While you may want to look stylish, it's equally important that you have functional and protective safari clothing for your great outdoor adventure. For this reason, we're giving the ultimate guide on what to wear on an African safari, including the best options for styles, colors, and fabrics.
What to Wear on an African Safari?
When going on African safaris, you need to wear sleeved shirts, well-fitting trousers, jackets for layering, sleepwear, swimsuit, and dinner clothes. You also need to bring closed-toe shoes, quick-drying socks, and flip flops. You may also wear functional yet fashionable safari outfit accessories such as wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, binoculars, and scarves.
With this safari clothing list, you'll feel comfortable, protected, and stylish for the African bush. We hope this can serve as your safari wardrobe guide as you plan your next adventure.
Safari Clothing Packing List
What you wear on a safari will protect your body from the safari environment while ensuring you don't overpack. This is the ultimate list of what you need to pack and wear to maximize your African safari experience.
Short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts will serve as the base layer for your safari wardrobe. Moisture-wicking shirts and breathable sweaters are among the best safari clothes. It's vital that you keep your skin covered to protect you against the African sun, wind, and insect bites.
You can wear shorts if you're staying at the camp. However, trousers or safari pants are the basics of a good safari outfit, especially during game drives and safari walks, because you'll need to protect your legs from the bushes.
Comfort is the key when you have to walk around or jump in and out of safari vehicles. Denim jeans and tight-fitting pants would be uncomfortable for African safaris.
For safari clothing, you need at least two to three pairs of trousers that won't make your legs itchy or uncomfortable from hours of sitting or walking. Other options are convertible pants, wherein you can remove the lower part of the fabric when you feel hot.
Africa has four climate zones: desert, semi-desert, grasslands, and tropical forests. This means the weather may range from hot desert, tropical wet-and-dry, and humid uplands. Your safari outfit must be something you can quickly modify depending on the weather.
Jackets are the ultimate layering garments for safari outfits, whether you're sitting on a safari vehicle or lounging at the campsite. The kind of jacket you need may depend on the time of year you visit Africa.
Fleece jacket: Fleece jackets have a great ability to wick away perspiration, making them good layering pieces for a safari outfit. These can also keep you warm and snug through African winter.
Warm jacket: An insulated, water-resistant jacket is suitable for lightweight packing. It also offers good wind protection for different environments.
Hard shell and rain gear: If you're going to visit African safaris during the wet season, you'll need to add rain gear for extra protection. Opt for synthetic jackets or ponchos made of nylon to cover your body quickly during a downpour.
Invest in quick-drying underwear, especially since you may get wet from sudden downpours or as you cross rivers. For women, it's also helpful to bring high-impact sports bras for bouncy African safari drives.
Closed-Toe Shoes and Socks
Safari grounds can be uneven or thorny, so you must protect your feet by wearing comfortable closed-toe shoes such as waterproof, hiking, or easy-off ankle boots. Pair your boots with moisture-wicking socks made out of merino wool.
Trail shoes can also prevent your feet from feeling sore during bush walks. If you feel uncomfortable wearing boots, make sure that your sneakers have a good grip for walking safaris.
As a bonus, you can wear gaiters or sock protectors to stop sand and stones from entering your boots. You may also bring sandals for showering or swimming at the pool or beach.
Wide-Brimmed Hat or Sun Hat
You will be out in the sun for most of your stay on the safari, so a trusty wide-brimmed hat or a sun hat should complement your safari outfit.
Wearing a sun visor isn't a good idea when sitting on an open safari vehicle, especially if you have a bald head or thinning hair.
A full brim is much better than typical sports caps because you must protect your face and the back of the neck to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Sunglasses and Binoculars
Sunglasses and binoculars make an excellent pair for shielding your eyes from the strong sunshine and dust. These will also give you a close-up view of the wildlife while adding some accent to your African safari outfit.
A scarf brings extra warmth during chill days while also providing cover against dust storms and insects in the African bush. A lighter silk scarf is perfect for wearing around the neck during the day, whereas heavier blanket scarves can cover your shoulders for colder temperatures.
The safari clothing rule of thumb is that sleepwear should keep you comfortable and warm during chilly nights. Your sleepwear choices must also depend on the temperature and type of lodging. Although, in general, you can switch to yoga pants and a regular shirt for sleeping.
You can also pack some swimwear if your lodging has a swimming pool. Women can wear a two-piece swimsuit, while men may use swimming trunks. If you want more skin coverage, opt for a rashguard instead.
Don't forget evening wear on your safari clothing packing list. You can switch to more relaxing clothes at safari lodges for dinner. Men can change to regular, long pants and a dress shirt, while women can pair a dress with a poncho.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Safari Clothing
When deciding what to wear for your safari trip, you'll need to find a balance between comfort and style. As you search for the best safari clothing, these factors will help you prepare functional yet aesthetic clothes.
Choose Cooling Fabrics
Your safari clothes must keep your body feeling fresh and cool, especially during the sizzling hot midday and early afternoon. The body will keep you cool through perspiration. This is why you'll need safari outfit fabrics that can evaporate sweat quickly.
