safari-chic-top-feature2Photo courtesy of ExOfficio, by Gregg Bleakney

Packing for the Micato safari I just returned from in Kenya and Tanzania was vastly different from packing for any other trip I’ve done. I traded in my favourite jeans and ballet flats for lightweight cargo pants and sturdy shoes, appropriate for bush walks. Fortunately, guests on a Micato safari are provided with a pre-departure packing list to help them pare down the contents of their suitcase to just the essentials. I learned a lot about what to wear and, perhaps more importantly, what not to wear on safari. Here are 6 things to wear on safari.

WHAT TO WEAR ON SAFARI

1 Layers
One of our guides told us to dress like an onion and he couldn’t have been more right. Depending on the time of year you go, it’s prudent to think of your outfits in layers. When I visited East Africa in mid-June, winter was coming and while you might not think it gets that cold in Africa, it does – even where I was, just a few hundred kilometres from the equator. While the afternoon sun warms things up, early morning and evening game drives can be quite chilly.

Out in the African bush, you have to leave many of the comforts of home behind. That’s why it’s important to pack as sensibly as you can.

2 Earthy colours
Wear muted, earthy colours while on safari to blend in with the nature around you. Bright whites are said to be a no-no because they reflect light and can startle the animals. I also learned to stay away from dark and royal blues as well as black clothing, because these attract tsetse flies – they bite, it hurts and they can carry dengue fever. There’s no bug repellant you can use to keep tsetse flies away so cover up and avoid blue and black clothing.

3 Lightweight, breathable fabrics
Out in the African bush, you have to leave many of the comforts of home behind. That’s why it’s important to pack as sensibly as you can. Fabrics that are both lightweight and breathable will make you feel much more comfortable, especially since you’ll probably be in the same clothes all day. Companies like ExOfficio offer a wide assortment of safari-appropriate clothing, many that are quick drying for easy washing, moisture wicking to keep sweat at bay and with a built in UPF sun guard of 30+.

4 Sturdy shoes
Wear sturdy, closed-toe walking shoes when you go out on game drives and especially if you go out on a bush walk. While running shoes are fine, you may want to opt for a short hiking or desert boot that’s not only got support but provides a bit of extra coverage to keep those ankle-biting mosquitoes away.

5 Shorts vs long pants
I found that shorts and skirts were fine around the safari camp during the day (at night, you should definitely cover up to avoid mosquito bites, especially in areas with malaria) but whenever I was out in the bush or on a game drive, I stayed covered up with lightweight pants in light colours like cream, khaki or grey. Leave your dark denim jeans at home. Not only is the colour more likely to attract tsetse flies, but you’ll just look out of place as well.

6 Safari hat and scarf
A wide-brimmed safari hat will of course shield you from the sun on scorching hot afternoons but can also provide a bit of warmth on cool mornings and evenings. A scarf is also handy, not only for keeping warm, but also for wiping dust off yourself of your camera lens when you’re out on game drives. The typical open-air safari jeeps can get quite dusty out in the bush.

Now that you know what to wear on safari, check out these great clothing options!

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13 Comments on What to Wear on Safari

  1. Katherine Belarmino - Travel the World
    June 26, 2013 at 4:42 am (4 years ago)

    I love that they gave you a packing list! And of course I am always looking for an excuse to shop. These are really good tips, especially about not wearing dark blue or black. Now I just need an upcoming safari so I can put these tips to use.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      June 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi Katherine! So glad you found this useful. Micato’s packing list was enormously helpful – I followed it closely, packed everything they suggested and left anything extraneous at home. Hope you’re able to do a safari soon – it will be an experience you’ll never forget! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Jennifer
    June 26, 2013 at 10:16 pm (4 years ago)

    I was just thinking, gosh Natalie even looks chic on safari! Guess the blues that look so fab on you aren’t a good idea after all. This is very helpful because we are going on safari in a few months too.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      June 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi Jennifer! I was wearing blue in Kenya where tsetse flies weren’t really a concern. But once we got to the Serengeti, believe me I stayed as far away from blue as possible … haha! So excited to hear that you’re doing a safari! Whereabouts?

      Reply
  3. Jen Melo
    July 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm (4 years ago)

    Khakis have function AND fashion to ’em? Good to know. Now I have a question: How do you pronounce tsetse? Like “say-see?” “say-say?”

    Reply
  4. Marisa
    March 29, 2014 at 6:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Fantastic post. No need to lose style for comfort. I also think a multifunctional buff is also a must have item.

    Reply
  5. Marsha
    April 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm (3 years ago)

    Great thanks for the helpful list. This will definitely come in handy as I start planning my trip for next year. I own a lot of black and blue clothing; shopping time!!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      April 17, 2014 at 12:46 am (3 years ago)

      Always happy to provide an excuse to shop, Marsha! πŸ˜‰ Glad you found this list helpful. You really do have to pack sensibly for a safari!

      Reply
  6. Sharon
    May 12, 2014 at 3:18 am (3 years ago)

    I own ONLY black clothes. Will be traveling in August to Cape Town for 3 days then onto Botswana for a 2 day safari then 2 other safari’s in S. Africa-Kruger area. Do you still not recommend any black?
    Many thanks

    Reply
  7. Liana
    July 2, 2014 at 3:35 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for the tips!

    By the way, tse tse flies don’t carry dengue… that is spread by mosquitoes. They can carry trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) however.

    Reply
  8. Lauren
    February 12, 2015 at 10:32 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this! My best friend and I are going on safari next month and this is extremely helpful. I wouldn’t have known about the dark clothing or those annoying flies. Much, much appreciated.

    Reply
  9. Michelle
    March 9, 2015 at 9:30 pm (2 years ago)

    any store suggestions?

    Reply
  10. Shannon
    September 8, 2016 at 9:06 am (9 months ago)

    This was so helpful! I was wondering where to start. Would you mind sharing the complete list they sent you?

    Reply

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