Safari clothes are a serious affair in Africa. Yes, it is a bit “old-fashioned,” but fashions like the proper safari outfit never die. Unlike certain parts of the world, you won’t be laughed at if you show up in all khaki on a game reserve.
While we are not seasoned guides, we have spent a year of our lives in the bush. We have been to all of the major parks of Southern and East Africa and put our favorite clothes to the test. We have a severe addiction to finding and testing the best garments on the market to form the best safari knowledge possible.
This article can dispel some myths about what to wear on safari and back it up with solid packing advice. For more reading, check out our Africa packing list and tips. Let’s get down to some expert advice on what to wear in Africa and where to buy safari clothes.
What Clothes to Pack for a Safari?
You don’t need an endless collection of safari clothes in your luggage. We’re big fans of versatility and minimalism. When you overpack for a safari, it can become a burden. You are likely traveling to the wilds of the African bush. An entire wardrobe of clothes is unnecessary. In addition, the standard form of transportation is a small Cessna bush plane or overland truck, so a heavy suitcase of clothes will not work.
We break down the clothes that help you look the part, but any safari expert will agree there is no set dress code or safari outfit. Let’s start with some safari packing lists and what to wear on safari and then progress to recommendations for safari clothes.
What Season to go on Safari?
Weather plays a significant role in what you wear. Most African climates do not have your standard four-season environment. In most of Africa, seasons vary between dry and wet seasons, especially in Eastern Africa. The dry season in East Africa is hot. However, Southern Africa’s opposite, where the dry season means cool evenings and mornings.
Then it flips. The rainy season in East Africa brings cooler weather patterns and perpetuates constant spring-like weather in Tanzania and Kenya. In contrast, the rainy season in South Africa can coincide with its hottest months. The hottest temperature in Southern Africa occurs before the first rains as humidity slowly creeps up, leading to dramatic thunderstorms.
The season impacts what you’ll wear to stay comfortable and the color of your clothing. We suggest you wear khaki, brown, and tan during the dry season. Then, it’s time to bust out the browns and greens in the rainy or green season. You dress to match the vegetation.
Where to go on safari?
The first decision in packing for a safari is where you go on safari. Africa has a vast range of landscapes, vegetation, and climates. It would help if you packed for where in Africa you’re headed; that’s pretty straightforward.
We have another post on the best destinations to go on safari along with our favorite parks, camps, and lodges. While you’re at it, you can read up on our favorite safari animals to see while traveling. It’s tough to decide where to go on safari as you have a wide range of options!
You have three primary regions for a safari divided into Southern, Central, Eastern Africa. Southern Africa tends to be arid and sees a wide range of temperature shifts. Central Africa is typically hot and humid but can receive cool evenings. East Africa is your classic destination and is famous for its perpetual spring.
What to Wear in Southern Africa?
In Southern Africa, the climate varies across the region. Summers can be blisteringly hot while winters are freezing in the back of a game vehicle. Many visitors show up in the winter, thinking they’ll be in the hot bush, only to find zero-degree weather in an open car. Yikes!
The key to a comfortable safari outfit is layers. We often pack and wear layers to adjust to the wide range of temperatures you can experience on a typical day. While the morning can be freezing in arid locations like Botswana by midday, it can be hot, so layers will save you.
Packing list for Southern Africa
- 1 x Warm hat
- 2 x Long sleeve shirt
- 1 x Shorts
- 1 x Bathing suit (Men’s) (Women’s)
- 1 x Sandals
- 1 x Safari Boots
- 1 x Safari Hat
What to Wear in Central & East Africa?
Here the weather is more temperate year-round. It is known as the “never-ending spring.” However, morning game drives can still be chilly, so convertible pants and a light jacket are great options.
Always come prepared for rain, given the time of year. We’ve been in several of the famous thunderstorms of Africa, including a flash flood in Tanzania!
Packing list for Central and East Africa
- 5 x Athletic socks
- Plenty of undergarments
- 2 x Short sleeve shirts
- 4 x Quick-dry shirts
- 1 x Pairs of pants
- 1 x Rain jacket
- 1 x Fleece
- 2 x Shorts
- 1 x Sun hat
- 5 x Athletic socks
- 1 x Bathing suit
- 1 x Safari Boots
- 1 x Safari Hat
The perfect safari shirt will make all the difference in being comfortable throughout the day. A synthetic shirt will give the most practicality, while cotton or linen shirts have a more timeless look.
