Have you ever noticed how everyone on safari sports a certain look? Clothes are light and breezy, colours tend to come in varying shades of beige and green, and layers are an absolute must.
Before going on safari in Kruger National Park, I thought this was purely for fashion’s sake, however, it turns out there’s a good reason for dressing this way. Bright colours are to be avoided because they attract animals plus they can be distracting for safari goers looking to spot wildlife, black and dark blue can attract tsetse flies (usually an issue in mid-continental Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari Deserts), and white is usually a no go because dirt shows very easily. So what are you left with? Beige, green, and some natural earth tones.
In this post I’ll be sharing what to wear on safari complete with a packing list. Keep in mind that I did my safari in South Africa in autumn, so you’ll want to double check the temperatures according to where and when you’re going.
What to wear on Safari
Shirts: You’ll want light breathable fabrics in neutral tones. I packed a mix of short sleeve and capped sleeve shirts.
Pants: I mostly wore leggings on safari. I had one pair of cotton leggings that I pretty much wore nonstop and another pair of wool leggings that I wore overtop in the mornings until the day warmed up. If you’re not really into leggings, you could consider convertible pants to shorts to get you through the drastic change in temperature.
Fleece or warm hoodie: A fleece or a thick hoodie is an absolute must. If you visiting Kruger National Park during the cooler months like I did, you’ll be seeing average highs around 25°C and lows that barely hover above 0°C. Now imagine driving in an open game viewing vehicle in the early morning with the wind whipping you in the face – that’s cold! Your safari operator will likely provide you with wool blankets to wrap yourself in, but you’ll want to be wearing all your warmest layers.
Jacket: Aside from a fleece, it’s also a good idea to bring a jacket. This gives you an added layer of warmth, or you can wear it over your shirt once it’s too hot for your fleece.
Scarf: I brought a light pashmina mostly to wear in the mornings and evenings.
Gloves: I know this probably sounds extreme, but if you’re visiting during the winter months you’ll be glad you brought a pair of gloves or mittens. They don’t have to be thick; just something light to wear when it’s cold.
Hat: The sun can get quite strong during the day, so be sure to pack a hat, especially if you’re going to be doing some walking safaris. Something with a wide brim would be best so that you can get protection on the back of your neck.
Underwear and sports bra: Safari drives can be bumpy, so girls, choose something that works for you. As for underwear, a good option is the ExOfficio route which are quick-drying, odour resistant, and breathable.
Sneakers: A pair of sneakers or running shoes is perfectly fine. Unless you’re planning on doing a long walking safari, there is no need for heavy hiking shoes.
Socks: I’d go for a crew sock that covers your ankles, because again, I was cold.
Flip Flops: Flip flops are great to wear around camp in the afternoons or for the shower.
Sunglasses: I found a fun pair of Lennon sunglasses (similar here), but anything that’s going to keep the sun out of your eyes is fine.
Sunscreen: Safari days are along. Bring some SPF so you don’t end up with a bad sunburn.
Insect repellant: Mosquitoes were not an issue when I visited in winter, however, you may want to bring some repellent if you’re doing your safari during the warmer months.
Flashlight or headlamp: Packing a flashlight or a headlamp is especially important if you’re doing a camping safari that involves a bit of a trek from your tent to the bathroom. Even though we ended up upgrading to a cottage (with electricity!), we still used it to get around the campsite and when we went out on a nighttime safari.
Binoculars: If you’re an avid wildlife spotter, you may want to consider packing a set of binoculars to look at smaller animals or those that are further away. We had one set of binoculars to share in our vehicle, which was fine.
Water bottle and snacks: It’s also a good idea to bring a refillable water bottle as well as some snacks since safari outings can be quite long.
Weekender bag: Depending on the length of your safari, you may want to bring along a weekender bag as opposed to hauling along all of your luggage. Most hotels and safari operators will hold your luggage for you, especially if you’re only planning to be away a few days.
Do you have any other suggestions of what to wear on safari?