Natural fabrics such as cotton are fine to wear on a safari trip. However, man-made fabrics like polyamide or polyester will keep you cooler and better protected from the sun.
Polyamide and polyester clothes dry faster than cotton, which is perfect if you become drenched in heavy rain or river water. Cotton retains 8.5% moisture when wet, whereas polyester only keeps 0.4%. Additionally, man-made fabrics release creases much faster than cotton, so you won't have to worry about ironing your clothes.
Pick the Appropriate Colors
Whether on game drives or birdwatching, you will spend a lot of time observing the wild. This means your safari clothing must blend in as much as possible and not disturb the animals. Clothing colors can either hide or reveal your position during a walking safari tour.
Keep in mind that the goal of your expensive African bush experience is to spot wild animals and not the other way around. This is particularly true for walking safaris, where you want to get close to animals.
Bright hues of yellow and orange can attract insects like bees because these colors replicate flowers. Bright colors can also cause animals to behave unnaturally, forcing them to hide from you.
The best hues to wear on a safari are neutral and naturally-toned colors, such as green, brown, and khaki.
Black clothing and light colors are the worst things to wear on a safari. White safari clothing can really make you stand out, causing animals to steer away.
Avoid blue and metallic colors for your safari outfit as these can attract tsetse flies, which have painful bites.
Refrain from packing camouflage clothes since this is illegal attire for civilians.
Dress in Layers
Another good safari outfit is dressing in layers for every activity. For example, you can roll up long-sleeved shirts when it's not that humid. Another tip is to wear a windbreaker to block the chill wind when the temperature drops at night.
It can sometimes get cold on the back of a safari vehicle, even during mid-summer. Make sure to bring a jacket or fleece for your warm layers. Particularly for the rainy season in Southern Africa, you need a dry layer that serves as waterproof protection against rainfall.
Most African safari camps and lodges are in remote places. Thus, we will only fly through a small, chartered aircraft.
Luggage restrictions can be 30 pounds to guarantee safety. This means it's crucial that what you wear on a safari consists of a lightweight fabric to pack your clothes easily.
Most African Safari luxury tours offer laundry services so you can pack less for a 10-day tour.
Shield Your Body From Environmental Elements
Safari animals move around during the cooler parts of the day. This is why most game drives happen early in the morning or around sundown. More than that, African safaris also have hot regions with strong sun rays and intense humidity.
Our luxury tour provides open safari vehicles, exposing you to the sun and other elements. Regardless of the condition, your safari outfit must shield your body from the cold so you can comfortably watch the scenery.
It's best to pack a rainproof jacket or lightweight raincoat you can easily get from your bag so the cold or wet won't ruin your adventure. If you'll be staying in tents, invest in insulated tops and bottoms to provide extra warmth.
Protect Your Skin Against Insects
It's common to encounter insects and bugs in Africa. For example, sub-Saharan Africa is home to large, biting insects called tsetse flies. Meanwhile, some places in Africa are malaria zones.
What you wear on a safari should cover your skin to avoid insect bites. Bites from tsetse flies can cause soreness, severe headaches, aching muscles, and fatigue.
Sample Safari Styling
Going on an Africa safari tour requires preparing for changing temperatures, dust, and insects. After knowing the types of clothes you need to wear, here are some safari outfit ideas for every activity.
Game Drive and Walking Safari Tour
Safari clothing for game drives and walking safaris should help you blend in with the environment. You also need to pack safari outfit clothes for layering since the temperature will change from morning to night.
Men: Khaki trousers, quick-dry safari shirts, utility vest, hiking shoes, and a wide-brimmed hat
Women: Long-sleeved sweater, trousers, utility jacket, hiking boots, scarf, and sun hat
This is where you can wear casual, cozy clothes as you lounge around your luxury safari camp. Both men and women can bring out swimwear, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and sandals.
You can also have some dress-up clothes for cocktail hours or dinner at the camp.
Men: Long-sleeved shirt or hoodie, long pants or trousers, and sandals
Women: Jumpsuit or a breezy dress, warm scarf, and flats
What Should You Not Wear on an African Safari?
It's not recommendable to wear jewelry on a safari, even on fancy dinners. You should also not wear dress suits or sports coats as they won't make you comfortable during changing temperatures. Besides, these items can only add unnecessary bulk to your safari clothing luggage.
What Luggage Should I Take on African Safaris?
You can use a soft, squashable duffel bag to pack light for your safari wardrobe. Most small aircraft don't allow hard-case bags since there's typically limited space onboard for luggage. You can also bring one small carry-on bag for game drives and safari walks.
Can I Wear Perfume or Cologne on an African Safari?
You shouldn't wear perfume or cologne during a safari trip, as the scent can cause wildlife to move away from you. Strong perfumes and deodorants will smell foreign to animals, causing them to feel nervous and avoid you.
What you wear on a safari should cover the skin to protect you against environmental elements and insect bites. Your safari clothing wardrobe must have clothes for layering, closed-toe shoes, and protective accessories. With this comprehensive safari packing list, you'll feel safe and comfortable while exploring the great wilderness.