Organic textiles like cotton, wool, or hemp can provide an excellent base for warmth on a cold morning or a fantastic evening. Synthetic advantages mostly relate to quick-drying, stain resistance, and keeping cool. We recommend long sleeve shirts as it provides UV and bug protection.
Below is a collection of some of the best safari shirts we’ve found on the market. It is a guide about what to look for; the best fit for you may not be on this list. We’d also suggest you check out our post on safari shirts.
|Columbia Tamiami II||$45||Women | Men|
|REI Co-op Sahara||$59||Women | Men|
|Filson Alaskan Guide Shirt||$125||Women | Men|
|Classic Linen shirt||$79||Women | Men|
|Outdoor Research Shirt Echo Series||$42+||Women | Men|
Columbia Tamiami II
Specs: Price – $45 | Material – Ripstop Polyester
The Tamiami II from Columbia is a perfect shirt for a safari. It comes in long, short-sleeved shirts that look great and offer excellent value. It features a nice blend of synthetic materials that allow the shirt to dry and quickly provide excellent ventilation in the hot sun. A long-sleeved shirt allows for greater comfort, moving from chilly mornings to hot days.
The shirt’s functionality is excellent, with a rear vent for heat management and double breast pockets for storing gear or small items. Sometimes, it can be tough to find good technical shirts, but Columbia has some great options. It’s affordable, performs well, and looks pretty good, so it’s an excellent option for safari clothing.
Shop For Columbia Tamiami II
Women’s Safari Shirt
Men’s Safari Shirt
REI Co-op Sahara
Specs: Price – $59 | Material – Nylon/Spandex
The REI Co-op Sahara is for active travel, whether that’s hiking or going on a safari. This lightweight shirt from REI is made from polyester fabric that resists wrinkles, dries quickly for comfort, and wicks away sweat from the body. It has several pattern options that help break up the monotony of khaki, green, and white.
The front breast pockets are great for a small tube of sunscreen, bug spray, or a camera lens cap. For me, the cut and technical capabilities of the shirt make it shine, such as UPF protection, long sleeve cuffs, underarm panels to reduce odor, and a spandex blend for easy movement.
Shop For REI Co-op Sahara Shirt
Filson Lightweight Alaskan Guide Shirt
Specs: Price – $125 | Material – Brushed Cotton
Filson makes some fabulous high-quality clothes made for the outdoorswoman. The Alaskan Guide Shirt is a classic from the company that prides itself on rugged clothing made for a hard day’s work. The Alaskan Guide Shirt has some excellent weight and warmth for work on a cool day, but we prefer the lightweight version of the shirt for safari.
It has a classic look, and the thick cotton is beautiful but light enough not to be. It’s best in the cooler seasons on safari. It’s best compared to a lightweight flannel. If you want to know the cooler months on safari, read here.
Shop For Lightweight Alaskan Guide Shirt
Classic Linen shirt
Specs: Price – $79+ | Material – Linen
I like to pack a technical long-sleeved shirt for a safari, but it’s tough to beat a classic shirt from materials like hemp, linen, or rapeseed. They look excellent and practical as they have anti-microbial properties and will stay fresh longer when you sweat. Linen is a perfect option as it has a timeless look for your trip.
Pair a linen shirt with sandals, shorts, chinos, jeans, or shoes. It will always work. Linen shirts are versatile clothing that looks good for both sexes and works at the beach, museum, archaeological site, or safari. It’s tough to find decent linen shirts online, but I love the quality of J. Crew’s linen shirts. You can often score a deal, so if you stain or snag the shirt, it won’t be the world’s end.
Shop For Linen Shirts
Outdoor Research Shirt Echo Series
Specs: Price – $42+ | Material – Airvent Polyester
It’s not a requirement to wear a shirt with a collar on a safari. Wearing a moisture-wicking athletic shirt such as the Outdoor Research Echo is great for day activities. They are among some of the best lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and come in short sleeves, hoodies, and tank tops.
The long sleeve Echo provides complete UV protection, but you won’t get hot under the sun. These shirts have UPF sun protection, AirVent™ moisture management, and ActiveFresh™ odor control technology. Pick a shirt that is loose and light-colored. It gets bloody HOT in Africa, and the last thing you will want to be wearing is a skin-tight blacktop.
