Photo 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
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!