10 Essential Clothing Tips for Your African Safari

10 Essential Clothing Tips for Your African Safari

Ask anyone what you should pack for your African safari and you’ll be met with an array of different opinions.

On the one hand, there are people who will recommend hitting the shops and buying everything labeled ‘safari holiday‘. On the other hand, there are those who will say that you don’t need anything new and whatever you wear at home is fine.

Then, of course, there will be those who dress up in their finest leopard-print outfits, and hope for the best!

With all that conflicting advice, what should you do?

To help you get started here are ten essential clothing tips you should bear in mind when preparing for your next African safari holiday…  

Before We Get Started

Some general advice before we get more specific. 

First, when putting together your clothes for the trip, take into account the season that you’re taking your safari during, the location that you’re traveling to, and the amount of time that you’re going to be gone for.

Second, a good rule of thumb is to be as comfortable as possible, and ready for anything that the trip has to offer.

Now, onto those ten clothing tips… 

10 Essential Clothing Tips for Your African Safari


1. Choose Neutral Colours

When it comes to dressing for your African safari, choosing the right colours is important. If you plan to do a lot of traveling in a vehicle, then the colour of your clothes might not matter that much. However, if you want to get a little closer to wildlife, it’s important to wear clothes that will help you to blend in.

This means avoiding bright colours as well as black and white and opting for shades of khaki, olive, and stone. Animals will be spooked if they see a bright white figure heading in their direction, so avoid bright white and bold shades. You should also try to avoid dark tones as they tend to heat up faster in the sun.

In tsetse fly areas, such as parts of Tanzania and Zambia, you’ll also want to avoid blue or black clothing as it tends to attract these flies.

2. Bring Comfortable Clothes

Be sure to pack clothes that you are comfortable wearing. You don’t need to pack anything too dressy and should try to keep your apparel limited to comfortable clothes that you won’t mind wearing for long periods of time.

Linen trousers are ideal, and comfortable to wear in the evenings.

3. Fast-Drying Materials Are Your Friend

At camps there aren’t always dryers available, so bring along clothes that are made from fast-drying materials. Denim takes a long time to dry, so bringing denim could mean wearing damp jeans for a while if they get wet.

Lightweight cotton shirts, wool socks, and clothes made from manmade materials such as polyamide are much more ideal materials since they are lightweight. They also dry quicker which is helpful if you plan to wash along the way, or if you happen to get wet.

4. Layer Up

When packing for your safari, layers are the name of the game. Since temperatures can fluctuate significantly, it’s important to be prepared for just about anything…

Long sleeves can keep the sun, and bugs off of your arms, and you’ll also want to bring lightweight shirts that can be covered by a pullover that can easily be taken off as the day heats up.

5. Foot-Friendly Footwear

Big old-fashioned safari boots are not necessary! Remember to think comfort when choosing your footwear. You want to bring something that’s practical and comfortable. You should probably stick with a pair of tried and true walking shoes or comfortable sandals that are good for walking.

You should never bring a new pair of shoes that you haven’t worn before since new shoes generally need to be broken in and you can end up with blisters from them.

If you really do want to get a pair of safari boots (to break in slowly, alternating with your comfortable shoes), then per this article in The Telegraph, wait until you get there. In the UK, a good pair of safari boots can cost upwards of £100 – over there, they’ll cost you £20-30.

6. Pack Practical

Don’t dress to impress when you are going on your safari. Bring clothes that will suit the area you are going to. Be practical and smart about your choices. Safaris involve walking and driving down dirt roads and tracks, and you’ll want to bring things that you don’t mind getting a bit dusty.

You’ll also want to leave the silk shirts behind. Laundry services are often available at camps, but you don’t want to bring anything that’s easily creased or easily damaged. 

7. Pack for the Weather

Early mornings and evenings can be chilly, even in Africa. Once the sun goes down it can be quite cold, no matter what time of year it is. It’s important to be prepared for a range of varying temperatures and weather conditions.

Bring a lightweight jacket or a fleece pullover for sitting around the campfire at night, as well as t-shirts and lightweight trousers for the day. If you’re traveling in the spring you may want to bring a portable rain jacket for sudden showers. 

8. Don’t Overpack

Believe it or not, you don’t need to bring every beige shirt you own. Many camps have laundry services, often with a 24-hour turn-around, so packing everything you own isn’t necessary. Bring along plenty of basics: socks, undergarments, and the like, but take care to avoid overpacking.

As you can see from the video above, when you’re on a self-drive safari across Africa, there are a lot of essential items you’ll be taking with you. So the last thing you need is the additional hassle of a couple of large suitcases packed with dozens of different outfit options.

Also keep in mind baggage allowances, when traveling to many places in Africa you’re often restricted by a 12 to 15-kilogram luggage allowance, so take care to avoid bringing too much.

9. Bring Helpful Accessories

When it comes to accessorising for your trip, practicality is the order of the day. Sun hats, sunglasses, lightweight scarfs or shirts that have collars to cover your neck from the hot sun can be great accessories to bring along. You’ll also want to bring socks, closed shoes, and insect repellent to keep away the bugs.

But keep things simple and forgo the expensive jewellery or high-heeled shoes. Likewise, you may not want to bring UV proof shirt that doesn’t offer much in the way of comfort or layering. High-tech is great, but it’s not absolutely necessary and if you travel with us then essential technology (right down to an satellite phone, below) is all taken care of. 

10. If You Don’t Wear It: Don’t Bring it

While it can be fun to go shopping just before a big trip, you can also bring along clothes you have worn before, clothes that you are comfortable in and things that you know will work. Bring things that you know layer up well, and leave behind things that have never been worn.

If you do purchase new clothes for the trip, it’s a good idea to wear them at least once, to break them in and make sure they’re going to work. When in doubt, leave it out. Remember, practicality is your friend!


Now It’s Time to Take Action

As you can see, practicality and comfort are key when packing for your trip. Choose items that you’re comfortable in and opt for muted, neutral shades. Layer up, and prepare for a wide range of different temperatures and you’ll be good to go.

Armed with all this advice, are you ready to take your own exciting African safari? Whether you’re looking for a luxury lodge safari, an adventure, a honeymoon, a group trip, a safari beach combo, or a family holiday, at Safari Drive we can help you to create an adventure that’s perfect for you. Get a consultation with one of our team of experts right here, and we’ll help you map out a plan that will ensure you get the most out of your trip.

Or if you’d prefer to do some more research on your own first, then get yourself a free copy of the African Safari Field Guide next. It’s a 37-page guide on the subject written by our expert team here at Safari Drive HQ, and includes on all sorts of safari advice like how to camping safely, cross rivers, and spot wildlife.

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