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Safari Pants And Bottoms
With safari pants, you should keep the activity in mind. Light pants will be much more practical than a pair of shorts if you plan for bush walks. Pants provide excellent protection from mosquitos, a vital feature in malaria regions.
We suggest bottoms with a bit of stretch on all trips, such as hiking pants, not jeans, chinos, or khakis. New outdoor gear utilizes synthetic materials to provide strength, temperature management, and flexibility.
When you hop into a safari vehicle, your pants need some flexibility. Temperature management will be critical in hot and humid environments where it’s not good to wear shorts, like in the jungle for gorilla trekking.
|prAna Halle/Brion Pant||$79||Women | Men|
|Columbia Convertible Pants||$65||Women | Men|
|REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants||$69||Women | Men|
|Coalatree Trailhead Pants||$89||Women | Men|
|prAna Summit/Vaha Pant||$79||Women | Men|
prAna Halle/Brion Pant
Specs: Price – $79 | Material – Nylon/Spandex
prAna has some exceptional climbing pants, and we love them for safari, travel, and everyday life. The prAna men’s Brion and women’s Halle pants hit the perfect blend between technical features and style. Fabric in the pants is a mixture of nylon and spandex for tremendous flexibility and moisture management. That moisture management makes them a good pair of pants to wear in heat or humidity.
The mud, sepia, and dark khaki colors look sharp for safari pants and have enough style that feels appropriate in everyday life. Since they are climbing pants, they have supreme flexibility and stretch. Although they’re flexible, do not mistake them for being loose and sloppy looking. Both pants offer exceptional flexibility, but the women’s Halle Pant takes it further with a roll-up capri design. Warning, these pants may become some of your favorites!
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Women’s Halle Pant
Men’s Brion Pant
Columbia Convertible Pants
Specs: Price – $60 | Material – Nylon/Elastane
Whatever the Columbia Silver Ridge or Saturday Trail Pants lack in appearance, they make up for practicality. They’re zip-off pants that double as pants and shorts. The synthetic material offers UV protection, breathability, and excellent moisture management.
The most notable difference with the women’s Saturday Trail Pant is the slimmer cut, and the zip-off section is higher, around mid-thigh. Both feature large pockets, but only the men’s have two cargo pockets to carry necessities like bug spray, sunblock, or binoculars for your safari.
Another nifty feature for the Silver Ridge is the adjustable belt that saves weight over a traditional option. Convertible pants are gimmicky, but plenty of people love these pants for their versatility. Columbia also makes some non-convertible versions of the pants if you’re inclined.
Shop For Columbia Convertible Pants
Women’s Saturday Trail Pants
Men’s Silver Ridge Pants
REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants
Specs: Price – $69 | Material – Cotton/Poly
REI-Co-ops outdoor products usually offer a lot of value, which is certainly the case with their Trailsmith Pants. The rugged Trailsmith Pants from REI have a classic look perfect for a stylish safari outfit. Made from a blend of cotton, polyester, and spandex, they move freely, but the fabric feels thick and durable. That durability plays out in looks through the double-layer reinforced knees that are great for performance and style.
They have a natural retro look which I love. My only complaint is that the pants are warm for hot weather, and the pockets are a little more than jeans. Either way, they’re a great pair of work and safari pants for women.
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Coalatree Trailhead Pants
Specs: Price – $89 | Material – Nylon/Spandex
Coalatree creates eco-focused outdoor apparel that we’re learning to love. As far as comfort, these are among the best on this list, and the only drawback is the price. The pant’s material is a lightweight blend of Bluesign Nylon and spandex.
They’re super comfortable, and the combination of nylon and spandex allows them to stretch in any way you can move. The drawstring makes for an easy adjustment, and the spandex does an excellent job hugging your hips.
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prAna Summit/Vaha Pant ($79)
Specs: Price – $79 | Material – Hemp
I spend so much time traveling in these pants they’ve become one of my favorite pairs of pants ever. I now have a couple of pairs of Vaha pants. The prAna Vaha Pant is for Yoga and climbing, but I use them for anything these days. For safari, they’re great for a relaxed evening around camp or the lodge and can even double as pajamas.
Hemp and recycled polyester give breathability to the pants with quick-dry and odor-fighting qualities and being a heck of an eco-friendly product. We’re big fans of prAna, so we highly recommend checking out some of their products. The women’s pant is the Summit pant, and the men’s is the Vaha pant.
