Wayo walking safari serengeti

What to Wear on Safari in Africa

written by
N black orange
Niarra Travel

There’s a science to packing for a safari. Not a complex one, mind, but one that’s about finding that perfect balance between comfort, practicality and suitability that works for you, your safari destination and the sort of activities you’re going to be doing while you’re there. Luckily, safari chic never goes out of style, so the best sort of clothes are easy to find and easy to wear.

Here are the things to consider when deciding what to wear on safari in Africa.

Shenton safaris luangwa Walking Safaris

Climate

It’s easy to imagine that all safaris happen under huge blue skies and the beating heat of the African sun, but most of Africa’s top safari destinations have wet seasons, dry seasons and even chilly days. All of which make for excellent safari conditions too.

So, first things first, what season is your safari taking place in? Once you know if it’s going to be wet/dry and hot/cold, you can really start planning what to wear on safari in Africa. Not to mention the style of safari you are travelling on - the dry heat of the Kalahari Desert and tropical mountains of Rwanda are totally different environments.

Whatever the weather, layering is essential – start with base layers like tank tops and t-shirts, then add long sleeves like a shirt or light jumper to keep your skin covered from the sun and biting bugs, plus a light or waterproof jacket on top of that if clouds are looming.

Marataba Safari Lodge Marakele walking

Don’t forget, even if you are adventuring where it’s hot, the safaris themselves usually head out when the animals are most active, at sunrise and sunset, so things can go from twilight chill to blazing sun (and vice versa) during the course of your wilderness wanderings. Things like convertible trousers, that zip off into shorts, can be a good choice if you’re solely in a safari vehicle but if you are walking out in the bush, light, utility-style trousers are a better choice.

Kigelia Ruaha Safari 4

Colours

A basic rule of thumb is to dress in a manner that matches the vegetation, so we’re talking earth tones – greens, beige, browns and khaki. These colours allow you to blend in and give you a better chance of seeing wildlife behaving naturally, plus they hide the dirt and dust you inevitably gather in the wilderness.

Bright colours and white make you stand out more and black and blues can attract the tsetse fly, an insect with a painful bite. Please note camouflage print is also a no no, as in some African countries it is for the military only.

Chilo gorge walking safari

Materials

When considering what to wear on safari in Africa, you need to decide whether you want to opt for the timeless look of breezy cottons and linens or go modern in hi-tech and practical synthetic materials.

Either way, they need to be lightweight and breathable, and versatile enough to cope with the demands of a safari, like climbing in and out of a vehicle, walking in the bush, taking on clouds of dust, getting rained on and, potentially, being soaked in sweat!

Opbc walking safari wildebeest

Accessories

Are you even on safari if you’re not wearing a hat? Cap, bucket or wide-brimmed, anything that keeps the equatorial sun off your face is good, plus sunglasses to protect your eyes. Consider a hat with a tie string or strap to ensure it doesn’t blow away while your jeep is in pursuit of a big cat that’s on the hunt.

A scarf is also a great accessory to have in your case. It can be used as a blanket on those cooler morning or evening safaris, to wrap around the shoulders as protection from the sun, as a face cover if things get a bit dusty or simply as a stylish statement to your safari chic look.

Segera Kenya Safari 12

Footwear will, again, depend on where you’re going and what you’re doing. If you’re planning to be mostly in a safari vehicle, then lightweight, breathable trainers can work well, or boots if you wanted, as they still give you the option of being able to hop out of the truck and into the bush. For those going more intrepid and doing walking safaris, then a sturdy pair of walking boots should be on your packing list, especially if where you are going is likely to be sandy or dusty.

Don’t forget a warm hat and gloves if you’re travelling during colder months.

Vundu Camp Zimbabwe Walking safari

Around the Camp

Between your early morning and late afternoon safaris, you’ve got whole glorious days to take naps, read, hang by the pool or enjoy any activities that are available, then in the evenings there may be cocktails, dinners, campfires and stargazing.

The majority of these camps and lodges are extremely relaxed at all times of day, so there’s no need to bring anything particularly fancy, but this is your chance to live out your safari fantasies and waft around your camp or lodge in whatever feels the height of wilderness fashion for you, be it loose and breezy or full utility chic. Consider a light jumper and clothes that cover your arms and legs for under-the-stars dining.

Qorokwe Camp 4

Keep it Light

A final top tip for your what to wear on safari in Africa packing list – keep it light. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to a really remote lodge, then you’ll be arriving by small bush plane, which have strict weight limits and a soft sided bag only rule.

Soft bags like duffels are also much easier to shove into a 4x4 en route to a camp or lodge and have a much more intrepid feel than a rolling suitcase. Most safari accommodation will also have a laundry service, so aim for minimalism by picking pieces of clothing that are versatile.

Marataba Walking Safari 18 1

Are you looking to embark on an epic safari adventure into the African wilderness? Then get in touch with our team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US), or at explore@niarratravel.com and begin creating your journey of a lifetime.

Mountain cutout 2
footer clouds

The world is at your feet

Receive inspiration in your inbox

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Contact a Travel Researcher

We always aim to reply within 24 hours.