are natural, breathable, they transmit moisture away from the body, they’re comfortable and durable. Plus, since cotton is a plant-based fiber, it is ultimately the more sustainable option to wear.
Other pants with purpose would be some comfortable leggings to hike with. These cotton-rich leggings are locally and purposefully made and you will most probably want to wear them all day.
Also don’t forget comfortable flat shoes and shoes for short bush walks. I got these versatile tan slide sandals from Woolworths not too long ago and they came in real handy for moving around the self-catering unit and even beside the pool. My Veldskoen vellies worked wonderfully for the shorter bush walks.
Collared cotton shirt
I always pack a collared cotton shirt when travelling to the bush and this is for two main reasons. The first reason is for the exact same reason as the above: It’s breathable and comfortable and it’s good for the environment.
P.S. Did you know that clothes shed? When wearing cotton and your clothes shed, at least you know that you’re not leaving any microplastics behind, but rather eco-friendly, renewable microfibers.
The second reason to pack a collared cotton shirt is that the collar helps to protect your neck and when that cool, late afternoon breeze comes creeping up from behind, the longer sleeves and the collar help to break the bite. As an additional bonus, it’s one of those classics that will most probably always be in fashion.
Scarf up when considering what to pack
There is no reason for you to suit up for the bush, but it might be a good idea to scarf up. As mentioned, the late afternoon, early evening breeze can often surprise you, or when those majestic thunder clouds come rolling in, you’d want to have something extra to throw over your shoulders.
A scarf is also very versatile in the bush and you can use it for many things. (See, that’s where the creative fashionista in me comes out). I’ve used scarves as headbands, as actual scarves, as sarongs and even as belts to add to a blissful bush experience.
That said, also don’t forget your swimsuit! You’ll rarely find a bushveld destination without a swimming pool.
Cypiro Leopard Lodge offers their guests the opportunity to book a game drive (or you can do a self-drive) at the Marakele National Park across the road. This park, which is home to the largest breeding colony of Cape Vultures, can also come with cooler evenings, and even though a bulky jacket won’t be necessary in summer, taking a scarf with comes recommended. While the summers here are often very warm, nature tends to surprise you when you least expect it and a late afternoon thunderstorm is nothing out of the ordinary between these Thabazimbi hills.
What to pack to be blissfully beautiful in the bush
If nature can flaunt its various facets with beautiful morning light, golden sunsets, starry nights and a bold moon that offers light ample enough for Cypiro’s popular night walks, so can you.
While there are no fancy high teas or romantic riverside dinners to dress up for, you can still do so in the comfort of your own self-catering unit.
Bring a set of wide leg pants and a dainty top like this one from Zara. Add a dash of gold in the form of earrings or a simple necklace and celebrate life and nature with a glass of bubbly on The View, or one of Cypiro’s stunning The Elements pods’ decks.
Like I always say: There’s always reason to celebrate; there’s always reason to look great! Even in the bush. I mean, when even the interiors at Cypiro Leopard Lodge look great, why can’t you?
Accessorise and accentuate
Sunglasses, a hat and SPF are non-negotiable accessories in the bush. The South African sun is harsh and so much more so in the bush. Max Mara has been my sunglass go-to for the last couple of years, with great new options to choose from. Of course, this time of the year is also the perfect time to splurge on that perfect pair of sunglasses for Christmas. Luxottica’s list of options is endless and you’re sure to look on trend with one of their spectacular pieces. Tip: Pick a classic option that will stay in fashion for many years to come.
When it comes to hats, get one that protects your skin against UV rays, but still looks fashionable. Emthunzini Hats is always a safe bet, with hats that are CANSA approved and beach safe. Even Babylonstoren’s online shop has some pretty cool hat options to choose from, as well as the slow fashion brand, Freya Hats, which sells hats for young and old – all CANSA approved and stunning.
Finally, your SPF needs to be on you all the time when you’re in the bush. I’ve come to love tinted SPFs as they allow you to still cover most of those hyperpigmentation spots. Here is a list of some of my favourites, which will all accentuate your beautiful, natural features for the perfect no-effort look on your blissful bush break.
For those who want to really look the part when on a bush break, be sure to also bring your binoculars and your camera. Also, don’t forget your book and be sure to download the birding app. Finally, sit back and enjoy the different kind of stillness one can only find in the African bush.
Image Credits: My Lime Boots; Renate Engelbrecht
*Accommodation at Cypiro Leopard Lodge and transport with the Jaguar I-Pace was sponsored.