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Women’s Summit Pant
Men’s Vaha Pant
Safari Clothes – Shorts
Do not fear wearing shorts while on safari! Most safaris are very easy-going affairs that involve riding in the back of the vehicle. You don’t need pants to ride in a game viewer, and it is tough to beat shorts on a hot day!
Whatever you pack, you should consider the location, time of year, and activity level. We spend most of our time in Africa in shorts and sandals. If you want to learn more, read about more of our favorite safari shorts.
Men’s Safari Shorts
|Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts||$45||Link|
|prAna Stretch Zion Shorts||$69||Link|
|Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts||$70||Link|
Men’s Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
Specs: Price – $45 | Material – Nylon
Columbia’s Silver Ridge Short is a classic staple and an excellent balance between function, fashion, and price that can be the perfect sidekick for your safari. These shorts also feature a DWR finished to support water repellency during those wetter days and UPF protection for those sunny days.
Two cargo pockets on the thighs help keep gear where you need it for longer days, while the nylon material allows for a nice stretch on your adventures—a solid choice for your safari adventures that won’t break the bank.
Shop For Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
prAna Stretch Zion Shorts
Specs: Price – $69 | Material – Nylon/Spandex
These tough hiking shorts men by prAna are built expressly for strenuous activity in the heat. They feature an exceptional moisture-wicking finish to keep you nice and dry if the sweat valves get turned on. The material, in turn, is quick-drying nylon to help prevent moisture buildup.
The short goes even further in temperature control and includes built-in ventilation on the inseam, keeping you cool and comfortable when it gets hot. Throw in UPF 50 sun protection and a highly abrasion-resistant material in addition to its excellent heat control, and you have an awesome pair of shorts.
Shop For Men’s prAna Stretch Zion Shorts
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts
Specs: Price – $70 | Material – Ripstop Nylon/Spandex
The Ferrosi is Outdoor Research’s take on the adventurer short. We love these pants as they deliver a compelling combination of good-looking ruggedness. The nylon-spandex blend keeps them nice and comfortable, but with enough freedom of movement for those crouching moments to snap the perfect picture or peer at wildlife through your binoculars.
The Ferossi shorts are similar to their pants and are some of our all-time favorite pieces of travel apparel for their lightweight nature and comfort. The handy zippered thigh pocket gives you a little more space for gear, while its low profile makes these shorts an excellent choice for dinner with friends or a rough day on a safari.
Shop For Men’s Outdoor Research Ferossi Shorts
Women’s Safari Shorts
|Columbia Saturday Trail Shorts||$45||Link|
|REI Co-op Sahara Shorts||$44||Link|
Specs: Price – $25 | Material – 96% Cotton, 4% Spandex
I just got these safari shorts and loved the stretchy waistband. They are super comfortable, especially if you sit in a game-viewing vehicle for hours. A wide comfy waistband holds the shorts nicely on the waist, yet they still have functional pockets.
The abrasion-resistant fabric and is also suitable for all hiking, trekking, and scrambling.
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Columbia Saturday Trail Short
Specs: Price – $45 | Material – Nylon
The Columbia brand is always reliable for affordable outdoor wear. These trail shorts are perfect for a safari in Africa as they provide UPF 50 sun protection and insect repellant. Their stretchable fabric makes them ideal for sitting in a safari vehicle for long hours throughout the day.
Even though these are safari shorts, they are still fashionable enough to wear to dinner and other activities around your safari. The best part about these shorts is that even after your African safari experience, you can take them home, and they are perfectly acceptable for trail running, hiking, or running errands around town.
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REI Co-op Sahara Shorts
Specs: Price – $44 | Material – Nylon
REI’s Sahara shorts are an excellent choice for more functional women’s shorts. They are for a more active traveler on a trip to Africa or South America. We love the Nylon blend with dual cargo pockets. Pockets are functional and deep enough to hold personal necessitates as they are for hikes.
The shorts sit high, and they don’t feel baggy despite the fact they’re cargo shorts. You can save weight in hot weather and avoid a belt as these shorts have an adjustable waistband.
Shop For Women’s Sahara Shorts
Wearing a safari dress in Africa is always a great idea! Don’t be the girl who only goes on safari in khaki pants and a long-sleeved top. Safari dresses are a thing and can dress up your African safari. One can be just as comfortable with the right safari style as shorts and a safari shirt.
|Rosie Utility Short Romper||$125||Link|
|Patagonia Fleetwith Romper||$119||Link|
|Scotch & Soda Safari Dress||$128||Link|
Rosie Utility Short Romper
The romper is stylish, durable, and perfect for a safari in the savannah. I love the pockets and comfort.
