What type of Clothing to take on Safari

One of my lasting memories during my time working as a safari guide (field guide) is of meeting a particular guest at the entrance of the reserve, where I was to pick her up and take her into the African bush to the safari lodge. I could see her from a mile away, it was winter and she had a bright pink jacket on, to be fair it may have looked great on a night out in London, but here in the bush it made her stand out way too much.

Most people come with a far more sensible choice of safari clothing and equipment, but to be safe and if you are asking yourself ‘what to take on safari?’ below is my guide to the clothing and equipment you should pack for your safari adventure!

Safari Clothing: General Advice

The clothing that you should pack for safari will depend on a few things like what time of year it is and what type of safari holiday you are going on, but there are some general rules that you should follow:

Safari Wear Colours

Try not to have too bright clothing, this is fine for wearing around the lodge and to dinner in the evenings, but in general when you are going out on safari you want to blend in as much with nature as possible. So think of greens, browns and khaki coloured clothing.

It may be dusty where you are going, so also try and stay away from pale colours, and it is said that blue and black coloured clothing can attract tsetse flies, which have a painful bite. Black can also be way too hot to wear in the summer months.

No Camouflage Clothing for Safaris!
Do not wear camouflage clothing, I know that it is popular urban wear in the west, but here in Africa only the military wear it and in some African countries you can be arrested for it.

Safari Clothing Materials

Your clothing for safari should all be made from lightweight fabrics, that will not only keep the weight of your luggage down, but be comfortable as well. Many camping shops sell lightweight, neutral coloured clothing, but it is made from material is waterproof and that makes a noise as you rub against it. This is perfectly fine for camping in a wet environment, but if you are trying to sneak up to an antelope, the noise made by this clothing can often frighten them and other animals away. Cotton works the best for shirts and trousers and woolen jerseys if you are traveling in winter.

Safari Clothing for Women
Safari Clothing for Men
General Safari Clothing

Safari ShirtSafari Shirts for Men

I would pack short and long sleeve shirts all year round not so much for fashion, but styles for practicality. Long sleeves can be used for warmth if needed, but you can also wear them to protect from the sun and from biting insects, especially in the evenings.

A shirt like the one pictured on the right is perfect as you can roll up the long sleeves if it get a little hot. It also has plenty of pockets, perfect for storing your compact binoculars or camera.

A collar is also advisable as it will protect your neck from the harsh African sun.

The khaki colour is also ideal, but any similar neutral colour like green or brown will do.

More information and where to buy:

Buy Mens Safari Shirts


Womens Safari ShirtWomens Safari Shirts and Blouses

Just because you are going to spend your time in the bush does not mean you have to look like it! There is plenty of really fashionable safari clothing for women available. But just like the men, the common sense advice is pretty much the same:

Try and pack both long and short sleeve shirts, or choose a style where you you can roll up the long sleeves if it get a little hot.

Also try and pick a fabric that is light, cotton is great, but there are also plenty of modern materials that work just as well.

Khaki colour is also ideal, but any similar neutral colour like green or brown will do.

More information and where to buy:

Buy Womens Safari Shirts, Tops & Blouses


Safari TrousersMens Safari Trousers / Safari Pants

Long cotton trousers can really help protect you from the harsh African sun as well as prevent insects like mosquitoes from biting your legs in the evenings and early mornings.

Mens cargo pants and trousers like the ones pictured to the right make ideal safari pants as they have plenty of pockets for storing your compact camera or safari binoculars or even a compact field or african mammals guide book.

Combat pants and trousers can also be ideal, but remember not to wear camouflage as this is an offence in some African countries.

More information and where to buy:

Buy Mens Safari Pants & Trousers
Buy Mens Cargo Pants Ideal for Safaris 
Buy Mens Combat Pants for Safaris


Womens Safari DressWomen’s Safari Dress

An alternative to wearing trousers or shorts for women are the very fashionable safari dresses that are now available.

Most are designed in 100% cotton to provide coolness and comfort whilst you concentrate on spotting the wildlife around you.

As well as short sleeve versions you can also get sleeveless safari dresses that are elegant yet practical and offer the versatility of evening wear too.

The same advice applies when choosing colours, try and pick neutral earthy colours like greens, browns, beige and khakis.

More information and where to buy:

Buy Womens Safari Dresses


Womens Cargo TrousersWomen’s Safari Trousers

As with the men, trousers can really help protect you from the hot African sun as well as prevent insects like mosquitoes from biting your legs in the evenings and early mornings.

Womens Cargo Trousers

Womens cargo pants like the ones pictured to the right make ideal safari trousers as they have plenty of pockets for storing your compact camera, binoculars or even a bird or mammals guide.

Buy Womens Cargo Trousers

Womens Combat Trousers

Combat pants and trousers, less formal than cargo pants but still ideal, just remember not to wear camouflage as this may be an offence in some African countries.

Buy Womens Combat Trousers


Safari JacketSafari Jackets

Also known as a Bush Jacket, they are important to take on safari and not only in winter. Most game drives depart when the game is most active: at or before sunrise, or late afternoon and early evenings. It can get pretty chilly at this time, so pack a jacket. Just remember to try and make it neutral coloured and if possible made from a material that is warm and does not make too much noise during movement.

Something like the jacket pictured on the right would be perfect, neutral coloured, warm and made from a cotton material which will not make to much noise during movement. It also has plenty of pockets, perfect for storing those binoculars or digital camera that you will have with you.

Buy Mens Bush & Safari Jackets

 


Courteney Safari BootsSafari Footwear

I guess for general safari holidays where you will go on game drives, the most important thing is to be sensible, I don’t think you need to go out and buy specialised footwear. Remember you will be climbing in and out of safari vehicles and walking around the lodge which is in the bush, so high heels are not needed!

If you are going to be going on a walking safari, or at least going on a guided walk on your safari, it is advisable to have some sort of hiking boots or specialised safari boots that are both comfortable to walk in, but also covers your ankles. This is mainly for protection from small thorny bushes, but also is advisable to help protect you in the highly unlikely scenario of a snake or scorpion bite.

I have always used Courteney boots, exactly like the ones pictured above. Handmade boots designed specifically for the African bush. They are a small company from Zimbabwe, but have distributors all around the world. Because they are handmade from leather to the highest standards, they can be a little expensive, but if you are going to be walking allot in the bush and perhaps when you get back home, I would highly recommend them. Other than that look for a good quality pair of hiking boots which will also do the job.


Safari HatsSafari Hats

A wide brimmed hat to protect you from the sun is ideal, but any hat, including a cap is better than nothing.

I must confess that whilst I was guiding, I always used to use a cap, partly for fashion purposes I suppose as I never really feel comfortable in a hat. I did however as part of my uniform always have a shirt with a collar that protected my neck.

The peak of the cap or the brim of a hat will shield your eyes from glare, but even so on bright sunny days, you will probably want to also have a good pair of sunglasses.