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Patagonia Fleetwith Romper
Specs: Price – $119 | Material – Polyester/Spandex
The Fleetwith is Bluesign certified and super comfortable. While the Fleetwith is available as a dress, we prefer the romper best. It’s so comfortable and fits just about any body type. With the romper, you can easily feel comfortable on a bush flight, in the back of a game viewer, or on a bush walk.
The one-piece romper is made from a 91% recycled polyester/9% spandex blend and moves with your body, resists wrinkles, and dries quickly. The romper and dress make for great safari wear, and they are so versatile you may end up living in them at home. It’s a slam dunk in our books for eco-conscious travelers.
Shop For The Patagonia Fleetwith Romper
Scotch & Soda Safari Dress
Specs: Price – $128 | Material – Tencel®
This fashion-forward dress from Scotch & Soda delivers everything we could want in terms of style. The classic off-white look, cuffs, and buttons down the front are sure to feel right at home on a safari.
It uses a lightweight material called Tencel that is eco-friendly and operates in a closed-loop system. That soft material is very light and breathes super quickly, so you’re comfortable and cool in the African sun.
Shop For The Scotch & Soda Safari Dress
A good safari boot is the one thing that is a must when it comes to safari wear and bushwalks. Sure, you can dress up in khaki, leather, leopard print, and dark green, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter all that much about what you wear on safari if you don’t have the shoe.
|Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger||$329||Women | Men|
|Merrell Moab||$145||Women | Men|
|Blundstone BL550||$225||Women | Men|
Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger
Specs: Price – $329 | Material – Leather
These boots are both functional and stylish. They are built with quality materials and solid craftsmanship. Red Wing’s Heritage Iron Rangers have a high ankle that is great for protection beyond the bush.
I love these boots because they are some of the best damn boots in terms of style, quality, comfort, and longevity. You can’t go wrong with a classic. Now all you need is a hat and a good camera for the safari.
Shop For Red Wings Iron Ranger
Merrell Men’s Moab 3
Specs: Price – $145 | Material – Leather
Merrell has managed to keep these boots affordable as they haven’t updated the design in years, and it’s proven to be a reliable boot. It’s not broken; don’t fix it. The boots are a blend of leather, textile, and synthetic. They are waterproof, comfortable, and have rubber soles and high ankles.
Rugged Vibram soles on the outsole provide good cushion and traction on slick surfaces. However, the most significant drawback is that they’re not stylish boots and not what most would consider a “safari boot.”
I would suggest these boots for someone going gorilla trekking in the jungle or if you’re an avid hiker. We started this list with your typical “safari boots” that are leather and stylish. However, these are more about practicality and value.
Shop For Merrell Moab 3
Blundstone BL550 ($225)
Specs: Price – $225 | Material – Leather
These are a solid go-to and classic look for stylish safari boots. The BL550 has great tread, insoles, and firm arch support, making it much more than a stylish boot for travel. Not only can these boots feel comfortable in a more formal or stylish event, but they’re equally at home on a ranch or going for a walk in the woods. An EVA footbed with unique technology in the heels ensures all-day comfort.
The boots feature soft leather, strong stitching, and decent soles. Plus, they’re incredibly comfortable. I love the slip-on fit, and the pull tabs make it easy to put on and take off. As a tip, I’d pick up some leather treatment to protect the boot and add a level of water resistance. Altogether they’re a tremendous travel boot and will serve you well in everyday life.
The 550 and 585 are considered Blundstones most classic boot designs. It’s tough to tell the difference in the design because there is none. The difference has to do with the leather upper leather of the boot. 550 boots feature full-grain leather, while 585 have suede nubuck leather.
Shop For Blundstone BL550
|Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat||$90||Link|
|REI Coop Down Jacket||$100||Women | Men|
|Bathing Suit||$50-100||Women | Men|
|Grayl Ultralight Water Bottle||$69||Link|
|Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses||$129||Link|
|Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars||$250||Link|
|Sun Bum Natural Sunscreen||$15||Link|
|Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag||$139||Link|
|Nomatic Travel Bag||$279||Link|
Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat
Specs: Product – Sunhat | Price – $90
You spend a lot of time outside on a safari and a safari hat is a classic accessory. We often fall into the category of people who do not take sun protection seriously enough. Yes, we wear sunblock on the beach, but outside of that, it’s not something we regularly think about. The time you spend outside adds up. If it’s not a hat, at the very least, wear sunblock. Even the game rangers we meet wear hats and sunblock. The full safari dress does serve a purpose.
Tilley has long been famed for its sun protection hats. They’ve seen the world over and have seen more than a few adventures. It holds its shape, and the material has a stylish look. What sets Tilley apart is that they guarantee their hats for life against wear and tear.
Shop For Tilley Airflow Hat
REI Coop Down Jacket ($99)
Specs: Product – Down Jacket | Price – $99
It gets cold in Africa so a warm jacket can be a lifesaver. REI Co-op Down 2.0 is a down jacket that only costs $100, which is about as inexpensive as they come in the down jacket world. When REI first released this down jacket, it flew off the shelves and has been in high demand ever since. Its closest competitors in quality come in at about double the price.
When it comes time to move to the next destination, the jacket packs up into the left pocket and occupies minimal space in your luggage. It has a water-repellent finish that should handle light rain, snow, and wind. We suggest more safari jackets here!
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It all depends on where you’re going, but Africa has some of the best beaches in the world. Not to mention some stunning hotels, rivers, lakes, lodges, and waterfalls all present the ability to go for a dip. Plenty of great beach lodges make for a wonderful and relaxing end to be a busy safari. You can read about the best hotels in Zanzibar or Diani Beach!
For women, Andie Swim makes excellent swimsuits. Many of their pieces are stylish yet supportive. The Quicksilver’s Amphibian shorts are a fantastic pair of board shorts for men. The material looks like heavy cotton, but they’re lightweight and durable. Best of all, they look great on the beach or in town.
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You won’t want to live in safari boots. A good pair of sandals are great for comfort on long travel days and under the hot African sun, like in Namibia or Egypt. Like the locals, we spend 90% of our time in a pair of sandals when traveling around Africa. We only opt for our boots on bush walks, long hikes, and dirty streets.
Our favorite brand is Rainbow Sandals, as they last forever and are super comfortable once the leather forms to your foot. Another attractive option for women is the Yoga Sling 2 from Sanuk.
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Grayl Ultralight Water Bottle
Specs: Product – Water Filter | Price – $69
It’s not advisable to drink tap water in most of Africa. We previously used the Lifestraw Go for all those times during our travels when the water was questionable. However, over time we became annoyed with the water bottle as the filter aged and clogged. Plus, the bottle leaks when it is on its side.
We now switched to the Grayl Ultralight Purifier. It’s a more simplistic design than the Lifestraw that is more effective and does not leak. Most importantly, it is a purifier, not a filter. The Grayl water bottle system purifies water vs. filters, removing viruses and virtually all threats of waterborne illnesses.
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Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses
Specs: Product – Sunglasses | Price – $129
Protect your eyes from the sun when you’re on safari. There are many sunglasses options; everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to ensure they have UV protection for the health of your eyes. We’re fans of the SMITH Optics Lowdown 2.
Not everyone needs to invest $130 in a pair of sunglasses, but they make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones. Added bonus polarized sunglasses help with contrast and spotting wildlife. It can be dusty in the back of a game vehicle. Then much of East Africa sits on the equator, which means UV rays are much stronger, so eye protection is super important.
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Specs: Product – Neck Gaiter | Price – $20
We both travel around with buff headbands, some of our favorite travel accessories that we’ve recommended a handful of times. They’re great for keeping sweat out of our eyes on a hike. Or in dust out of your face when riding down a dusty road, which you’ll need on Safari. They offer sun protection, can act as a scarf, and many other things. Buy one and fall in love with it.
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Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars
Specs: Product – Binoculars | Price – $250
Compliment your safari outfit with a pair of safari binoculars! The Nikon Monarch is a phenomenal mid-range binocular for safari viewing. Nikon has long been a reputable name in binocular manufacturing, and the Monarch is an excellent example.
The 42mm lens diameter allows for excellent low-light viewing, while the body itself is built for extreme use – sounds perfect for a safari, doesn’t it? Rubber armored body and entirely waterproof, this pair will hold up to the elements as you dive into the wilderness.
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Sun Bum Natural Sunscreen
Specs: Product – Sunscreen | Price – $15
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Africa as you’re close to the Equator. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house, as it’s tough to find pharmacies outside South Africa.
We highly recommend getting an eco-friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. They’re mineral-based and usually only cost a few dollars more to help protect our oceans. If you’re not going to swim in the ocean, just go with a reliable name brand — granted, runoff often still ends in our oceans and streams.
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Specs: Product – Insect Repellant | Price – $15
We recommend packing a bottle of insect repellant with DEET in it so you’ll scare away those annoying biting demons. It reduces the chances of Malaria or Yellow Fever.
Remember that DEET can destroy plastics, so mind your sunglasses or camera when applying. It’s good to bring a small bottle, but it’s easy to find great insect repellent all over Africa as it’s commonly used to prevent malaria.
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Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag
Specs: Product – Duffel Bag | Price – $139
The Patagonia Black Hole bag is a staple for adventure travel and one of the best safari bags. The bag can pack down small when empty, so it’s great to stick in your bag. It was also easy to stuff and organize, thanks to the large U-shaped zipper and two mesh pockets on the top flap. It’s also super lightweight, an important aspect when you have strict weight allowances on bush planes.
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Nomatic Travel Bag
Specs: Product – Carry On Daypack | Price – $279
Nomatic is fairly new to the anti-theft backpack game, only getting started after raising over 5 million dollars on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They claim to have created the “most functional travel bag ever!” Based on their design scheme, it makes for one heck of a safari bag.
However, it would be better stated that this is a business/travel backpack with anti-theft features, such as RFID protection and lockable zippers, rather than calling it primarily an anti-theft bag. This bag feels right at home, traveling anywhere, including on a safari.
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Elements of Good Safari Garments
There are a couple of key elements to look at with each piece of safari clothing. While you may picture yourself as an adventure seeker, remember that you are a guest, and your safari guide will handle the nitty-gritty.
Unless you’re driving across Africa like us, you’ll be safe. The clothes you pack should be for comfort, not some rugged adventure. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, you may as well leave it at home.
You’ll want to pack light. The days are often busy, so multiple wardrobe changes aren’t in the mix. Solid clothes that are casual yet stylish enough to wear to dinner in a lodge over a five-course meal.
Versatility can include the right material, fit, and functionality. For example, a good long sleeve shirt can keep you warm in the morning but cool during the day in a way that short-sleeve or tee shirts fail.
This one is key. Africa can be hard on clothes, even on a short trip. Climbing in and out of a safari vehicle can easily rip a weak pair of pants or shorts. Look for clothes for Africa that stretch a little.
You also have a lot of dust and sun exposure. If you’re involved in conservation efforts, on a walking safari, or spending any time outside of a game vehicle, you need decent safari clothes that will hold up to the elements.
The best way is often to stick with solid name brands that we trust when ordering online or to shop in your local store, although that can be difficult with limited selections.
With a safari, you’ve come to see nature, and that’s just what you will encounter. So, your clothing needs to be well suited to the environments of Africa. We go for solid natural materials like hemp, linen, leather, or wool for our outdoor wear.
Manmade materials such as nylon or polyester are other great options as they are excellent at moisture management and protection. The only material we’re not massive fans of is cotton, but it’s often the softest and warmest material with great value. I always read the tags and materials on outdoor apparel before I make a purchase and consider its intended purpose.
Things like having pockets can make or break good safari gear and wear. Where else will you stash things like lip balm, sunscreen, or even a pair of binoculars?
The day-to-day wear of clothes is the most important part because if you feel uncomfortable in the bush, you’ll likely look ridiculous. You aren’t walking the runways of Paris but spending time in the bush. Care about your look, but not too much.
Safari clothes should blend in with the environment. You should wear beige, green, and brown colored clothes. They are the staple colors of safari wear because they blend into the environment and can provide a better game viewing experience.
While wearing bright colors such as red is said to scare off animals and make you stand out. This may or may not be true. Only the animals know for sure. Of course, the Maasai Warriors in Kenya and Tanzania have been wearing red for centuries!
That being said, neutral colors do a great job at hiding dirt and dust, which there will be plenty of on a drive or walk through the bush. White clothes aren’t going to stay white very long, and dark colors are believed to attract tsetse flies. Trust us, you do not want to become familiar with tsetse flies!
For example, when gorilla trekking, it is advised to wear long pants and greens. When on foot, wearing colors that blend well into the environment and a good pair of safari boots is always advised.
Tips On Safari Clothes
- Safari Clothes Are Not Required – You do not have to wear special safari clothes. The majority of time on safari is spent in a vehicle where clothes choice does not matter much.
- Blend – Attempt to blend in. Remember to wear a safari outfit and clothes suited for the environment.
- No Animal Prints – Don’t wear animal prints or some ridiculous getup. You’re not bushwacking through the African jungle. This isn’t Jumanji. You’ll spend most of your time in the back of a vehicle. So, wear comfortable clothes that will not stain by dirt, offer sun protection, and are comfortable from the heat or cold.
- It Can Get Cold – Mind the weather. It can get really, really cold in the back of a game vehicle in Africa early morning or at night. Make sure to pack a nice jacket. I didn’t recommend any here – anything that breaks the wind should do.
- Ditch Dark Blue – DO NOT wear blue in Eastern Africa. Blue attracts the Tsetse fly, which is not a myth.
- Don’t Overpack – You only need a handful of shirts and pants. You are in the African bush, and there is no need for multiple wardrobe changes. However, it goes without saying to always pack ample underwear and socks.
- Relax – Keep it simple at five-star lodges in Africa. Things are still casual.
- Sunglasses – A good pair of sunglasses will save your eyes from staring at landscapes all day.
- Layer – Make sure to pack in layers. It will go from cold in the morning to hot at night and then back to evening time.
- Light Rain Jacket – Bring a light rain jacket, depending on the season. Most Safari companies and lodges come prepared in this aspect and will provide their guests with nice thick ponchos, but if you’re doing it on your don’t forget a rain jacket.
- Pockets! – We love clothing with pockets to carry sunblock, chapstick, flashlight, camera, or binoculars. It’s better than having to juggle around a bag. We already have our safari cameras to contend with in the back of a game viewer.
Clothing Brands We Recommend
Where to buy safari clothes? It’s tough outside South Africa to find a store that carries safari clothes. I would recommend you shop online. At the end of the day, we like to choose quality. A good safari outfit is versatile, long-lasting, and timeless. Spending the extra dough to buy decent brands is always a good idea. One of the best brands in our opinion is Patagonia.
- Patagonia – You’ll know we love this brand if you’ve read our other packing guides. They make great quality clothes that hold up.
- REI – This is one of our favorite stores! There may be no specific REI safari clothes, but you can find many products that will serve you well in the bush.
- Columbia – This is a great outdoor company with affordable products. We tend to like Patagonia more, but the brand costs significantly more for a slight quality improvement.
- First Ascent – You can’t find this brand in America, but if shopping in South Africa, they make some great quality clothes.
- Royal Robbins – Specialize in outdoor and travel gear, making perfect safari clothes.
- prAna – They’re a closer runner-up to Patagonia for style and quality in outdoor apparel.
Book A Safari in Africa
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They suggest camps and lodges then present you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day to select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you by booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.
Plan Your Trip to Africa
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
- Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
- Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
- Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
- Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
- Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.
3 thoughts on “Ultimate Safari Clothes Guide • What To Wear On Safari In Africa”
Cameron & Natasha! EXCELLENT site! Lots of great info! We’ll be heading from the US to Kenya and Tanzania in August to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary (not as old as we sound!) along with our adult daughter and 11-year-old granddaughter (who will celebrate her 12th birthday in Tanzania!) My husband and I visited that region 47 years ago and have always wanted to return! I’m sure we will find it to be quite a bit different now. My granddaughter is psyched to go safari clothing shopping! Typical adolescent. So totally looking forward to this very special family time in a very special place….Warm regards, Hope
This will be our first time visiting Africa. The information you presented was clear and concise. It was nice to get a real “travelers” perception on what to expect and how to prepare without the “push” to buy a certain brand name item or overpriced items from their website. A few websites that I visited before yours were more of an advertisement page written by someone who is using their knowledge of the Lion King movie as a bases for the information and their recommendations. Most of our traveling experience has been in Europe and Asia. I am looking forward to Africa.
Red Wing Iron Rangers most assuredly do not have steel toes. They were designed as work boots in an era before steel toes were required. They have long been part of Red Wing’s heritage line, and are sold as fashion/casual footwear. That said, they are of traditional construction and are high quality and could serve very well as a travel boot. However, traditional construction means that they need to be broken in to be comfortable. New owners should buy them up to half a year before an overseas trip to allow time for full break-in.